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USA WNT Names Roster to Face Spain

  • 23 Mar 2023
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USA Rugby WNT

The USA Rugby Women’s National Team (WNT) has been training in Madrid in preparation for the first round of Pacific Four Series. On Saturday, March 25, the Eagles will run out against Spain in a warm-up match, the program’s first game since the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Saturday’s match also marks Richard Ashfield’s first as interim head coach.

RELATED: Ashfield Names Pacific Four Series Touring Squad

The majority of the lineup features players who are currently playing in the Allianz Premier 15s, which breaks for the Women’s Six Nations tournament. No. 8 Kate Zackary returns to the role of captain and brings 27 caps’ worth of experience to the pitch. [Aside: Remove Zackary, and the top-five cap-holders all played together at Penn State: Roger 41, Benson 32, Bizer 26, Cantorna 18, Waters 16.]

“It’s great to see all the players again as well as all the new faces and young talent coming up,” Zackary told USA Rugby. “I’m really impressed with everyone and their confidence. That’s what we need as USA Rugby players, to be confident in our abilities, showcase the talent we do have, and display consistency on the field.”

Three players will earn their first USA WNT caps on Saturday. Prop Mae Sagapolu is a senior at Central Washington Univ., played with the USA U23s over the summer, and has been a multi-year MA Sorensen nominee. Flanker Tahlia Brody has played in New York, Spain, New Zealand and now England with the Cheltenham Tigers (which has advanced to the Championship 1 semifinals), and also helped Berkeley to a 2022 WPL national title. And wing Summer Harris-Jones is a USA 7s resident who first graced UVA, NOVA, Life Univ. and ARPTC kit before relocating to Chula Vista.

Another five players have the potential to receive their first 15s cap. On the youngest end are USA age grade products and Dartmouth College teammates Kristin Bitter and Sophia Haley. That said, they probably have the most recent 15s field time among the reserves (out of Prem players). Autumn Czaplicki is less than a year out of West Chester Univ., but since graduation, the former Golden Ram played pro 7s with the Loggerheads, won a club 7s national championship with Scion, put on a USA U23s jersey and signed a contract as a USA 7s resident.

Megan Neyen also has USA age grade experience and last year marked a return to the WPL. Her presence on Beantown did not go unnoticed. And Jett Hayward has been on a few USA WNT tours, including the World Cup, and just awaiting that first call-up into the front row.

“This is the start of a new World Cup cycle and the aim is to build a strong foundation that can help to carry the program into the Rugby World Cup 2025 in England,” Ashfield told USA Rugby. “We have a great blend of young players and veterans to guide them.”

The game kicks off Saturday, March 25 at 12:30 p.m. local time, which is 7:30 a.m. ET / 4:30 a.m. PT. The match will be live streamed for free on https://ferugby.tv/. [You have to register for a free account and check your Spam folder if your verification e-mail doesn’t surface right away.]

USA Women’s Eagles | USA vs Spain

NAME CLUB CAPS
1. Hope Rogers Exeter (Eng) 41
2. Kathryn Treder DMP (Eng) 9
3. Keiamae Sagapolu* Central Washington Univ. 0
4. Jenny Kronish Harlequins (Eng) 8
5. Evelyn Ashenbrucker San Diego 7
6. Tahlia Brody* Cheltenham (Eng) 0
7. Georgie Perris-Redding Sale (Eng) 5
8. Kate Zackary (C) Exeter (Eng) 27
9. Olivia Ortiz DMP (Eng) 13
10. McKenzie Hawkins Colorado Gray Wolves 8
11. Bulou Mataitoga Loughborough (Eng) 8
12. Gabby Cantorna Exeter (Eng) 18
13. Eti Haungatau Sale (Eng) 8
14. Summer Harris-Jones* USA Sevens 0
15. Meya Bizer DMP (Eng) 26
16. Jett Hayward* Life West 0
17. Maya Learned Gloucester-Hartpury (Eng) 9
18. Catie Benson Sale (Eng) 32
19. Megan Neyen* Beantown 0
20. Sophia Haley* Dartmouth College 0
21. Carly Waters Sale (Eng) 16
22. Kristin Bitter* Dartmouth College 0
23. Autumn Czaplicki* USA Sevens 0

*Indicates uncapped player

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