BOULDER, Colo. – The USA Rugby’s Women’s National team is set to play a warm-up match against England prior to the official start of the Nations Cup. The match will kickoff at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 19, at the Esher Rugby Club, on the outskirts of London.
The U.S. women have been rebuilding their squad since a competitive 4-1 showing at the 2006 Women’s Rugby World Cup, after which many veteran players retired. The Women’s Eagles last traveled to England for a three-match tour in December 2007 and were defeated by the England Women, although the match gave the U.S. squad’s 19 new caps some much-needed international experience.
The bulk of the squad is comprised of players with a cap or two under their belts, who are looking to prove themselves against top international opposition. A number of the young players from December’s squad have returned, including Jillion Potter (Minnesota Valkyries) and Emilie Bydwell (Beantown).
A handful of WNT veterans such as such as Captain Ashley English (Berkeley All-Blues), Jamie Burke (At-Large) and Kristin Baja (New York) will also make the trip to England. Flanker and Vice Captain Liz Dilley (Washington D.C. Furies) will partner an aggressive back row with Number 8 Blair Groefsema (Berkeley All-Blues) and Flanker Mel Denham (Beantown), making her international debut.
“For our opening match, we’ve selected a good blend of experience and those previously untested in international play. As the new laws have added close to 10 minutes more of play, we are looking to the increase in our fitness level to help equalize the playing field for us,” said Women’s National Team Head Coach Kathy Flores. “The first match is often the hardest in terms of hitting the ground running; however, the players are excited and determined to improve their showing over the last time we met England in December.”
The U.S. will meet up with England again, in the opening match of the Nations Cup, at 7 p.m. on Friday, August 22, also at the Esher Rugby Club. The USA’s second Nations Cup match versus Canada will be played at Esher on Tuesday, August 26.
For more information on the USA Women’s National Team, visit www.usarugby.org/goto/women_eagles.
USA v ENG, Tuesday, August 19, 2008
1. Jamie Burke, At-Large
2. Lisa Butts, Davis Women
3. Stacy Baker, Philadelphia
4. Beckett Royce, ORSU
5. Jillion Potter, Minnesota Valkyries
6. Liz Dilley, DC Furies
7. Mel Denham, Beantown
8. Blair Groefsema, Berkeley All Blues
9. Kim Magrini, Keystone
10. Kristin Baja, New York
11. Desiree Markovich, Minnesota Valkyries
12. Elise Myer, Maryland Stingers
13. Emilie Bydwell, Beantown
14. Vanesha McGee, Philadelphia
15. Ashley Kmiecik, Seattle Mudhens
16. Farrah Douglas, Chicago North Shore
17. Lara Vivolo, New York
18. Sarah Walsh, Chicago North Shore
19. Christina Hobson, New York
20. Katy Hertel, Minnesota Valkyries
21. Mel Kanuk, Maryland Stingers
22. Ashley English (C), Berkeley All Blues
Anyone know if the match will be available on TV or online anywhere? I have been searching the Internet but haven’t found any news yet…leave your thoughts in the comments!