USA Women’s Sevens Complete Record-Setting Season with Silver in Toulouse and Bronze Series Medal

The USA Women’s Sevens squad capped off a record-setting season with a silver medal at the HSBC France Sevens in Toulouse. Their total 108 points earned the squad the Series Bronze medal for 2023. With their sixth medal of the season, the Eagles completed their 2023 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with the most medals the team has ever earned on the circuit. 

An upset in the semifinals against Australia solidified the USA’s spot in their second Cup Final of the year, where the Eagles met New Zealand for the second time this weekend in a close game that proved to be an incredible fight. Their work in Toulouse earned 18 Series points to take 108 overall, solidifying their bronze medal finish for the season and marking their return to the overall Series podium for the first time since silver in 2019. Having already earned early qualification for Paris 2024, the top three finish sets the USA up well as a fierce medal contender during the Summer Olympics. 

Returning to the sevens pitch, veteran Alev Kelter earned her 100th series try, becoming only the second to reach that mark with the USA Women’s Sevens, following the legendary footsteps of teammate, Naya Tapper. 

Comments from Head Coach Emilie Bydwell: 

"I'm really proud of the team this weekend overall. While we had some positive moments on the first day, we knew that we were going to need to take a step forward and improve our collective focus and execution of the details going into day two. We produced some excellent segments in both the Poland and Fiji matches, but we knew that going into the semis vs Australia, we were going to need to level up again to contain such a ruthless attacking team, and that’s exactly what our Highwomen did. That result means so much to us and shows the progress of this team over the last 12 months. Even looking back at that game, we know how much better we can be and we are excited to drive forward over the next few months to make that happen. Also, winning the Australia game with all 12 players on our roster having an impact sets the tone for the type of team that we are building and the trust and confidence that we have in our whole roster.

Our Cup Final performance is the perfect way to end this season that has been defined by our team values, in particular worth ethic, courage, and resilience. Our team leads with love in everything that we do, and we feel that’s really beginning to show on the pitch. We knew that we were going to need to play present and take everything one moment at a time, which resulted in a lead at halftime. For us, the progression is all around how we can continue to be more effective as a unit to create space, promote continuity, and ultimately make the appropriate tactical decisions in the moment to close out a final against the World’s best. While it sounds cliche, losing that final does more for us at this stage than winning it. There is no shortage of belief in this team and we are prepared to do the work required to take the next step.

The grit, resilience, work ethic, and selflessness that this team has shown over the course of the season has produced consistent results. We used 18 players across the course of the season and grew tremendously as a group. Accomplishing our goals of top four qualification, exceeding 100 World Series points, and ultimately doing the work required to fortify our platform for the 23/24 season has built belief and fueled our commitment to not stopping now and really push forward to ensure that we we achieve our goals in 2024."

Tournament Recap

The Eagles opened their France Sevens tour with an epic USA v. Canada showdown. Having broken a four-game losing streak in Hong Kong, Canada entered the pitch with ambition to reverse the streak on the Eagles. With the USA kicking off, Canada had the advantage early and looked to stretch the ball out wide. A knock on gave it away to the USA, but Canada proved strong in defense, winning the first of several breakdowns to take the ball back and score the opening try. Kristi Kirshe responded quickly off the restart to gain some ground, where Alena Olsen found the ball and faked a pass to Naya Tapper before ultimately sneaking one to the co-captain for the first USA try. Co-captain Lauren Doyle turned around quickly for the second USA try, and the Eagles kept up the momentum, capitalizing on Canadian handling errors for Kirshe to score the final try of the first half right up the middle. 

Another early error by Canada’s side marked the start of the first half, but they proved lethal at the breakdowns once again to turn over the ball. The USA found themselves scrambling in defense, conceding back-to-back penalties while Canada started quickly in Eagles territory to get over the try line. Despite the errors, the USA’s tenacity showed through Tapper, who responded to Canada points by taking the ball and slicing up the middle, outpacing the opponent for her second try of the match. Canada scored their third try with minutes left, and looked to score one more to tie up the game. It was Sammy Sullivan who had the final say with a crucial turnover, helping end the game to notch a 26-19 win. 

The Eagles’ second match of the day was a matchup with New Zealand. Facing the Series leaders in pool play is a big challenge, but the USA used it as their chance to show their strengths. It was New Zealand with the early control, though, who took it away for the first try of the game. Fumbles of the slippery ball by both sides turned over possession a few times before New Zealand struck again. The restart didn’t go 10 meters, giving the USA their first real chance with ball in hand. Cheta Emba tapped and went toward the try line, passing off to Alex “Spiff” Sedrick, who ran straight to five points. It was a quick turnaround in possession, as New Zealand conceded a penalty for a USA scrum. Feeding the ball, Alena Olsen quickly turned and received to evade tacklers and score again for the USA.

Throughout the match, the Black Ferns were urgent on the loose balls, while the Eagles couldn’t hold on to their restarts. Slippery conditions exhausted both teams, and both missed critical scoring opportunities. The USA did well to stay urgent in attack, but New Zealand was too strong on offense, taking away the win 12-31. 

The USA faced off against invitational team Poland for their final pool match in France. The Eagles were dominant from the start. While Poland put up a solid defense to try and keep the USA at bay, their turnover opportunity ended quickly when Cheta Emba stopped an attempted kick and chase and passed overhead to Sammy Sullivan for the opening try. Poland didn’t have much time with ball in hand during the first half, and the USA showed pure dominance to score four tries in the first seven minutes, with Alex “Spiff” Sedrick scoring the second right off a scrum. Alev Kelter evaded tacklers and dove through the middle to earn her 100th career Series try, becoming only the second USA woman to score a century’s worth of tries. Cheta Emba closed out the first half with another USA try on the side. 

The Eagles seemed to lose steam in the second half, giving away possession several times with some scrappy play. Their loss in fluidity allowed Poland an attack to strike, but they conceded a penalty inches from the try zone for the USA and spread the ball wide and get back downfield. The low-scoring second half didn’t see anyone in the try zone again until the end, when Steph Rovetti sprinted for a quick try, adding to the USA point total to help them win the game 31-0. 

The USA and Fiji met on the quarterfinal pitch for the fourth time this season, with Fiji eyeing Olympic qualification and the USA eyeing the Series podium. At kickoff, Fiji had the first chance at the ball with a scrum, but the USA pushed forward and won possession in a rare set piece turnover. The squad built momentum quickly with Sammy Sullivan finishing the play to open up the score. Immediately on restart the USA kept control, pushing Fiji back for a turnover and another try from Alev Kelter. Fiji worked hard to keep the ball alive against a strong USA defense, and their work finally paid off as they made their way into USA territory for the first time to score with two minutes left. The score didn’t phase the Eagles, as they used a scrum to feed the ball to Kris Thomas, who used her fresh legs from the bench to get up and run for a try to end the first half. 

The Eagles lost some fluidity early on in the second half, leaving Fiji to score two tries off scrums to close the score gap, becoming just one try away from tying the game. Frantic to protect the ball, the USA worked to keep up a strong attack. An illegal steal from Fiji kept possession to the USA, who were able to hold on and kick the ball out to win 22-17 and lock in a semifinal matchup against Australia. 

Focusing in on their semifinal matchup, the USA knew they had to be in control of the ball the entire 14 minutes against Australia to take a win. Australia was on the receiving end to start, but Cheta Emba put the pressure on and batted the ball back into USA possession within Australia’s 22. The squad was patient on the ball as they used small passes to test and confuse Australia’s defenses, and it was Kristi Kirshe who capitalized on their momentum and opened up the scoring. The Eagles kept on the pressure, and Australia felt it as they had uncharacteristic miscommunication and early errors that kept turning the ball over into USA hands. Australia struggled to get out of their own territory for the first half while also experiencing multiple handling errors while the USA took every opportunity to keep Australia at bay. 

Heading into the second half, Australia was determined to reverse the score and earn control. They worked hard to compete at the breakdown, but the USA worked just as hard to stay in the game. Australia finally found a chance to start quickly and get a try under the posts, but it would be the last time they saw the try zone. With the clock ticking down, the USA had possession and needed one more score to punch a ticket to their second Cup Final of the season. Patient offloads and speed on the threes let the Eagles stretch the ball wide to Naya Tapper, who ran from one end to the other for the game-ending try, securing a Cup Final for the USA with a 10-7 win. 

Eyeing the France Sevens gold, the USA entered the Cup Final in dominant fashion, winning their own kickoff and scoring points early on. A yellow card to the Black Ferns for an intentional knock on gave the USA a two-minute power play. Naya Tapper was the first to strike in the try zone by running the line and finding the gap. Remaining patient on the ball, a dummy pass by Kristi Kirshe gave her the space to score another five under the posts. Alena Olsen converted four points to add to the score before the USA’s power play ended and New Zealand got one of their own as Olsen headed to the sin bin for an intentional knock. The Black Ferns didn’t get out of their own territory until the last minute of the first half, where they finally found the try zone. A dominant first half for the USA set them up well for the rest of the game. 

The USA worked hard to get control of the ball in the second half, but struggled to get out of their own 22. New Zealand capitalized on attack to score two more tries and take the lead again, but one more score could reverse the result. With ball in hand, the Eagles couldn’t find their way past New Zealand, and the clock ran down in favor of the Black Ferns, securing the silver medal for the USA, 14-19. 

It was also a milestone weekend for two athletes, as Steph Rovetti played in her 10th HSBC Sevens tournament and Kristi Kirshe notched her 20th tournament appearance.

USA Women's Sevens Roster | HSBC France Sevens

Name Position HSBC Tournaments
1. Cheta Emba Prop/Hooker 29
3. Kayla Canett Flyhalf/Scrumhalf 21
5. Alex “Spiff” Sedrick Center 12
6. Alena Olsen Scrumhalf 16
7. Naya Tapper (C) Wing/Prop 33
10. Steph Rovetti Flyhalf/Wing 10
11. Kristen Thomas Hooker/Prop 39
12. Kristi Kirshe Prop/Hooker 20
15. Alev Kelter Prop/Fly Half 39
22. Sammy Sullivan Prop/Wing 6
23. Lauren Doyle (C) Fly Half 39
27. Summer Harris-Jones Prop 3

USA Women’s Sevens Traveling Staff

Head Coach | Emilie Bydwell (she/her)

Assistant Coach | Zack Test

Athletic Trainer | Nicole Titmas (she/her)

Strength & Conditioning | Trey Ford

USA Women’s Sevens France Results

Pool A

v. Canada | 26-19 (W)

v. New Zealand | 12-31 (L)

v. Poland | 31-0 (W)


v. Fiji | 22-17 (W)


v. Australia | 10-7 (W)


v. New Zealand | 14-19 (L)

HSBC France Sevens Full Results »