Team USA kicks off Women’s Rugby Super Series

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SAN DIEGO -- The top five women's rugby teams in the world are on display in San Diego for the next two weeks as part of the Women's Rugby Super Series.

Fifth-ranked Team USA kicks off the tournament Friday against second-ranked England at the Elite Training Center in Chula Vista. Team USA women's rugby returns to San Diego looking to defend home turf against the best teams in the world.

"We want to come out strong with big hits," said fullback Bui Baravilala. "We've got a lot of girls here with a lot of experience but also a lot of young girls, too."

"So we're going to have a little bit more rawness to us," said team captain Kate Zackary. "A little bit maybe less traditional movement around the ball, less structure where we just want to play quick, fast ball."

The round robin style tournament features New Zealand, England, Canada, France and the United States. Team USA says women super series like these help build support for rugby across the nation.

"They say it's the fastest growing sport here in America so being able to not only have rugby out here, but for the women in general," said Baravilala. "Having our national team come out here with the other top four teams in the world. I think having their support and just letting people know hey, we're here, come watch us."

Roughly 30 women make up Team USA and many of them have played locally with the San Diego Surfers rugby club who are the reigning women's Premier League Champions.

"The surfers and all club teams across the nation give us that platform to be better and to create a better women's program so to have it here, a beautiful place people want to come visit just means more fans in the stands for us," said Zackary.

Ranked fifth out of the five squads, Team USA says they're the underdogs and plan to bring "the pain train" against their stiff competition.

"We've got that fire within, the pain train is coming," said Zackary. "But to have the fans out there cheering us on, will help ignite that fire within us to really challenge those top four teams."

"You got to play against the best to be the best and it's going to be a great experience for all of us," said Baravilala. "We're going to learn a lot and grow a lot."

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