The USA women’s 7s team was top four at the 2009 Rugby World Cup 7s, and finished, surprisingly, ahead of England.
The same could be true this year, as the Eagles have earned a quarterfinal spot against Ireland, a tough, physical team that the USA should beat. Meanwhile, England, by virtue of losing to Russia, will face New Zealand.
So either New Zealand or England will be playing for 5th. The USA will find themselves against the winner in the semis. All they need to do, then, is raise their game sufficiently to overcome a team they have struggled to beat of late.
If they do win, they may well give thanks to Jillion Potter, the physical forward who has been superb in Moscow, winning rucks, making try-saving tackles, and getting her team go-forward. If the big knock on the Eagles 7s team is that they aren’t big enough or physical enough, Potter is their argument against that.
Another might be Victoria Folayan, the short but powerful USA wing. Folayan is explosive, but she needs the likes of Christy Ringgenberg (the only player left from that 2009 team), Kelly Griffin, and Deven Owsiany to give the ball to her in space.
And of course, don’t forget Vanesha McGee. Now the USA captain, McGee was the one who got the Eagles back on the winning side against Spain.
All of those pieces – and staying out of contact in the semis and making their tackles low – could mean a little bit of history.
“We are feeling pretty good,” said Folayan. “We know we started the day slow but we got better as we went on. Tomorrow with Ireland we just need to focus on playing our game. It’s a positive to go unbeaten but these are two day tournaments so it doesn’t really matter. We had a long break between games today so though it’s hot here we have been able to refuel and relax and refocus.”