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Cain Reviews Rd 1 of Super Series

  • 01 Jul 2019

There are four teams ranked above the USA and they’re all competing in the Women’s Super Series. In Chula Vista, the 5th-ranked Eagles have different priorities than, say, Round 1 opponent England (#2), a team that might play 30 international tests in one year.

RELATED: England defeats USA 38-5

“A lot of the teams’ focus is to win the Super Series, and that’s brilliant for them. We understand that we’re here to learn,” USA head coach Rob Cain said.

“We’re still not trying to build a team. We’re still trying to build individuals,” the coach continued. “As we get closer to the World Cup, of course we’ll have to start building a team but we’re still investing in individuals … still looking at combinations. We’re still trying to get the players to understand what kind of rugby they need to be looking at and being able to execute at test level rugby. What their options are, whether it’s run, kick or pass. Again we’re trying to do that in a pressurized environment, but they’re doing a great job. We’re learning every day and we’re getting better every day. We’re only going to get better by pushing the boundaries and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Cain explained that the concept of space – how to create, manage and exploit opportunities – is critical to the rugby that the USA wants to play, and it’s been a focal point of the learning process. Against England, the coach was pleased with the number of opportunities that the team manufactured, and now awaits the finishing piece for more points scored.

“We gave too much of the ball away and that was through penalties, through just some poor errors which have nothing to do with trying to run the ball,” Cain estimated 20 turnovers of that kind. “Obviously there were some new combinations and a lot of new players are making their debuts. … We have to accept that we’re playing one of the best teams in the world so it’s a really good introduction for them. And they understand that if we do give the ball away as much as what we do then there are consequences.”

Six players earned their first USA 15s cap on Friday, three as starters and three as reserves.

“Brilliant,” Cain reviewed the newcomers’ performance. “To have someone so young like Eti [Haungatau] to step in and play against two of the most experienced World Cup centers in terms of Emily Scarratt and Amber Reed, it just shows how much of a talent she’s going to be.”

Cain praised Ashlee Byrge and Olivia Ortiz, former Davenport University teammates, for their positive play at scrumhalf, and Charli Jacoby for injecting a ton of energy with her big collisions off the bench.

“And Bulou [Mataitoga] at fullback – it was great for her to really express herself. I think you saw the physicality she brings and the confidence she brings,” Cain added.

“As a team, we’re still learning and we’re learning in real time. But the great thing is we have an amazing hardworking group of players and you saw that in their defense against England.”

Cain also praised the team’s defensive output, which showcased the players’ physicality, athleticism, natural ability and work ethic. The Eagles repelled a couple of goal-line campaigns that should have resulted in points against and those experiences saw newer players succeed in this new level of high-pressure rugby. That’s where confidence can be found and bred and built upon.

“So I think a lot of things did go right,” Cain reflected on England. “We just need to try again. We’re not reacting or looking to change too much, we just want to get our execution a little bit better and not give New Zealand so many opportunities.”

Cain would also like to see longer blocks of consistent play. During the November tour, the Eagles plays well in blocks of 20 and 30 minutes, but Cain wants the team building toward 50-minute block this tour.

“I think the water break came at a bad time for us. I thought those first 20 minutes they played really well and that [break] sort of took momentum out of us,” Cain said of one limiter. “England has very, very experienced world-class players who can get their heads together [quickly.] … And that’s the big difference between them and us at the moment. We can’t quite react in real time because we haven’t got that game experience.”

New Zealand began the Super Series with a 35-20 win over Canada and is looking to continue that positive trend on Tuesday. For the USA it’s about getting individuals more playing time, more high-pressure situations, and building from there.

“New Zealand will give us another perfect platform to look at players and try and help [them] understand how they can manage pressure, how they can see space, and then try to help them how to come up with solutions of how to get ball into that space,” Cain concluded. “And that’s what they’re going to work very hard to do.”

July 2 – Super Series Rd. 2

2:15 p.m. PT France vs Canada

5:15 p.m. PT New Zealand vs USA

To watch the Women’s Super Series, tune into

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