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Improvements and a New Plan Fire Eagles for Italy WXV Game

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Improvements and a New Plan Fire Eagles for Italy WXV Game

Kate Zackary hones in on a ballcarrier. Ian Muir photo.

On the way to getting back to the upper echelon the USA Women’s National 15s team faces a difficult opponent Saturday in the person of Italy.

What they want to do is show they’ve taken strides since the last time played (and lost to) Italy, which was 2022.

“The areas we’ve improved a lot are just being confident is a big one,” USA captain Kate Zackary told our correspondent Hanno van Vuuren. “We tried to go back to the basics and focus on the things we’re good at—in rugby you can add in all sorts of moves and starter plays and things like that

but if you can own your one-on-one tackles, your team structure, your attack plans, what your passing looks like, and you work off the ball, then you’ve got a really good team.”

So concentrating on those things have provided clarity. Certainly Head Coach Milton Haig wanted to see those things taken care of.

“When we first came together I thought our catch-pass was average,” said the coach. “Now it’s really gotten better.” 

Newfound Strengths

Working on the basics, the team is finding a bit of a new identity.

“It’s more about the connection and the confidence in the team, and that’s something we’ve found a lot in the last few weeks,” said Zackary. 

Added Haig: “players now know what the structure is and if we get our shape right we can execute pretty well, and that’s something they can take with them.”

A New Plan

Zackary says the USA has ability to score out on the edge, but they haven’t exploited it. 

“We have strong carriers up the middle but we’ve got some really talented edge players and that’s something we need to highlight more.”

Haig agreed.

“We’ve got a lot more pace in our game,” Haig told Van Vuuren. “We’ve got two 7s players on the wings also and  one of our goals for this weekend is to get them into space. We want to play entertaining rugby and if we can create three-second ball we can create opportunities.”

Defensively there’s a lot to do, as well, said Haig. Italy likes to offload and move the ball quickly away from contact. The Eagles defense needs to pay attention to that.

“We have to make our one-on-one tackles,” said Haig. “We have to make sure we’re working in a chain of three so we’re flooding that space because they like to offload. That’s going to be challenging for us and we need to make sure the tackler chops it low and we flood those channels.”