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In 1991, the IRB (World Rugby) organized its first Women’s World Cup in Cardiff, Wales, won by the USA Eagles, who beat England 19-6 in the final. The Eagles went undefeated in the inaugural event, winning against the Netherlands (7-0) and the USSR (46-0) in the opening pool round. Then, they defeated New Zealand 7-0 in the semis. This last victory avenged the team’s only Test match loss, a 1990’s Black Ferns 9 and USA 3 result. The USA entered the RWC tournament 5-1 in previous Test matches, which included three wins over Canada.
The opening contest against the Netherlands took place in torrential rain, and near freezing temperatures. The match was won on a Patty Jervey try and an Andi Morrell penalty. The second pool game, played on dry ground, witnessed winger Patty Jervey’s hat trick, and Candi Orsini’s double try performance to produce a shutout against the Lady Bears.
The semis drew the USA against New Zealand, while England played France. The Eagles backs broke through New Zealand with breakaway runs by Jervey and Patty Connell. The pack, especially, the front row, dominated, leading to a push over try by Barb Bond. (A try scored four points in 1991.)
England was next in the finals; the Red Roses were an experienced side playing in front of many English fans. The USA predominated 19-6, surpassing their opponents in all facets of play. Claire Godwin scored two tries for the Eagles, and was named MVP by Rugby Magazine. USA Coach Kevin O’Brien asserted the win was due to “pressure and fitness.”
USA RWC players: Flavin, Sullivan V., Sorenson, Breckenridge, Flanagan, Godwin, Whitehead, Flores ©, Connell, Harju, McFarren, Crawford, Orsini, Jervey, Sullivan M., Bond ©, Huffer, Hertz, Thompson, Rutkowski, Meredith, Crawford, Morrell, Seabaugh, Dixey, and Fugate.
The 1991 World Cup winners team would be inducted into the USA Rugby Hall of Fame in 2017. Three of the players on the squad also received individual honors in the Hall: Patty Jervey (2015), Kathy Flores (2016), and Candi Orsini (2017.)