USA Women’s Sevens Prepare for HSBC Dubai SVNS to kick off season with sights set on Paris 2024 lead up campaign

USA Rugby
USA Rugby

Head Coach Emilie Bydwell announced today the traveling roster for Dubai and Cape Town HSBC SVNS as the team kicks off the 2023-24 season off the back of their first-ever gold medal at the Pan American Games. 

The Dubai and Cape Town traveling team reassembles the core group of Highwomen who have made their mark in women’s sevens through the years. Alev Kelter, Kris Thomas, and Co-Captain Lauren Doyle will together be running out for their 40th tournament, becoming the first three USA women to earn such an achievement. Cheta Emba will be playing in her 30th tournament as well. 

While Kristi Kirshe sits out Dubai and Cape Town as she recovers from an injury sustained at the PanAmerican Games, two notable names return to the HSBC SVNS roster. Ilona Maher, who made her comeback at the PanAms, returns to the series stage for the first time since missing out on Hong Kong and Toulouse due to injury. Jaz Gray also comes back to SVNS after an injury sustained in Hamilton last January.

HSBC Dubai SVNS kicks off what has already been a busy early season for the USA Women’s Sevens. The squad made a statement in Chile when they earned the first multi-sport games gold medal for the program at the PanAmerican Games, and hope to repeat the same success through this critical HSBC SVNS season and eventually in Paris. This season will be a build up to next summer as the squad continues to focus on fine tuning little details, remain healthy and improve in areas that separate top squads from the rest of the pack.

Tournament Preview: 

The USA will kick off their SVNS series against Spain, who they last met in Hong Kong with a 35-7 win. In their first series match, both teams will be looking to make an impression and set the tone for the year. 

The Eagles’ next Pool C match will be a famous North American showdown between Canada and the USA. The USA came away with the win in their last meeting in Toulouse, and both teams will be bringing the fire to what will be an exciting match. 

The final pool match for the Eagles is against 2023 fourth place finishers France. Last season saw multiple heart racing matches between the two, and fans can expect to see more this year as both eye gold in Paris next summer. HSBC Dubai SVNS kicks off Saturday, December 2, broadcast information to be announced soon. 

Comments from Head Coach Emilie Bydwell: 

We are really excited as a team to get back out to SVNS and test the work that we have done throughout preseason. Selections for competitions are getting more and more challenging, with 23 players in residency pushing their own personal standards, level of play and execution. We know that this is a long year, and we are looking forward to putting our best foot forward in Dubai with the focus really being on ourselves and our ability to maximize our potential, play to our strengths and dominate in some key areas of the game that set us apart. Our PanAmerican Games gold was an accomplishment that we are proud of and starting out the season by meeting an earlier milestone was important, but we know that we will need to elevate our process and our focus to meet what’s coming in Dubai.”

USA Women’s Sevens Roster | Dubai and Cape Town SVNS
Name Position HSBC Tournaments
1. Cheta Emba Prop/Hooker 29
2. Ilona Maher Center 22
3. Kayla Canett Flyhalf 21
4. Nicole Heavirland Hooker/Scrumhalf 34
5. Alev Kelter Center 39
6. Alena Olsen Scrumhalf 16
7. Naya Tapper (C) Wing 33
11. Kris Thomas Hooker/Prop 39
17. Alex “Spiff” Sedrick Center 12
21. Ariana Ramsey Wing 2
22. Sammy Sullivan Prop/Wing 6
23. Lauren Doyle (C) Wing 39
99. Jaz Gray Wing 9

USA Women’s Sevens Traveling Staff

Head Coach | Emilie Bydwell

Assistant Coach | Zack Test

Strength & Conditioning | Trey Ford

Athletic Trainer | Nicole Titmas

Media Manager | Taylor Dean

USA Women’s Sevens Schedule | 2023 Emirates Dubai SVNS

Saturday, December 2

Pool C

v Spain | 12:00am ET (Friday night)

v Canada | 2:37am ET 

v France | 7:07am ET

Sunday, December 3

Knockouts being 12:30am ET (Saturday night)