From the beginning of 2018 to the end of the pool phase of Rugby World Cup 2021, the USA Eagles women had met their Canadian counterparts six times. Their seventh meeting went the same way as the first six.
On a wet day in New Zealand, Canada asserted their dominance over their southern neighbors once again. An initial ten minutes of American dominance gave the impression it could be a dogfight for the whole afternoon. After that, Canada always felt just a bit better. A 12-8 halftime deficit felt manageable, but Canada came out of the gates hot, and an Alev Kelter yellow card sealed the Americans fate. The Northerners would walk away with a 32-11 victory.
For Canada, the reward is a date against the Red Roses of England in the semifinal. Considered the best team entering the tournament, England will be heavy favorites. The winner of that match will take on the winner of France/New Zealand to lift the cup. With the other three remaining sides maintaining a massive gap over the rest of field in terms of performance, Canada should be viewed as the scrappy ‘best of the rest.’ Additionally, their semifinal berth grants Canada automatic qualification for RWC 2025 in England.
For the Americans, it feels bittersweet. The Eagles are certainly not a bad side, but they feel left behind by the rapidly improving top tier. While 12 of their preferred 23 are playing weekly in the Allianz Premiership, the rest of the team (and talent pool) remains amateur or playing in the Women’s Premier League in the USA, a competition that pays about enough to cover related expenses. How to further professionalize the talent pool will be a serious factor in the group’s sucess moving forward. However, the team is set to receive far more tests in the coming years via the Pacific Four series and the WXV competition.