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Team USA’s women will face Australia in a five-game series as part of the USA Sevens later this week. The matches came together at the behest of the Australians, the reigning Olympic champs.
Given they're not part of the Women’s World Series, the games won't technically feature the Eagles against the Wallabies, but the Falcons against the Pearls. Still, the regulars for both nations’ top sides will be on display, along with a few up-and-comers hoping to earn a World Series call up when the women’s competition commences in April in Kitakyushu, Japan.
“We are excited to have international women’s rugby returning to the USA Sevens this year,” said tournament director Jon Hinkin. “Although not part of the Series, we will have two of the top teams in the world with the USA and Australia.”
Two of the contests will take place inside Sam Boyd Stadium amid the main event. The first is 2:30 p.m. Friday just before the start of the World Series, and the second is Sunday at 2:18 p.m. just before the start of the Challenge Trophy final, fifth-place match and medal games. The other three will be played on the Silver Bowl fields cattycorner from the stadium, one of three sets of pitches for the Las Vegas Invitational.
"This event is significant in our performance development not only for the rest of the World Series, but in preparation for the 2018 World Cup," said Emilie Bydwell, USA Rugby’s general manager for women's high performance. "We are thankful to Australia for making the trip, but also United World Sports for making it possible to have stadium games."
The full national teams from these countries have met once this season, in the final in Dubai, which Australia won 34-0. The Eagles were happy to take silver after posting a losing record in pool play. The Falcons and Pearls met last weekend in the quarterfinals of an invitational in Okinawa, Japan, with the Australians winning.
The goals for these duels are different for each team. They’ll likely mix and match their lineups to get valuable scrimmage time for up-and-coming players, while also wanting to get their top groups more time together.
"It is very rare that you get to play a quality side like this so many times in one weekend. We will both have close to our top sides so there will be some great rugby on show," said Head Coach Richie Walker. "With the big break between Sydney and Kitakyushu, this will be good preparation for our next World Series event and the Pearls' prep for Commonwealth Games."
Women’s Exhibition Schedule
10:00 a.m. Silver Bowl Field 14
2:30 p.m. Sam Boyd Stadium
9:00 a.m. Silver Bowl Field 14
12:00 p.m. Silver Bowl Field 14
2:18 p.m. Sam Boyd Stadium