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Column - 7s Eagle Women Better - Heres Why

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Column - 7s Eagle Women Better - Heres Why

Kelter and Griffin taking it to New Zealand.

Change is good.

Change works. At least what it does do is help us undrstand what needs to work. If you keep doing the same thing and your rugby team isn't winning, then how can you know what is not working?

Back in December I wrote a column: Column - Eagle Women 11th - Here's Why which outlined in pretty blunt terms where the USA women's 7s team was going (downhill), and why. If you don't want to read the whole thing (shame on you!) the crux of it all was a lack of basic team 7s play. No passing. Not enough support. Players in support not expecting the pass. Not winning restarts or using the right players to win restarts. Having the wrong player as captain.

In Sydney, they changed much of that. Head Coach Richie Walker picked a new captain, and while I am not anywhere near arrogant enough to think a coach who do what I think he should do, it turned out Walker picked the player I think he should have picked, Alev Kelter. Kelter is a brilliant 7s player. She is strong. She bounces off th ground quickly (an overlooked skill in 7s). She can pass, spot a gap, tackle, tackle again, use her teammates, and she's a leader. All of this has been obvious for some time.

"USA has been incredible," said former England captain Sue Day, who works on the broadcast team for the Women's World Series now. "The leadership, the mental strength to pick yourself off the floor. I'm really impressed with Alev Kelter and Kelly Griffin."

But more than just picking someone new at captain, the Eagles started to play as a group. They aren't flipping the passes around like some other teams. They aren't thundering through tackles like still others. They are starting to work attacks in a way that works for them. Naya Tapper is a brilliant finisher, not just because she's fast, but because she breaks tackles and runs with desire. Other players are playing to their strengths, too. Kate Zackary isn't a flashy player, but, as you will see below, she's about as brave a player as you could want. Nothing wrong with that.

They are starting to be stronger in the tackle so as to look for the offload. And if the offloads aren't there, then the support runners are clearing out and winning ball.

It's all fairly straightforward stuff, but it's a massive change, and a massive improvement. Look at the Falcons in Okinawa, and you see some of the same elements to the recipe. Finished product? Of course not. But 2nd in Sydney is a heck of a sight better than 2nd-last in Dubai. And next week in Las Vegas, maybe they can put something special together. Two months ago it didn't look like they were capable. Now they look a lot different.

Some gif for you:

Zackary saving a try.


Running a play that's executed well and results in a try.


A two-person clearout that is a thing to behold.


Good ruck and smart offload from Kelly Griffin shows how one pass, timed well, can do the job.