The 1991 USA Women’s National Team and staff that won the first-ever Women’s Rugby World Cup was honored at Atlanta 7s last week. April 14, 2016 was the 25th Anniversary of the first-ever WRWC and a celebration of all the participating teams.
The 1991 Women’s Rugby World Cup almost wasn’t as the tournament was not approved by the International Rugby Board (IRB), now World Rugby. Representatives of the IRB, WRFU and RFU attended the final but it was not until 2009 that the IRB officially endorsed the event as a “world cup”.
Twelve teams were brought together in Wales from April 4-16, 1991. The inaugural teams were Canada, England, France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Soviet Union, Spain, Sweden, USA, and Wales. The USA started their tournament against the Netherlands, where the Americans scraped by with a 7-0 win on a four-point Patty Jervey try and Andrea Morrell penalty. The USA team then dispatched the Soviet Union 46-0 in their second match.
A few days later at the semifinals, they faced New Zealand. Again, it was another low scoring affair, with the USA winning 7-0. Chris Harju slotted a penalty and Barbara Bond dotted down a pack try for the Americans.
England took a different path to get to the final, only allowing points from Italy and shutting out the rest of the competition. They faced Spain first and defeated them 19-0, next was Italy where they scored 25 points and allowed Italy to slot 9. Finally they blanked France 13-0 in the semifinals.
At the WRWC final, England took an early lead,scoring a penalty try from a well-worked five-metre scrum. Converted by Gill Burns, the English drew first blood to up by 6. The scored remained at England 6, USA 0 until right before half when Chris Harju converted a penalty. From here the accounts don’t differ much as the USA took over and didn’t look back, eventually winning 19-6.
1991 USA Women’s National Team
Head Coach, Kevin O’Brien
1991 USA Rugby Women’s Chair, Jami Jordan
1991 USA Rugby’s Referee to the WRWC, Laurel Lockett