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WPL All-Star Coaches Extol New Ops

  • 29 Jul 2019

Atlanta’s Chi Chi Chukwueke / Photo: Jackie Finlan / TRB

Thursday kicks off the first Women’s All-Star Week, which is reminiscent of the bygone championships that existed for senior, collegiate and U19 regional programs around the country. The Greeley, Colo., event not only provides new opportunity for players and coaches, but also connects programs and lends shape to the women’s rugby landscape in the U.S.

The Women’s Premier League (WPL) is fielding two 15s teams: the East, coach by Atlanta’s Ros Chou, and the West, coached by Chicago North Shore’s Parisa Asgharzadeh. Koma Gandy Fischbein is head coach for the new senior club all-star team, which showcases Division I and Division II athletes, and Women’s Collegiate All-American (WCAA) head coach Katie Dowty is bringing a squad that features players from NSCRO through the DI Elite and NIRA.

RELATED: Return of USA Rugby-governed senior all-stars

“I am so excited for us to bring back the ties between the larger women’s rugby community,” enthused Chou, who is involved in every level of the women’s game. “This week allows us to see the natural progression and evolution of our sport over the years, from younger collegiate players to club teams from numerous geographic regions. We’ll get to share the same space when we are normally siloed by our separate competitions and seasonality. This is truly a chance for us to keep growing women’s rugby in the United States together by pushing each other in a highly competitive environment.”

NY’s Shamira Robles / Photo: Jackie Finlan / TRB

The WPL all-stars are arguably easier to manage since the player pool is confined to 10 teams and the event itself is a known entity on the calendar. Still, a balance between identified athletes and up-and-comers must be found with selections.

RELATED: WPL East & West Rosters

“There was a request from HP that we not select any Super Series players to allow them rest post-competition and to give opportunities to promising WPL players who are in the pool or not yet in the pool,” Chou explained.

Included on both squads are several young players who earned their first 15s caps on the 2018 November tour.

“Having leaders who can set the example and bring their previous experiences to support other athletes is a powerful aspect of growing the game,” Asgharzadeh added. “We also worked with WPL coaches who advocated for their players who represent the highest quality of rugby to design our rosters.”

The WPL players will be familiar with the competition format – two game days separated by a rest day – as it mimics the league’s national championship. It’s the unpredictability of the opposition that should make the all-star event an interesting one. USA Women’s 15s head coach Rob Cain and General Manager Women’s High Performance (HP) Emilie Bydwell, fresh off the Pan-Am Games, will be taking it all in.

Glendale’s Nichole Wanamaker / Photo: Jackie Finlan / TRB

“Rob has told us that there is no cap to the number of invites into camp or possibly the national team pool. So, it is truly open for anyone that is hoping to get their chance. They could possibly play their way into an Eagle’s jersey,” Chou explained the stakes. “Rob has been so supportive in giving anyone a chance, scouting them with an open mind in a competitive environment like this, regardless of club affiliation or college program. I’m grateful that Emilie, Rob, and Kate [Daley] have given these women the opportunity to showcase their skills by expanding this competition.”

“It is an exciting time for USA women’s rugby. Bringing all-star-style tournaments back to identify players is huge,” Asgharzadeh added. “This pathway initiative by HP is indicative of their commitment to creating more inclusive opportunities for talent to be identified and more opportunities for players to compete at a higher level, which I am excited about!”

WPL Facebook will live-stream all four matches. Times listed in local Mountain Time.


Thursday, Aug. 1

3 p.m. WPL East vs. Senior Club

5 p.m. WPL West vs. WCAAs

Saturday, Aug. 3 

9:30 a.m. 3rd Place

11:30 a.m. Championship

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