USA Women’s Sevens Head to Cape Town For Second Series Stop of the Season

Mike Lee - KLC Photos
Mike Lee - KLC Photos

The USA Women’s Sevens head to their second stop on the 2023 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Cape Town.

The women return to South Africa after competing for bronze at the 2022 Rugby World Cup Sevens in September, and will look to bring home more this time around. Heading into this weekend’s tournament with a bronze medal from Dubai Sevens, the team looks to keep up their momentum en route to qualification for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics. The Eagles face off against familiar teams in Japan, Canada, and France in Pool C of Cape Town Sevens. 

Tournament Preview

The USA are a core group of athletes with a number of years playing together, a strength on display last week in Dubai and experience they will look to capitalize on again in Cape Town. In their first Pool C matchup this weekend, the USA will face Japan. The last time the teams saw each other was at the Tokyo 2020 Games, where the USA came away with a 17-7 win. Japan, who finished 10th in Dubai, will be looking for their first pool stage win of the season. In their next match, the USA will play Canada for another border battle. The USA beat their North American neighbors last week 12-7, so Canada will be looking to turn around the results. Lastly, the USA will play France, who they just played in the bronze medal final in Dubai, coming away with a 21-19 win.

Naya Tapper will return as Captain, while another member of the core group in Nicole Heavirland will run out for her 30th HSBC Sevens Series tournament, becoming only the fourth USA Women’s Eagle to reach the that mark, following teammates Alev Kelter, Lauren Doyle and Kristen Thomas. 

Comments from Head Coach Emilie Bydwell heading into Cape Town sevens: 

“Having the opportunity to compete in a back to back tournament is very exciting for us because we are able to take our learnings from week one and implement them straight away in week two. It is also an awesome test of our ability to be resilient and tap into our purpose and identity to find the next level of energy and commitment that will drive our performance. We will have to rise to the occasion as we look toward the intensity and intent we will see from the other teams!

As far as what we are looking to improve on, for us it’s as simple as how we can make an incremental improvement in each area of our game. From an attacking perspective, we need to continue to have the courage to implement the work we have been doing in preseason. Defensively, we showed great commitment so we want to continue that, but need to refine our detail in our tracking and connection to provide teams with less opportunities to narrow us.  Overall we were unhappy with our penalty count across the board, so we will be asking for a more disciplined performance so that we are not giving teams as many opportunities to be on the front foot.

We are looking forward to the challenge of playing two teams we saw last weekend in our pool again. It's always a challenge to beat a good team twice in a row and we will need to step up our execution, awareness and energy if we want to be in a good position after the first three games.   Japan put in some skillful performances last weekend, and they will stress us in different ways than France and Canada so we need to be prepared to put our best foot forward from minute one.”


USA Women’s Sevens Roster | HSBC Cape Town Sevens

Name HSBC Tournaments
1. Cheta Emba (she/her) 23
2. Ilona Maher 18
3. Kayla Canett 15
4. Nicole Heavirland 28
5. Alex "Spiff" Sedrick 6
6. Alena Olsen 10
7. Naya Tapper (C) 26
9. Joanne "Nana" Fa'avesia (she/her) 24
10. Stephanie Rovetti 7
11. Kristen Thomas 33
12. Kristi Kirshe (she/her) 14
22. Sammy Sullivan 1
99. Jaz Gray 7


USA Women’s Eagles Traveling Staff

Head Coach | Emilie Bydwell (she/her)

Assistant Coach | Zack Test

Athletic Trainer | Nicole Titmas (she/her)

Strength & Conditioning | Trey Ford

Sports Psychologist | Peter Haberl (he/him)

Team Manager | Liz Strohecker (she/her)


USA Women’s Sevens Cape Town Schedule

Friday, Dec 9 vs Japan | 5:22 a.m. ET vs Canada | 10:08 a.m. ET

Saturday, Dec 10 vs France | 5:19 a.m. ET

Knockout stages start Saturday, December 10 at 10:44 a.m. ET

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