USA women’s 7s coach Ric Suggitt has a lot of work ahead of him. With a program that has played in only one tournament so far this year, and with massive turnover still being managed post 2009 World Cup, he is in the unenviable position of finding players and re-starting the program.
This past summer was a fairly enthusiastic one for women’s 7s, as more teams embraced the short-game code and the standard at the National All-Star 7s was more consistently good. But with many players out due to the World Cup or preparation for the Women’s Premier League season, not to mention the college season, at the very top perhaps the competition suffered.
Suggitt praised the NASC event as a whole, saying the hosts and sponsors did a good job providing a “top-class event.” Does that mean he was disappointed in the level of play.
Not at all.
“Wow, what a pleasant surprise,” Suggitt told RUGBYMag.com. “Each territory had quality players and hopefully we can get them to attend future Eagle 7s camps and events. The added bonus was that I got to meet first-hand all the territory coaches.”
Many teams depended on youth. The Northeast had one of its youngest teams in years, and Southern California fielded a team almost entirely made up of high-schoolers.
“Each territory did what they had to do to make the tournament competitive,” said Suggitt, adding that building for the future is a big part of the event. “But we also need leaders and role models with each program. Looking from the outside and observing the South, I think they more then accomplished the correct mix. Pat Neder led by example and showed that if you combine knowledge of the 7s game and fitness that at 43 you can still be very dangerous. The young players on her squad will be the quickest benefactors if they apply themselves. The opposition players should also be taking notes.
“[SoCal coach] Sheri Hunt brought a very young squad and that will do well for the future. She also had a couple of older players to help guide the youngsters. This is a good use of leadership and I was impressed with their squads overall effort.”
And of course Suggitt had his young USA Development team which finished 3-2, losing only to the two finalists, and winning the Bowl. The fact they started a little shaky and got better as the tournament progressed was not lost on the players.
“They understand now the importance of finishing in the top two of your pool,” said Suggitt. “We got off to a slow and messy start against MARFU and didn’t score until late in the match. Even though we scored first against the South, we were outsmarted and that is a valuable lesson to learn when you don’t get much competition at this level of play.”