March 31, 2016
USA Women’s Eagles Sevens Squad For HSBC Atlanta Sevens
Photo: World Rugby – Jillian Potter
Richie Walker, the new Women’s Eagles Sevens Head Coach, has selected the squad for the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, HSBC Atlanta Sevens.
The team enters this leg of the Series in eight place and hopes that the home crowd will spur the team on to move up the standings. The Series will be held at Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University on April 8-9.
Jillion Potter will take the pitch as captain of the team in Walker’s debut as head coach. In discussing the team he said that “we have some real good experience. We have some good speed and we have some good power. To have Jillion Potter as the team captain is massive for the younger kids. They respect her tremendously.”
Meya Bizer and Nicole Heavirland make their debut at the Series. They have played together at the 2013 U20 Nations Cup together with the AIG Women’s Junior All-Americans. Both have been capped for the Women’s Eagles XVs. Heavirland was capped in last summer’s Women’s Rugby Super Series, while Bizer has been capped eight itimes, including five at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014.
Both Lauren Doyle and Richelle Stephens return to the team after missing the Brazil Women’s Sevens due to injuries. Richelle Stephens and Kate Zachary were part of Falcons team at both the Las Vegas Invitational and the Vancouver Rugby Festival. Lauren Doyle, Jessica Javelet, and Kristen Thomas also played for the Falcons.
At the Olympic Training Center the team had several scrimmages. This helped him to assess the team and aided in the selection process.
Walker also added that “Meya and Nicole really showed their worth in those scrimmages. Meya’s powerful, she knows rugby, and she has a good rugby brain. Nicole stepped up and proved herself. She’s a strong runner and very aggressive. That’s the look we have in this team – aggressive and a lot of speed.”
Lauren Doyle adds experience to the team and is second all-time in Series appearances for the U.S. with 15. Ryan Carlyle also is a seasoned player.
Jessica Javelet made her first appearance in Atlanta in 2014 and has scored 45 points at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. Kristin Thomas leads the Eagles this season with nine tries.
Alev Kelter and Bui Baravilalahad a physical presence to the team along with Jillion Potter. Megan Bonny adds additional speed.
A disappointing opening round to the year saw the Eagles haul two points from Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, and an 11-week layoff allowed the athletes at the OTC to regroup for a fourth-place campaign in São Paulo. Though the Eagles will not have to worry about Olympic qualification as they did towards the latter stages of last season, only a maximum 18 matches are on offer for the remainder of the Series before the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games begin in August.
“I still have a patient outlook,” Walker said of the run-up to the first Olympic Games to include Rugby Sevens. “For me, it isn’t about the hard work right now. Believe me, when we come back from Langford, that’s when we’re going to switch on to just all hard work. If I do my job and I do it right with the time we have, we should be able to prepare well enough for the Olympics.
“Every single day, every single minute matters.”
In five of the previous eight rounds on the Series – dating back to the beginning of the 2014-15 season – the U.S. has been in a pool with New Zealand, and the trend continues in Atlanta next weekend. Pool C also fields Japan and Spain, with the latter yet to secure a place at the Games of the XXXI Olympiad.
Atlanta Sevens tickets are still available for as low as $10 per day, with tournament kickoff scheduled for Friday, April 8, in Kennesaw, Ga. Tournament broadcast details will be announced next week.
Women’s Eagles Sevens | HSBC Atlanta Sevens
1. Jillion Potter (C) 2. Megan Bonny 3. Kate Zackary 4. Amelia Bizer 5. Ryan Carlyle 6. Nicole Heavirland 7. Alev Kelter 8. Bui Baravilala 9. Lauren Doyle 10. Richelle Stephens 11. Kristen Thomas 12. Jessica Javelet
Women’s Eagles Sevens | Non-travelling reserves
Emily Azevedo, Carmen Farmer, Victoria Folayan, Christy Ringgenberg
Women’s Eagles Sevens | HSBC Atlanta Sevens
v. Spain – Friday, April 8 @ 2:20 p.m. ET
v. Japan – Friday, April 8 @ 5:04 p.m. ET
v. New Zealand – Friday, April 8 @ 7:26 p.m. ET