Rugby makes a return to Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium, this time for the second stop of the first annual International Rugby Board’s Women’s Sevens World Series. This series hits four global destinations: UAE (Dubai), USA (Houston), China (Guangzhou), and the Netherlands (Amsterdam).
The inclusion of rugby sevens in the Olympics in Rio in 2016 adds national interest in the sport. Rugby sevens is similar to the traditional 15 side rugby, but is played with seven players rather than 15, each playing seven minute halves. These numbers can lead to some exciting rugby, which is exactly what we got here in Houston last weekend. Twelve teams came to Houston to compete in the inaugural International Rugby Boards Women’s Sevens World Series.
In the final Bowl match, Brazil was able to beat off a tough Japan side 12-7. Minutes ticked off the clock as Brazil fought hard to keep the Japanese from scoring a deciding try, which is a score in rugby.
The third place match paired two teams that are no strangers to rugby, men or women– New Zealand vs. Australia. Most spectators knew it would be a tough match. At the end of play it was 12-12, going into extra time, but it was Australian Ellia Green that would finally able to pull out the victory, winning the 3rd place spot 17-12. After the match, New Zealand coach, Sean Horan, claimed to have felt that the refs did not give both teams the respect that was due, while recognizing that it is always tough when the two teams play each other. Horan said that, all in all, he felt this was a great tournament.
The final match was played by the United States rivaling England. The US women’s team surprised a lot of teams over the weekend, beating South Africa 22-19 and smashing Argentina 41-0 in pool matches, then defeating Russia 15-7 and dominating Australia 17-5 to make it to the finals. England had it tough, also having to defeat New Zealand 19-12 to make it to the final. England made two quick tries at 10-0, before Kelly Griffen scored the first try for the US. The missed conversion made it 10-5. By the end of the fitst half, the US had fought back to make it 12-10. However, the second half was not to be on their side, as England came back to dominate with a winning score of 29-12. After the match, Player of the Tournament was granted to Heather Fisher, who was estatic to win the tournament boot. US Hooker Victoria Folayan was happy with her team’s performance, stating that she thought they played great, but missed out on some opportunities that might of cost us the game. She also stated that they look forward to the rest of the series, which now goes on to China for the next round.
The series lead belongs to New Zealand– with 34 points– followed by Australia with 30, and England with 28. The United States sits in sixth place with 22 points. With over 4,000 participating spectators in this year’s tournament, the tournament host is excited in preparing for next year, as it looks like there is going to be even more interest in this tournament. The women’s tournament is something that will continue to grow and grow with community involvement.
In men’s rugby, The Vegas Sevens Tournament is next week.