Ilona Maher in Dubai / Photo: Mike Lee / KLC fotos for World Rugby
USA RUGBY – Olympians return as Head Coach Emilie Bydwell names her side for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series stops in Malaga and Seville, Spain, taking place Jan 21-23 and Jan 28-30. Matches will be broadcast on NBC’s streaming platform Peacock with score updates on USA Rugby’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels.
- Sarah Levy and Olympian Kayla Canett return for the first time since the Edmonton Fast Four event after competing with the Women’s Eagles in XVs for their Autumn Internationals; Levy will earn her first official World Series cap
- Olympians Lauren Doyle, Nicole Heavirland and Kristi Kirshe all return to international sevens competition for the first time since the Tokyo Games.
- Lauren Doyle and Alena Olsen lead as Captain and Vice Captain, respectively.
Last Tournament | Dubai, December 2021
The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series held back-to-back tournaments in Dubai in December of last year (2021) marking the opening rounds of the new season. Coach Bydwell and the USA Women finished eighth in the first weekend and fifth in the second, putting them at fifth place overall with four rounds to go in 2022.
Ilona Maher led the team in numerous statistical categories following the second weekend of action including points, tries, runs and tackles; while she, Alev Kelter, Jazamine Gray and Naya Tapper were tied in clean breaks. Compared to other teams, the USA Women rank seventh in points scored and fifth in tackles, showing defensive improvement that will build as the season goes on.
The USA Women’s Sevens are drawn in Pool B with rivals Canada, Poland and Olympic bronze medalists Fiji. Canada are ranked 10th on the circuit after finishing 8th at both events in Dubai. Poland will play in their first World Series event this season, replacing New Zealand who cannot compete due to the travel impacts of COVID-19. Fiji have continued their hot streak from Tokyo by winning back-to-back silver medals in Dubai, holding the No. 2 position on the circuit and proving as a top team in the game.
Head Coach Emilie Bydwell said:
“With only 6 World Series events this season, the next two tournaments will comprise the middle third of our season and will be important opportunities for us to define the next chapter for our team and take the necessary steps forward to build our platform for the 2022 Rugby World Cup.
“We will be focusing heavily on our ability to create line breaks, use momentum and field possession to inform decisions and improve our speed of support. Defensively, we will be looking to sure up our tackle completion, improve the integrity of our defensive shape and the speed at which we reconnect on transition play.”
USA Women’s Sevens Roster
Malaga & Seville World Series 2022Player – Position (# HSBC Tournaments)
1. Cheta Emba – Prop/Hooker (17)
2. Ilona Maher – Center/Prop (14)
3. Kayla Canett – Flyhalf (10)
4. Nicole Heavirland – Scrumhalf (23)
5. Lauren Doyle (C) – Flyhalf/Center (30)
6. Alena Olsen (VC) – Scrumhalf (5)
7. Naya Tapper – Prop/Wing (23)
8. Jazamine Gray – Wing (2)
9. Alex Spiff Sedrick – Hooker/Flyhalf (2)
10. Maya Hingano – Prop/Hooker (0)
11. Kristen Thomas – Hooker/Prop (28)
12. Kristi Kirshe – Center/Wing (8)
13. Sarah Levy – Hooker (0)
USA Women’s Sevens Traveling Staff
Head Coach | Emilie Bydwell
Assistant Coach | Zack Test
Athletic Trainer | Nicole Titmas
Strength & Conditioning | Trey Ford
Sports Psychologist | Peter Haberl
USA Women’s Sevens Schedule
Friday, January 21
USA vs Canada | 3:44 AM ET
USA vs Poland | 9:12 AM ET
Saturday, January 22
USA vs Fiji | 4:06 AM ET
Placement rounds begin as early as 8:53 AM ET.