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Eagle Women Gear Up for World Cup Push

Friday Aug 21, 2009 in Women National Teams

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(Loose forwards in conference. Alex Goff photo.)


Oakville, ON - The USA has one more day before the team’s final Nations Cup match against France, kickoff at Fletcher’s Field 2:00 pm EST in Markham, Ont.

With the opportunity to go 3-1 in a very competitive tournament, their final run-through this afternoon seemed pretty light.

 

“This tour has been unlike any other,” hooker Lisa Butts said from the ice bath. “There have been many more meetings and discussions about strategy, as opposed to heavy contact training.”

 

“At our last gathering, we had a 10-day build-up before our first game,” flanker Kristin Zdanczewicz said of the Can-Am games in June. “This time, we had four days before facing one of our most physical opponents in England, so the coaches have been saving our legs for the games.”

“Ham” has played in all the matches thus far, so she’s feeling the stiffness in her shoulders and arms, but waved it off.

“I’ll be fine for tomorrow,” she said.

And that’s because if they women win tomorrow and go 3-1, it’ll be a huge statement to the world, the USA and the team itself.

“It’ll show that we’re on the up and up,” Butts said. “This camp has really brought us together and we’re gelling really well.”

“The world will see what we’re capable of, how strong we’ve become,” added prop Farrah Douglas.

“It wouldn’t just be a confidence booster,” Zdanczewicz continued. “When you lose six tests in a row, you disappoint yourself, your coaches, your fans – everybody. If we win tomorrow, it’ll be an incredible high.”

Hopefully that sentiment carries the players through the next year as they prepare for the World Cup. The squad just learned of the dates for the upcoming cycle, and if the budgeting is approved, players will have to dedicate 100 days to national team assemblies, including residency that would begin July 1 through the RWC.

To put it into perspective, the average worker receives two weeks of vacation and maybe another 10 days worth of federal holidays. That leaves a total of 240 work days. Missing as many as 100 of those has a huge effect on employee-employer relations.

“We have a lot of teachers who are worried, people quitting their jobs,” Butts said. Ham is probably quitting her assistant coaching job with a basketball team, “which I love,” she said.

 

Douglas is a little more fortunate. She’s able to leave her job and relocate from Chicago so she can focus on rugby for the next year.

 

 “My Chicago team didn't join the [Premier] league, so I’ll be heading to a Premier team,” Douglas said. “It’s not just to be sure we’re playing the highest level of rugby we can, and that we’re going head to head. It’s so after the match, we can convene and evaluate why we made certain decisions, if we were satisfied with the one on one in the front row, etc. It keeps that problem-solving mentality going.”

Butts, too, will move. A Northern California resident she isn’t making as big of a chance as Douglas.

“We were told that we all have to play in the Premier League this year,” Butts informed. “I wasn’t, so I’m going back to Berkeley.”

Although mild concern graced the three women’s faces when they considered the commitment they’ve signed on for, the reservation was short-lived.

“It’s living the dream,” Zdanczewicz exclaimed, while Butts and Douglas laughed at the cliché. Laughed, but agreed.


- Jackie Finlan

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