The USA Women’s Sevens head to Sydney for the fourth stop on the 2023 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series circuit. The Eagles look to earn their fourth consecutive medal and further cement their place in the top four, en route to Olympic qualification.
The squad landed in Sydney a day after earning the silver medal at Hamilton Sevens, their highest placement since winning gold in Malaga last year. Content with progression through last weekend, the Eagles will take the confidence earned and areas of improvement to return to the Cup final and come out on top, heading into the next Series break on the ultimate high.. The USA will see familiar faces in Fiji and Canada, and will meet newly formed Great Britain for the first time since 2021. All matches from Sydney will be LIVE on Peacock.
Head Coach Emilie Bydwell’s traveling squad remains the same, apart from Sarah Levy, who was called up to join the team in Sydney while Jaz Gray heads home to recover from injury. Levy last played on the Sevens Series in May 2022, during the Langford Sevens in Canada. A dynamic player who is also capped in 15s, Levy is a great representation of the player depth the USA carry in this all important qualification year. Nicole Heavirland, who received a two-game suspension for head-to-head contact, will sit out the first game.
Co-captain Naya Tapper will also be the latest member of the 30 tournament club in Sydney, joining current teammates Alev Kelter, Lauren Doyle, Kris Thomas and Nicole Heavirland as the only USA Women’s Sevens players to surpass that mark. Tapper first debuted on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in2015 for the São Paulo Sevens in Brazil, since then becoming the all time leading try scorer for the USA and iconic rugby sevens representative in that 30 tournament stretch.
The Eagles’ first Pool B game is a North American battle against Canada, who they last defeated 24-7 in Cape Town. Canada will be upping their defensive game in hopes to reverse the results and build some momentum from 10th place in the series rankings. The USA’s second matchup will meet Fiji, who will be looking for their first win against the USA this season. Finally, the Eagles finish their pool play with Great Britain, who currently ranks sixth in the series and have improved at each series stop this year. It will be an exciting match, as the two teams haven’t met since December 2021, where the USA won 40-17.
Comments from Head Coach Emilie Bydwell heading into Sydney Sevens:
“Whenever we have back to back tournaments we are always really excited to have the opportunity to turn our learnings from week one around into match play immediately. We showed some really positive progressions last week on both sides of the ball but most exciting was our ability to translate more of the attacking style that we’ve been training on to the pitch. But as it happens with 7s, some teams have made some adjustments to how they defend so we’ve had an opportunity to take a look at that this week so we can be really clear on how to break down the pictures we will see over the weekend.
We are also excited for Sarah Levy to have an opportunity on the World Series for the first time this season. She is a dynamic player that has the ability to win one on one battles and create opportunities for us so she will be a good addition as we look towards week two. As always we will go one game at a time and we are looking forward to facing each of our pool opponents as all three will test us in different ways.”
USA Women’s Sevens Roster | HSBC Sydney Sevens
|1. Cheta Emba (she/her)||Prop/Hooker||25|
|2. Ilona Maher||Center/Prop||20|
|3. Kayla Canett||Flyhalf / Scrumhalf||17|
|4. Nicole Heavirland||Hooker/Scrumhalf||31|
|5. Alex "Spiff" Sedrick||Flyhalf/Center||9|
|6. Alena Olsen||Scrumhalf||12|
|7. Naya Tapper (C)||Wing/Prop||29|
|9. Joanne "Nana" Fa’avesi (she/her)||Prop||26|
|11. Kristen Thomas||Hooker/Prop||35|
|12. Kristi Kirshe (she/her)||Center/Prop||16|
|13. Sarah Levy||Wing||4|
|22. Sammy Sullivan||Prop||3|
|23. Lauren Doyle (C)||Wing||35|
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 Sydney Schedule
Thursday, Jan. 26
vs Canada | 8:22 p.m. ET
Friday, Jan. 27
vs Fiji | 2:00 a.m. ET (Thursday night)
vs Great Britain | 8:28 p.m. ET
Saturday, Jan. 28
Knockouts begin at 1:54 a.m. ET (Friday night)
LIVE on Peacock