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Zackary, Baravilala on USA Opener

  • 27 Jun 2019

The Women’s Super Series is huge, and it kicks off tomorrow. The top-five teams in the world are descending on Chula Vista, Calif., and the intimacy of the training center puts spectators within arm’s reach of the game’s pace-setters. The USA Women’s 15s team opened up its training session Wednesday, and captain Kate Zackary and wing Bui Baravilala took time to field questions.

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First up for the USA is England, and this performance will set the foundation for expectations and improvements to come. Fortunately, there is some momentum in the Eagle camp. In addition to the increase in time spent together – from regional training weekends, to the Barbarians game, to the Canada assembly in June – the country as a whole is still beaming from the USA 7s’ stellar finish. The Eagles won gold at the Paris 7s and finished second overall on the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series. There are several USA 7s residents in 15s camp, including Alev Kelter and Kris Thomas, who were on the ground for that final victory over New Zealand in France.

“[W]e really want to follow that lead and continue to break through our own barriers in 15s,” Zackary said of her 7s counterparts. “So we want to support them. We want them to be a part of our team. And then keep the sites set for us on [15s] World Cup and then help them with their upcoming Olympics.”

The Eagles have been in camp since June 22, so the 7s players have had some time to sync up with the 15s regulars. Still, Zackary knows the series will be a work in progress.

“I think we’re a different team,” Zackary compared the USA with its opposition. “Again you’ve got these teams who practice a lot together, they spend a lot more time together. We’re really split among our club teams and then we come together for a week at a time or 10 days at a time. So we’re going to have a little bit more rawness to us. A little bit maybe less traditional movement around the ball, less structure. Where we just want to play quick, fast ball. We’ve got a lot of athletes on the team, who can run really quickly, they can kick downfield. They can make those big tackles, get back up and keep playing. And so for us it’s going to be the more athletic [game], just keep the ball alive, keep it moving and basically just outpace the other teams.”

England, New Zealand, France and Canada are equally athletic, and so this series will be a great opportunity for growth.

“Competition is high up there but you know what they say: You’ve got to play against the best to be the best,” Baravilala told on-site reporters. “It’s going to be a great experience for all of us; we’re going to learn a lot.”

Baravilala, like Zackary, is a capped 15s Eagle and former 7s resident. They understand the pressures of international rugby, but this five-team tournament is special.

“We’re on home soil. We want to come out strong with big hits,” Baravilala spoke to intent. “We have a lot of girls here with a lot of experience and also a lot of young girls too that have looked up to the older girls. Today’s training really showcased that, of us just coming together and vibing and connecting.

“Every time I throw on a USA jersey, I’m with my teammates, we’re all together – it’s such an amazing moment,” the wing said of pride. “Nothing can replace that feeling and again just to be here on U.S. soil playing for everyone else that’s going to come support us – our families, our friends – super grateful, super proud.”

For more information on the Women’s Super Series, click here.

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