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Five For Friday: Rugby

By Paul D. Bowker | April 17, 2015, 12:01 a.m. (ET)

Lynelle Kugler charges upfield during the IRB Women's Rugby World Cup match between the USA and Ireland at the French Rugby Federation headquarters on Aug. 1, 2014 in Paris.

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The USA Women’s Eagles head into the Canada Women’s Sevens tournament in Langford, British Columbia, with a momentum push after placing second to top-ranked New Zealand in the Atlanta 7s in March.

The Eagles will face host Canada, which is ranked second in the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, in group play on Saturday. The United States will also face South Africa and Russia in matches Saturday.

Irene Gardner, who was a member of the bronze medal-winning team in the 2013 World Cup Sevens in Moscow, and Melissa Fowler are joining the Eagles for the Canada Sevens.

“Having Irene back in the fold gives us more experience on the field,” Eagles coach Ric Suggitt said. “We’ve still got a very young team.”

A cup final appearance in the Atlanta 7s pushed the Eagles to fifth place in the series standings, and just two points out of fourth place and a qualifying position for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.

The Eagles defeated Australia, the No. 2-ranked team in the world, in the quarterfinals in Atlanta. It marked the second time since the women’s series launched in 2012-13 that the United States had made a cup final.

Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.