USA Women's Sevens look to extend medal streak in Hamilton and Sydney

Mike Lee - KLC Photos
Mike Lee - KLC Photos

Fresh off two bronze medal finishes, the USA Women’s Sevens squad look to repeat and improve upon their results at the next two stops on the 2023 World Rugby Sevens Series in the South Pacific as the traveling squad for Hamilton and Sydney Sevens is confirmed. 

The USA head to New Zealand for the first tournament of 2023 as they continue their quest for Olympic qualification. The Eagles will face off against Spain, Brazil, and Ireland while in Hamilton and will have to play against different strengths to dominate this next tournament and get one step closer to earning a coveted spot in Paris 2024. Hamilton Sevens kicks off Friday, January 20. All matches will be live on Peacock. 

Hamilton Sevens Preview

The Eagles are sitting in Olympic qualification territory with a third-place World ranking and hope to keep up the momentum heading into the new year. Remaining healthy and at the top of their game, Head Coach Emilie Bydwell is keeping the core group of athletes that played in Dubai and Cape Town. 

Lauren Doyle returns to the pitch after injury, in her now 10th HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, joining Naya Tapper as co-captain in Hamilton. Rookie Sammy Sullivan returns to the pitch alongside the core group of veteran players. Making her debut in the desert last December, Sullivan was a breakout offensive threat in Dubai and Cape Town, whose game-winning tries and plays were critical in earning two bronze medals at both tournaments. 

The Eagles’ first Pool C match is against Spain, who they last defeated 17-0 in Langford in May 2022. Spain currently ranks eighth, so will look to upset a top team in Hamilton. Next up is Brazil, who will also be looking for another win to up their overall rank. The Eagles defeated Brazil 15-7 in their last game in Toulouse last May. Finally, the USA will face off against Ireland, a team who has already proven their prowess several times this season. The Eagles won their last three games against Ireland, and will look to match the offensive momentum Ireland brings to keep the streak going. We can all expect some fireworks in the Pool C finale for sure. 

Returning to the pitch for the first time this season, co-captain Lauren Doyle noted: 

“We are very excited to be heading to New Zealand. Being back with the squad has been incredible. Injuries are part of our sport and coming back is never easy, but I am very lucky to have a great staff surrounding me that made the process a piece of cake. We are looking forward to another opportunity to compete with the best teams in the world.”

Head Coach Emilie Bydwell’s comments heading into Hamilton: 

“After a tight turn around and a purposeful refinement block back in Chula Vista, we are refreshed and excited to have the opportunity to get back on the series straight away to continue to develop and perform on the world stage. While we are happy with the outcome of the first two tournaments, we know that has put us in a position where teams are gunning for us and we need to be prepared to meet what’s coming.  

We are confident in what our potential is as a group and how we want to play, so our goal continues to be bringing that to life and to be 5% better across every aspect of the game each tournament. Our ability to remain present and take every tournament one game at a time continues to be critical to our success.” 

USA Women’s Sevens Roster | Hamilton Sevens

Name Position HSBC Tournaments
1. Cheta Emba (she/her) Prop/Hooker 24
2. Ilona Maher Center/Prop 19
3. Kayla Canett Flyhalf / Scrumhalf 16
4. Nicole Heavirland Hooker/Scrumhalf 30
5. Alex "Spiff" Sedrick Flyhalf/Center 8
6. Alena Olsen Scrumhalf 11
7. Naya Tapper (C) Wing/Prop 28
9. Joanne "Nana" Fa’avesi (she/her) Prop 25
11. Kristen Thomas Hooker/Prop 34
12. Kristi Kirshe (she/her) Center/Prop 15
22. Sammy Sullivan Prop 2
23. Lauren Doyle (C) Wing 34
99. Jaz Gray Wing 8

USA Women’s Sevens Traveling Staff

Head Coach | Emilie Bydwell (she/her)

Athletic Trainer | Nicole Titmas (she/her)

Strength & Conditioning | Trey Ford

Sports Psychologist | Peter Haberl (he/him)

USA Women’s Sevens Hamilton Schedule

Friday, Jan. 20

v. Spain | 5:00 p.m. ET

v. Brazil | 8:40 p.m. ET

v. Ireland | 11:12 p.m. ET

Live on Peacock

Knockout stages begin 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 21.