USA Women’s Sevens Eye the Podium at Final HSBC Seven Series Stop in Toulouse

Mike Lee - KLC Photos
Mike Lee - KLC Photos

The USA Women’s Sevens squad head to Toulouse for their final stop on the 2023 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, where they will strive for a podium finish to secure a record medal count for the program in Series history. 

Twelve players head to Toulouse Sevens following a memorable Hong Kong tournament, where the team earned early qualification to the 2024 Olympics. With qualification secured, the USA will focus on repeated results they had all season, medaling at all but one tournament thus far. If the USA once again find the podium, it will set a single season record for most medals in the program’s history, at six. Ilona Maher remains out with a healing ankle, while two-way threat Sammy Sullivan rejoins the group. Summer Harris-Jones joins the squad in Toulouse following a tour with the 15s in Spain.

A strong pool awaits the Eagles, with New Zealand headlining Pool A and Canada and Poland bringing their own strengths. HSBC Toulouse Sevens kicks off Friday, May 12, LIVE on Peacock. 

Comments from Head Coach Emilie Bydwell ahead of Toulouse Sevens: 

“Following mixed emotions in Hong Kong, the elation of qualifying early paired with the disappointment of our first quarterfinal exit of the season, we have had one of our best and most competitive training blocks of the season. While the goal all year has been top four, once that was achieved we have needed to zero in on things even more to ensure that over the next 14 months we have done the work required to be on the podium.  

We are excited about our pool and the opportunity that starting off with Canada provides to us in our own journey as a team to be at our best. Poland we know has strong threats, disciplined set pieces and are just coming off the Challenger series so will be competition ready. As I mentioned above, with top four no longer being the goal, having New Zealand in our pool is a test that we need and are looking forward to.

This was the most difficult selection of the year. Our training group as a whole has progressed considerably over the last year and we are now in a place where playing well doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be selected, because so many people are playing well and we have a good range of strengths and talent. This inner competition, while challenging, is exactly what we need to enter next year, because at the end of the day it will enable us to breed the best possible American Women’s team for the Paris Olympic Games.  

One mention to note is the inclusion of Summer Harris-Jones in the selection. She had her first cap over a year ago in Dubai and she had been working hard in the residency to achieve this goal. I want to thank Rich Ashfield and the 15s program because through our conversations Summer was able to leave the environment and get international experience in Spain this year and then come back and has really kicked on since that experience.”

Tournament Preview

A North American rivalry kicks off the USA’s weekend in Toulouse, with Canada meeting them on the pitch for what will be an exciting match. Their last matchup in Hong Kong saw an upset, with Canada taking away their first win against the USA all season. They’ll be looking to repeat such results, while the USA will be focused on reversing the results of the last game. 

Next, the USA plays New Zealand, who currently sits at the top of the World Rugby Sevens Series standings. The Black Ferns have been a tough team to crack, winning every matchup against the Eagles thus far, but the USA is up to the challenge and has to take advantage of each opportunity against the top squad. The USA finishes their Pool A tour with Poland, who will be making their Series debut at this tournament. The two teams last met on the pitch at the 2022 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town, where the USA came away with a 39-7 win. Both squads will be applying that experience to look for a win in Toulouse.

USA Women’s Sevens Roster | HSBC Toulouse Sevens

Name Position HSBC Tournaments
1. Cheta Emba (she/her) Prop/Hooker 28
3. Kayla Canett Flyhalf/Scrumhalf 20
5. Alex “Spiff” Sedrick Center 11
6. Alena Olsen Scrumhalf 15
7. Naya Tapper (C) Wing/Prop 32
10. Steph Rovetti Flyhalf/Wing 9
11. Kristen Thomas Hooker/Prop 38
12. Kristi Kirshe (she/her) Prop/Hooker 19
15. Alev Kelter Prop/Fly Half 38
22. Sammy Sullivan Prop/Wing 5
23. Lauren Doyle (C) Fly Half 38
27. Summer Harris-Jones Prop 2

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 Toulouse Schedule

Friday, May 12

v. Canada | 4:44 a.m. ET

v. New Zealand | 10:36 a.m. ET

Saturday, May 13

v. Poland | 3:59 a.m. ET

Knockouts begin 8:42 a.m. ET

Sunday, May 14

Knockouts continue