LAFAYETTE, Colo. – The 28 American players traveling to Ireland for next month’s Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 have been selected by Women’s Eagles Head Coach Pete Steinberg, USA Rugby announced Monday
Included among the squad for the eighth World Cup are two Team USA Olympians, two international debutants, seven Women’s Premier League champions, and seven World Cup veterans. The Eagles, currently ranked seventh, will play pool matches against reigning Champion England, Italy, and Spain in Pool B at University College Dublin Aug. 9-17 prior to knockout matches Aug. 22 and 26 in Belfast.
“We are very excited about the send off in DC,” Steinberg said. “We are meeting the USA Rugby Congress, we have a reception at the Irish Embassy, and we have a couple of practices planned. The support from Scion and USA Rugby Trust has been great. I have to recognize George Hook and Irish Rugby Tours who have been instrumental in helping our World Cup preparation.”
Though there were only three years between the seventh and eighth World Cups, the Women’s Pathway has afforded players plenty of opportunities to grow into World Cup-eligible selections. Following the reinvigoration of the National All-Star Competition and more competitive play for the AIG Women’s Collegiate and Junior All-American and Girls High School All-American powered by Atavus teams, the Eagles have debuted 34 internationals since the start of 2015. Eighteen of those players are included in the 28-woman roster for Ireland.
“With an experienced squad in 2014, we knew we had to get younger for this World Cup,” Steinberg said. “The shortened cycle has made getting so many players the experience they need challenging. This is a group that will need to grow through the tournament to be able to play at our top potential. It is exciting, though, to see so many players going to Ireland that will be eligible in 2021.”
Steinberg’s staff is bolstered by the additions of former World Cup Eagle Liz Kirk as a forwards specialist, experienced strength and conditioning professional Ian Gibbons, Richard Ashfield as a skills coach, and a highly capable team of physicians and physiotherapists tasked with keeping the Eagles at their healthy best through a grueling three-week tournament. The staff will work in tandem with ranging availability during the World Cup, as not all members of the coaching team will be in the assembly simultaneously.
“I cannot say enough about the commitment of our staff and the work they put in,” Steinberg said. “Our goal is always to provide the same support for the women that the men get at their World Cup and I think we have been able to do that.”