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Questions to Answer on Eagle Women Tour

irish rugby tours

Questions to Answer on Eagle Women Tour

With the USA women’s team off to the United Kingdom for an important three-game tour in advance of the World Cup, there are potential changes afoot.
 
Head Coach Pete Steinberg has named a squad with plenty of players we expected to see - Jamie Burke, Emilie Bydwell, Lynelle Kugler, Nathalie Marchino, Jillion Potter, Stacey Bridges to name just a few.
 
But Steinberg has some questions to answer, too. Namely:

What do you do with Vanesha McGee? The longtime Eagle and former Temple All American with the long, loping stride was released from her 7s team contract this year and took some time off. Is she re-energized and ready to get after it? In the increasingly physical world of women’s international rugby, she needs to bring both her athleticism and her toughness.
 
How much of a wild card is Bui Baravilala? The sidestepping, drop-kicking, multi-skilled Hawaiian was another who left the 7s program. Inserting her in the 15s team is an interesting choice because she can play superbly off the cuff. But 15s international rugby is rarely about off the cuff. Will she fit in?
 
How experienced is this team? Not very. Only nine have played in the 15s Rugby World Cup before. That’s to be expected, as the group that finished 5th in 2006 and 2010 was largely the same group of players.
 
Those nine are: Sharon Blaney, Stacey Bridges, Jamie Burke, Emilie Bydwell, Lynelle Kugler, Nathalie Marchino, Vanesha McGee, Naima Reddick, and Kitt Wagner.
 
Experience is spread throughout the team, but not at halfback, where there’s much work to do. Prop remains a question-mark, also, with Burke and Reddick  a mainstay but where we need others (Hope Rogers?) to keep up.
 
The younger players who have come through are, for the most part, athletes honed in top college programs and some leading clubs. They are known to be physical, fearless, and will find out on this tour that such a reputation has to be earned against similarly fearless and physical opposition.
 
What’s up at #10? Steinberg has selected Hannah Stolba, Kimber Rozier, and Sadie Anderson, all of whom can play at fyhalf. Is this the big audition? If it is, it’s an interesting contest. Stolba is experienced, tough, and flexible in that she can slot in at center, too. Anderson has an uncompromising approach to the game and has the potential to be superb, but she hasn't been playing regularly since her departure from the USA 7s program. As for many players, the speed of the game at international level can be an adjustment.
 
And Rozier has all this 7s experience, but is yet to set the position alight. She can kick, pass, and find a gap, but she needs to distinguish herself from her competitors.
 
Whichever player takes control of the flyhalf position, she will have to mesh with her scrumhalf, where it appears Deven Owsiany and Jossy Tseng will patrol. Owsiany is scrappy, almost manic at times, but with her 7s experience knows how to rescue dodgy ball and turn it into a positive. Tseng is smoother, more steady, but can that mean too deliberate? What we’d like to see is a scrumhalf who also has a turn of pace, but it seems that position, on the Eagle women’s team at any rate, is one for a passer only.