Kennesaw State University played host over the weekend to an international rugby tournament that involved teams from 12 countries including the United States. The IRB Women's Sevens World Series, won on Sunday night by rugby powerhouse nation New Zealand, entertained a small, but vocal and enthusiastic, crowd with some great sport not normally seen in Atlanta.
Rugby Sevens is a variation of the fifteen-a-side game played by only seven players on a regular sized pitch in a game of much shorter duration. Games last no more than 20 minutes but contain the same fast paced action and bruising tackles (with no pads or helmets) for which the regular version is known.
The game has become an Olympic sport and will make its debut at the summer games in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in 2016. Therefore the Women’s Sevens World Series is being used to develop national teams capable of winning the gold medal in 2016.
Teams traveled to Atlanta representing the USA, Canada, Brazil, England, Ireland, Spain, Netherlands, Russia, Japan, China, New Zealand, and Australia.
The tournament consisted of round-robin play on Saturday where teams were placed in three groups of four, each team playing every other team in their group to determine who would advance to the cup knockout rounds on Sunday.
It didn’t take long on Saturday to realize that those countries where the traditional form of the game is important have transferred that experience and expertise to the Sevens form. New Zealand is arguably the world’s best rugby nation and they dominated their group winning all three matches.
Russia and Canada were the other group winners each sweeping their three games.
Those three teams dominance continued on day two at the knockout phase as they easily dispatched their quarterfinal opponents to set up semifinals where New Zealand played Russia and Canada played Australia.
Winners of Pool B, the Canadians had already beaten the Australians in group play and they continued that streak by beating them again in the semi-final 17-7 booking their place in the final. In the other semi-final New Zealand dominated the Russian team and ran out 24-7 winners.
While Canada put up a spirited fight in the final they were completely outclassed by a New Zealand team who ended up winning the final match-up 36-0.
Speaking after the game to IRB.com, coach Sean Horan was delighted with the tournament win. "The way the girls performed was pretty outstanding. We're building, we're getting better and we still believe in ourselves, in fact we probably focus more on ourselves than others.”
He added "It's about getting the body and the mind right. You want to peak on the second day of the tournament and that's what we did. I'm happy with our performance."
New Zealander Sarah Goss was awarded the tournament Most Valuable Player for a stunning all round performance while USA rookie Jessica Javelet scored seven tries for her team having only taken up the game recently.
Up next for the USA Women Seven’s team is the 3rd round in this series, to be played in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Up next for USA Rugby is a Men’s Eagles World Cup Qualifier against Uruguay. This huge home and away match up against Uruguay will determine who goes to England for next year’s World Cup. The U.S. leg of that game will be played at Kennesaw State University.
Having the Women’s Sevens World Series, a tournament of such high a profile here in Atlanta and then following that up with a final qualifier for the 2015 World Cup is a huge coup for Atlanta and all those sponsors and advocates who convinced Kennesaw State and USA Rugby that Atlanta would be a great host site should be commended for bringing world class rugby to Georgia.
Tickets for the upcoming USA Rugby vs. Uruguay World Cup qualifier are available at www.Ticketalternative.com