USA Women’s Sevens finish ninth in Singapore

Sun, May 5, 2024, 12:34 PM
by Taylor Dean
Mike Lee - KLC Photos
Mike Lee - KLC Photos

The USA Women’s Sevens finished ninth in Singapore in a challenging weekend, wrapping up the 2024 HSBC SVNS ahead of the season finale in Madrid. 

The squad used the Singapore tournament to provide competition exposure to the broader squad, with Jessica Lu earning her SVNS debut. Despite the ninth place finish, the Eagles finished fourth in the series overall as they booked their ticket to the final in Madrid. 

Alev Kelter notched 1,000 career points in Singapore, becoming only the fifth woman on the SVNS series to achieve that milestone. 

The USA will now look toward the Madrid final, where the team will shoot for a podium finish as they ramp up toward Paris 2024. HSBC Madrid SVNS kicks off Friday, May 31, live on RugbyPass

Comments from Head Coach Emilie Bydwell: 

“This was a challenging weekend, but we have known all along that this campaign was not going to be linear. Every brick we lay, every opportunity that we have, we learn from and we use that to drive us forward. This competition reminded us that we need to be prepared to deliver detail, effort, focus, and control from minute one. Every team on the World Series can win any game at any moment and this tournament was a critical reflection of that.  

The tournament was critical to our plan overall. We had a few guiding principles that we had laid out at the beginning of the campaign, and one of those was ensuring that we pressure tested and provided meaningful competition exposure to our broader squad. Doing this not only breeds inner competition, but also prepares us for adversity at any stage. We have some really difficult decisions to make now as we narrow our focus into the next two pinnacle events, but ultimately we take a lot of pride in the fact that we had 20 players play over the course of the last seven tournaments and the team achieved a top four ranking at the end of regular season.  

Our focus will narrow now, as we prepare to go for a podium performance in Madrid. We know how much work that will take, and how focused and determined we will need to be. A core priority will be about how we play to our identity and maximize our strengths so we can ultimately be the best version of ourselves under pressure.”

Tournament Recap: 

The USA had the first touch of the ball in their opening match against South Africa. Lauren Doyle and Jaz Gray connected well on the wing to gain ground and get the ball to Sarah Levy, who scored the first try of the match. But South Africa would keep up the defensive pressure and keep the USA away from scoring again the remainder of the first half. Heading into the final seven minutes tied 7-7, the Eagles tightened up their defense to win back possession. Their work paid off as Kaylen Thomas upped the USA score with another five points. But South Africa played urgently and put the pressure on down to the last seconds. A yellow to Kaylen Thomas gave South Africa a power play advantage with a five meter scrum, setting them up perfectly to score a try and convert for the win, 12-14. 

Recentered and refocused following their first game, the USA headed into their matchup with Japan with determination to put in a win. But Japan reminded the Eagles of their quick speeds and deceptive attacking plays. Japan used their scrums to get space on the outside for scores, leaving the Eagles struggling to get into their attacking flow. Kaylen Thomas broke away for the first USA score, while Japan took a yellow card for pulling her hair as she sped away. With a final attacking chance, Jaz Gray and Cheta Emba found good connecting offloads as they built up for Gray’s try on the wing. But Japan would take the win, 12-22. 

The Eagles’ final pool match against France would ultimately decide the USA’s placement into the quarterfinals or rankings games. France scored almost immediately off kickoff, and put on a lot of defensive pressure that caused a few USA handling errors. A yellow card to Alev Kelter gave France a power play chance to put up another score. On attack, the USA found their way down the field with patient offloads, and it was France that took the next yellow card for an intentional knock on, paving the way for Alena Olsen to score off a scrum before halftime. The Eagles picked up their momentum in the second half, with Alev Kelter and Kaylen Thomas fighting their way to two more tries, but time was against the Eagles and the score went to France, 15-19. 

Finishing third in their pool, the USA went to the ninth place semifinals for the first time this season. Facing Brazil, the Eagles were eager to get a win under their belts in Singapore, and their determination was evident. Brazil was strong on defense to start, but the USA held on to attack, getting Sarah Levy and Sammy Sullivan over the try line in the first half. The Eagles’ momentum and confidence picked up in the second half. Alev Kelter scored under the posts as the final seven minutes kicked off. The USA continued holding possession, but some handling errors and urgency pushed them back a bit. A yellow card to Brazil let the USA slow down the game, and Jaz Gray put down two more tries to win the game 33-0. 

Heading to the ninth place playoff, the USA faced a rematch against South Africa. The majority of the game was scoreless, with each side fighting for territory and forcing turnovers. Both teams were working to capitalize on loose balls, and it was South Africa who would take the first score, 30 seconds left in the first half. The entire second half was scoreless, with a lot of the same fight for possession. The Eagles had a good attacking chance nearing the end of the game, but a knock on gave it back to South Africa for the win, 5-0

The Eagles will head home to review their strengths and weaknesses that came out of Singapore as they work toward the 2024 SVNS final tournament in Madrid.

USA Women’s Sevens Roster | 2024 Singapore SVNS
Name Position Tournaments
1. Cheta Emba Prop/Hooker 33
3. Kayla Canett Flyhalf 28
4. Nicole Heavirland Hooker/ Scrum half 38
5. Alev Kelter Center 46
6. Alena Olsen Scrumhalf 23
9. Nana Fa’avesi Hooker/Prop 28
13. Sarah Levy Hooker 10
16. Jessica Lu Scrumhalf / Center 1
19. Kaylen Thomas Wing 2
22. Sammy Sullivan Prop 13
23. Lauren Doyle (C) Flyhalf 45
27. Summer Harris-Jones Prop 5
99. Jaz Gray Wing 14

USA Women's Sevens Traveling Staff | 2024 Singapore SVNS

Head Coach | Emilie Bydwell

Assistant Coach | Zack Test

Strength & Conditioning | Trey Ford

Athletic Trainer | Nicole Titmas

USA Women’s Sevens Singapore Results

Pool B

v South Africa | 12-14 (L)

v Japan | 12-22 (L)

v France | 15-19 (L)


Ninth Place Semifinal v Brazil | 33-0 (W)

Ninth Place Playoff v South Africa | 0-5 (L)