The Women’s All-Star Week culminated with the Women’s Premier League (WPL) all-star squads meeting in the final, which built nice anticipation for the season that starts on Aug. 17. While there were Eagle pool players named to each squad, the outing allowed deeper insight into the country’s elite league, and the tournament as a whole highlighted age grade talent and those operating outside of the WPL.
The East and West WPL All-Stars won their Thursday matches against the DI/DII Club All-Stars and Women’s Collegiate All-Americans, respectively. East coach Ros Chou (read more) and West coach Parisa Asgharzadeh (read more) were both pleased with their squads’ performances and eager to face their counterpart in the final.
A lead-changing first half evolved and saw the two flyhalves account for each side’s first points. The East’s Corinne Heavner connected for an early penalty and 3-0 lead and then West co-captain Megan Foster dotted down the game’s first try and conversion, 7-3 to the West.
East back Cyndi Campbell, who had a great weekend, scored 25-minute mark and right before half, West wing Tiffany Tate put down the West’s second try. Foster’s second conversion put the West up 14-10 at the break, but the East was far from disheartened. Dynamic wing Kelli Smith opened up the second stanza with a try for the 15-14 lead.
“At halftime we talked about cleaning up our play and not forcing the offload,” Asgharzadeh explained. “We cleaned up our play a bit in the second half and started seeing and attacking space better which took us to the final result. We had an amazing group of finishers who also stepped in and brought fresh legs and energy to the game which proved to help as well.”
Glendale hooker Jeanna Beard scored near the turn of the fourth quarter, but the final 10 minutes saw Sam Luther, Juliann Tordonato and Foster all dot down. Another Foster conversion sealed the 36-15 win.
“I was very impressed by all the athletes throughout the week,” Asgharzadeh considered standout performances. “Particularly in the final, Shelby Lin and Megan Foster, captains of the West, worked to keep the pace of the game consistent and their team up although they were having a hard time with handling and composure in the extreme heat. I have to also give a shout out to the West forwards who cleaned up and executed their lineouts as well as dominated in the scrums. The blitz defense played by both teams was also impressive and the collision were impressive.”
The all-star game has a unique position on the calendar. There are no 15s leagues in the summer as the country embraces 7s; in fact, many faces that appeared in Glendale, Colo., will now take center stage in Kansas City, Mo., for this weekend’s Club 7s National Championship. The all-star final, however, builds nice anticipation for the impending WPL season and serves as a starting point for expectations.
“The grit and determination that showed up in the final speaks to the talent in the WPL,” Asgharzadeh concluded. “I’d personally like to see better ball handling by both teams as the game was stopped due to knock-ons more than typical; however, the IQ of rugby is beginning to increase with the go-forward rugby that WPL teams are playing and it is exciting to see how it is transforming the quality of play in the U.S.”
For more information on the WPL, visit wplrugby.org.