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USA to Play South Africa in England

  • 12 Mar 2024
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USA Rugby

The USA Women’s National Team has added an international assembly and fixture to its calendar. Thirty Eagle pool players and the new USA coaching staff will travel to the U.K. for a prep camp and then play South Africa on March 30 at Trailfinders Sports Ground in Ealing, England. Game kicks off at 9 a.m. ET and will air on RugbyPass TV. [Lead photo c/o USA Rugby]

The squad features three uncapped players — Cassidy Bargell, Amanda Berta and Kelsie O’Brien — all of whom featured at the talent ID and assessment camp in North Carolina last month.

“The Talent ID and Assessment camp in Charlotte did exactly what it was intended to do,” said new USA WNT Head Coach Sione Fukofuka. “It provided a new coaching staff the opportunity to work with the US-based players and get a firsthand view of the talent in the extended squad. There have clearly been some players that took this opportunity and have been selected to potentially make their debuts, or have returned to the team after time away.”

Neariah Weathers and Nikki Kenyon fall into that “return from hiatus” group. They’ve been active on the PR 7s pro circuit and re-emerged on the 15s scene in Charlotte. All told, 12 tour-goers are based in the U.S., and most play their regular season ball in the Women’s Premier League. Beantown and Colorado Gray Wolves lead selections. USA prop Alivia Leatherman — a candidate for the 2023-24 MA Sorensen Award — is the lone collegian in the group.

Sixteen of the 30 pool players are already based in England, competing in the Premier Women’s Rugby (PWR) competition as contracted players. Emily Henrich makes 17, having recently signed with Leicester Tigers, and is awaiting her Visa before relocating overseas. Charli Jacoby, a former Exeter player, is also joining from Australia, where she now represents the Queensland Reds.

The PWR enjoys a bit of a break during the Women’s Six Nations, making a U.K.-based camp and test match both possible and convenient. The Trailfinders’ Kate Zackary will captain the USA against South Africa and will do so in front of a hometown crowd in Ealing.

“As a test match opponent we respect South Africa and their ability, but our focus is on us and establishing the core systems and patterns that we as a team will look to build on into 2024,” Fukofuka said. “We want to play a USA brand of rugby that highlights the strengths of the team through their physicality and enjoyment of the collision, and adds layers to that by using the ball, being skillful and making good decisions across the field. Combinations and our ability to connect and align across the UK camp will be a focus, however first and foremost we want to establish a strong foundation by emphasizing our core skills and work rate.”

After the South Africa match, the USA will ready for the first of three Pacific Four tests. On Sunday, April 28, the Eagles will host Canada at Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles. Tickets are available now at usa.rugby/tickets. The series then relocates to the southern hemisphere for tests against New Zealand (May 11) and Australia (May 17).

USA WOMEN EAGLES TRAVEL ROSTER

NAME TEAM CAPS
Amanda Berta PR7s Experts 0
Kristin Bitter Life West 3
Tahlia Brody Leicester Tigers (Eng) 7
Cassidy Bargell Beantown 0
Catie Benson Sale Sharks (Eng) 40
Gabby Cantorna Exeter Chiefs (Eng) 24
Lotte Clapp Saracens (Eng) 13
Rachel Ehrecke Colorado Gray Wolves 10
Tess Feury Leicester Tigers (Eng) 22
McKenzie Hawkins Colorado Gray Wolves 12
Emily Henrich Leicester Tigers (Eng) 12
Katana Howard Sale Sharks (Eng) 17
Charli Jacoby Queensland Reds (Aus) 24
Erica Jarrell Sale Sharks (Eng) 5
Rachel Johnson Exeter Chiefs (Eng) 25
Nikki Kenyon PR7s Experts, WAC 2
Jenny Kronish Beantown 12
Alivia Leatherman Notre Dame College 1
Bulou Mataitoga Loughborough Lightning (Eng) 13
Megan Neyen Beantown 2
Kelsie O’Brien Colorado Gray Wolves 0
Olivia Ortiz Exeter Chiefs (Eng) 16
Georgie Perris-Redding Sale Sharks (Eng) 10
Hope Rogers Exeter Chiefs (Eng) 43
Keia Mae Sagapolu Leicester Tigers (Eng) 6
Paige Stathopoulos Beantown 4
Hallie Taufoou Loughborough Lightning (Eng) 14
Kathryn Treder Loughborough Lightning (Eng) 16
Neariah Weathers PR7s NY Locals 1
Kate Zackary Ealing Trailfinders (Eng) 35

USA Women’s Eagles Staff | USA v South Africa

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

USA Women’s Eagles 2024 Schedule

USA v South Africa
Saturday, March 30
Trailfinders Sports Ground | Ealing, ENG
Streaming TBD

2024 Pacific Four Series
USA v Canada
Sunday, April 28
DignityHealth Sports Park | Los Angeles, CA

USA v New Zealand
May 11
FMG Stadium | Hamilton, New Zealand

USA v Australia
May 17
AAMI PARK | Melbourne, Australia

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