IRB Women's Sevens Rugby: Day One Results from Houston
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The IRB Women's Rugby circuit began its first-ever stop in the United States on Friday, as the Houston Sevens kicked off at BBVA Compass Stadium.
England, the team that topped the world rankings last year, having claimed two out of three tournament wins during the 2011-12 season, arrived in Texas with their strongest team, including inspirational World Cup flanker Heather Fisher.
The plan from the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) was to send the vast majority of their women's talent to Houston, despite the fact that their XV's team is busy defending their RBS Six Nations title back in Europe.
The reason for the decision was simple. The Houston Sevens represented that last opportunity to England to give themselves a rankings boost ahead of the IRB Sevens World Cup in Russia this coming June.
The English women arrived in Texas on a mission for nothing less than victory, but how would they fare?
We bring you all of the action from Day One in Houston in this exclusive coverage on Bleacher Report.
Day One Results:
Teams: England, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Trinidad and Tobago
In what was unquestionably the toughest pool in the tournament, England and New Zealand both beat a determined Dutch side, leaving their head-to-head contest as the pool decider.
It was a brutal contest, with Fisher putting in huge hits on behalf of the England women. England held a 7-0 lead for most of the match off a try from Natasha Hunt before New Zealand's Black Ferns responded with a try of their own as the clock went dead.
The all-important conversion point was missed, however, leaving England to top their pool and claim a Cup quarterfinal matchup against the Netherlands on Saturday.
Teams: Canada, U.S., South Africa, Argentina
The most telling match in this pool came early in the day, as Canada and the U.S. battled to a 12-12 draw. That result meant that the pool standings were destined to come down to points differential.
In the end, the Americans squeaked into first place in their pool and have drawn a physical and talented Russian squad on Day Two.
Not much of a reward.
Canada, on the other hand, has drawn New Zealand in their own Cup quarterfinal contest.
Teams: Australia, Russia, Japan, Brazil
Australia can attest to how physical the Russians are, as they were just able to squeak by them by a score of 15-10. That result, in what was probably the most predictable pool, would see them finish first overall on Day One in Houston, giving them a draw against the South African women on Saturday.
All To Play For On Super Saturday
The Cup quarterfinal draw sees what most would agree are the top eight teams in the tournament square off in pursuit of the first ever Houston Sevens title and valuable IRB rankings points.
The winning team will need to produce three consecutive winning performances to emerge victorious and do so against opposition that will only grow more fierce as the day goes on.
It truly looks to be a super Saturday in Houston.
Check back here on Bleacher Report for a complete rundown on the final tournament results.
Matchups on Day Two:
England vs. The Netherlands
Canada vs. New Zealand
U.S. vs. Russia
South Africa vs. Australia
Jeff Hull is a contributor to Bleacher Report. Catch him on Twitter: @RugbyScribe
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