Richie Walker Convenes USA Women’s Eagles Sevens Camp

October 7, 2016

Richie Walker Convenes USA Women’s Eagles Sevens Camp


Photo: Richie Walker

The first Women’s Eagles Sevens High Performance Camp will be held October 9-14 in the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California in preparation for the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series season.

Along with the full-time OTC residents, Eagles Head Coach Richie Walker has invited a few club and college athletes to train alongside his group. Jordan Gray, Molly Kinsella, and Hope Rogers, all contracted athletes will participate in open-play scrimmages during the Camp week to supplement Walker’s plans.At the Olympics in Rio, Team USA Women’s Rugby Sevens finished fifth. After a slow start against Fiji, the team played outstanding rugby. Australia needed to come back to earn a draw against the USA and that same day, they lost to New Zealand by five points. As a result, the USA hopes this translates into consistency and results in challenging the best teams in the world for titles regularly.Richie Walker said “I think the biggest lesson we learned during the tournament is that we can definitely play with the top teams when we want to play. When we have confidence and we have faith in each other, that will help our players get better and better and better.”

At camp are Olympians Lauren Doyle and Alev Kelter, who are full-time residents at the OTC. Cheta Emba, Nicole Heavirland, and Kristen Thomasalso are experienced players. Other residents include Megan Foster (Life West) and Nicole Strasko (Life University) who earned their debut XVs caps with the Women’s Eagles at the Women’s Rugby Super Series.

Capped XVs resident Samantha Pankey, who plays for the Scion Sirens, will attend camp. She will be joined by Sarah Buonopane, who plays for Old Blue 7s and Beantown.

Lilly Durbin is joined by her Penn State teammates Kayla Canett and capped Eagle and All-American Tess Feury. Alena Olsen from the University of Michigan is also an All-American.

Seattle Saracens Kelsi Stockert speed is an asset in both attack and defense. Nicole Snyder from Bloomsburg University earned her invite after excelling at a National All-Star Competition.

The 22 athletes in camp have a combined 60 caps on the Series, 14 are under the age of 26, and five under the age of 23. The trend toward younger players is in line with Walker’s goals. He said, “We want to get the younger women out to the OTC and into our environment now and continuously so they’ll have a shot come Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018, and definitely for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. If we start having them in now, getting them excited, then hopefully they’ll want to be down here. It’s an exciting, young group and I want them to push the athletes that we have down here, and I think they can do that.”

There are less than two months until the first stop of the World Rugby Women’s Rugby Series begins in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on December 1-2, 2016.  Walker is relying on evaluating camp attendees, as well as from obtaining recommendations from the National Development Academies and coaches as the athletes move through the pathway.

The Olympics have ended and the twelve teams will be infused with reutrning, as well as new athletes. New combinations will be tried and the continued participation in the other stops will be contingent upon their performance.

Pool information for the first round of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, has not been drawn. It should be done soon by World Rugby and will be announced then.

Updated USA Rugby residency lists for both men and women will also be announced this month.

Women’s Eagles Sevens High Performance Camp – Oct. 9-14
Sarah Buonopane, Kayla Canett, Ryan Carlyle, Elizabeth Cairns, Lauren Doyle, Lilly Durbin, Cheta Emba, Joanne Fa’avesi, Tess Feury, Megan Foster, Nicole Heavirland, Alev Kelter,  Bulou Mataitoga, Alena Olsen, Jane Paar, Samantha Pankey, Nicole Snyder, Kelsi Stockert,  Nicole Strasko, Naya Tapper, Kristen Thomas, Kate Zackary

Jordan Gray, Molly Kinsella, Hope Rogers

Women’s Eagles Sevens | 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series
Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens – Dec. 1-2
HSBC Sydney 7s – Feb. 3-4
Japan Women’s Sevens – April 22-23
HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens – May 27-28
HSBC Clermont-Ferrand Sevens – June 24-25
Note: It is intended that a sixth round will be added to the schedule in due course.

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant