The USA Women’s National Team have just a short time to come together with a group of new players and a new coach and face the World Cup Runners Up, England on Tuesday.
New Head Coach Pete Steinberg knows it will be a tough road, but has some thoughts as to how to address it.
“We have some principles of how we will attack and defend,” Steinberg told RUGBYMag.com. “We will make changes in some specifics depending on our opponents, but we will stick to those principles.”
Such as? Physicality. It’s a benchmark of Steinberg’s teams, Penn State and Keystone. These teams play very physically, especially on defense, and he will expect his Eagles to do the same.
“We might change our approach to an opposing team’s scrum move or other play, but we will always be physical in defense,” he said.
That is a crucial part of their Tuesday night match against England at Appleby College in Oakville, Ont. England is one of the most physical teams in the world.
Steinberg said he will also be experimenting. He and his staff will tinker with aspects of preparation and recovery, using tried-and-true methods of high performance, but tweaking them somewhat to see what works the best.
Among his early switch-ups is his decision not to name a squads captain. Farrah Douglas, Jamie Burke, Vanesha McGee and Kim Magrini will serve as a four-player leadership group. Other veterans, such as Amy Daniels and Pam Kosanke, will step in as leaders as well.
“I think it’s too much on one person to have just one player be responsible for a squad of 25,” said Steinberg. “It’s kind of an out-dated tradition. We will have game-day captains, but they will change. Off the field we will have a leadership group.”
One of the other changes in Steinberg’s squad is the lineup. Ten players return from the 2010 World Cup, with a couple of others expected to be available later. But that means he needed to pick 17 new players.
“We actually have a pretty good-sized core of players,” said Steinberg. “But we did have to bring in some new players. I took on the job in March, but hadn’t been involved in the women’s elite level in ten years, so I came in with a fresh eye. I watched every WPL [Women’s Premier League] match on video, and every World Cup match. Then what I wanted to do was put a big emphasis on the National All-Star Championships. I really don’t know what club many of the players came from. All I know is that they performed well at the NASC or before. Having looked at all those games, we picked the best players we could.”
Interestingly, the club distribution of Steinberg’s picks is enormously varied. Only three players come from the two finalists of the Women’s Premier League. Teams 3 and 4 boast five. Meanwhile, ten come from outside the WPL altogether.
“We have some very good athletes, and some very good rugby players; some experiences and some inexperienced,” said Steinberg. “Now I want to give them the tools to perform.”
USA Women’s Squad for Nation’s Cup
Stacy Baker (Keystone), Libby Berg (Minnesota Valkyries), Stacey Bridges (At-Large), Jamie Burke (Beantown), Lisa Butts (Nor Cal Triple Threat), Sarah Chobot (Minnesota Valkyries), Kate Daley (Chicago North Shore), Lauren Daly (At-Large), Farrah Douglas (Washington DC Furies), Devin Keller (Keystone), Lynelle Kugler (Twin City Amazons), Laura Miller (Washington DC Furies), Shaina Turley (San Diego Surfers), Kittery Wagner (Beantown)
Sadie Anderson (Penn State), Sylvia Braaten (Twin City Amazons), Rebecca Brafman (New York Rugby Club), Amy Daniels (Beantown), Katie Dowty (Beantown), Victoria Folayan (Berkeley All-Blues), Pam Kosanke (Chicago North Shore), Jennifer Lui (Chicago North Shore), Kaelene Lundstrum (Twin City Amazons), Kim Magrini (Keystone), Vanesha McGee (New York Rugby Club), Samantha Pankey (James River), Carrie White (Seattle Rugby)