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Fukofuka Names USA Match-Day 23 for South Africa

  • 28 Mar 2024
  • 2393 Views
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USA Rugby Women’s National Team (WNT) Head Coach Sione Fukofuka has named the match-day 23 for the Saturday, March 30 game against South Africa in Ealing, England. Kickoff is at 9 a.m. and will live-stream on RugbyPass TV. [Lead graphic c/o USA Rugby]

Kate Zackary resumes her role as captain and reunites with vice captain Rachel Johnson in the loose forwards. The two played beside each other at Exeter, and then Zackary transferred to the Ealing Trailfinders in the team’s first season in Premier Women’s Rugby. Tess Feury at fullback is also a vice captain and getting her regular-season minutes at Leicester Tigers alongside prop Mae Sagapolu and reserve loose forward Tahlia Brody.

“The opportunity to work with an extended squad here in the UK has been invaluable preparation for us,” Fukofuka told USA Rugby. “Having the experience of the players in the [Premier Women’s Rugby] and Super W, working alongside our younger players and players playing in the WPL and PR7s, has allowed us to prepare well and lay the foundations for a very positive lead in.”

 

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All told, 16 of the 23 players are overseas — 15 in Premier Women’s Rugby [PWR] and one in the Super W. Additionally, Rachel Ehrecke, Jenny Kronish and Paige Stathopoulous have recently played in the U.K., and Emily Henrich has signed with Leicester (but hasn’t played for the Tigers yet).

Exeter’s Hope Rogers is back on the pitch after recovering from injury, and fellow Chief Gabby Cantorna and former Chief Charli Jacoby — now with Australia’s Queensland Reds — are looking for their 25th caps.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Cassidy Bargell and Amanda Berta have been named to the reserves and aspire to their first USA 15s cap. Bargell was identified early in her career while with Summit High School in Colorado and was a regular in the USA Pathways before heading to Harvard University and graduating in spring 2022.

Berta stood out at Penn State, where five fellow Eagles on the roster (Cantorna, Rogers, Catie Benson, Rachel Ehrecke Tess Feury) played their college ball. Berta spent some time in Chula Vista and then took the 7s professional route into Premier Rugby 7s.

“The players that have earned selection represent the competition within the squad,” Fukofuka. “The strength of the team is reflected by the players that have missed selection. I have been proud of the manner in which the players have competed for the jersey and pushed each other, but also at their openness to sharing their experience and knowledge to support their teammates to benefit the team. We want to make sure our performance is a reflection of the work we have put in and represents the style that we want to be known for; physical, dynamic, and confident to play with the ball.”

The USA is 4-1 against South Africa since 2009, and the teams last saw each other at the 2023 Nations Cup in Glendale, Colo. Both teams competed in the WXV Tier 2 but were in different pools. South Africa enters the match with a warmup fixture against Spain, and the Eagles are using the game as a warm-up for the Pacific Four Series. The USA will play Canada on Sunday, April 28 in Los Angeles. Buy your tickets now! [Use code “TRB” for a 10% discount.]

“Connection of the playing group off field, alignment of the squad on field and clear focus on performance have been the focuses of the past week,” Fukofuka closed. “We’re making sure we connect our set piece and attack, aligning our defensive principles to give the players confidence, and putting each other under pressure to perform has been a theme.”

USA Women XV v South Africa

Name Club Tournaments
1. Hope Rogers Exeter Chiefs 43
2. Kathryn Treder Loughborough Lightning 16
3. Keia Mae Sagapolu Leicester Tigers 6
4. Erica Jarrell Sale Sharks 5
5. Jenny Kronish Beantown 12
6. Kate Zackary (C) Ealing Trailfinders 35
7. Georgie Perris-Redding Sale Sharks 10
8. Rachel Johnson (VC) Exeter Chiefs 25
9. Olivia Ortiz Exeter Chiefs 16
10. McKenzie Hawkins Colorado Gray Wolves 12
11. Lotte Clapp Saracens 13
12. Gabby Cantorna E 24
13. Bulou Mataitoga Loughborough Lightning 13
14. Emily Henrich Unattached 12
15. Tess Feury (VC) Leicester Tigers 22
16. Paige Stathopoulos Beantown 4
17. Catie Benson Sale Sharks 40
18. Charli Jacoby Queensland Reds 24
19. Rachel Ehrecke Colorado Gray Wolves 10
20. Tahlia Brody Leicester Tigers 7
21. Cassidy Bargell Beantown 0
22. Katana Howard Sale Sharks 17
23. Amanda Berta PR7s Experts 0

USA WOMEN STAFF

Head Coach | Sione Fukofuka
Assistant Coach | Ray Barkwill
Strength & Conditioning | Sylvia Braaten
Team Manager | Sara Al-Aziz
Analyst | Caitlin Singletary
Media Manager | Calder Cahill

USA WOMEN 2024 SCHEDULE

USA v South Africa
Saturday, March 30 | 9:00 am ET
Trailfinders Sports Ground | Ealing, ENG
RugbyPass TV

2024 Pacific Four Series
USA v Canada
Sunday, April 28
DignityHealth Sports Park | Los Angeles, CA
Tickets [Use code “TRB” for 10% off]

USA v New Zealand
FMB Stadium | Hamilton, New Zealand

USA v Australia
AAMI PARK | Melbourne, Australia

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