USA Women’s Sevens Squad Selected For Sydney Sevens

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January 23, 2017

USA Women’s Sevens Squad Selected For Sydney Sevens

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Doug Coil

The second leg of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, the HSBC Sydney Sevens will be held on February 3-4, 2017. Australia, the reigning gold medalists and series 2016 champions, top Pool B with Brazil, Ireland and Fiji also in the Pool. In Pool A, New Zealand Black Ferns are joined by Canada, France and Papua New Guinea, while in Pool C are Russia, England, Spain and the USA.

The Sydney Sevens include a 12 team women’s tournament and a 16 team men’s tournament. The women will lead the event on Friday, while sharing the stage on Saturday with the Men’s Sevens Series. For the women, it represents the second leg of six of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s  Sevens Series. For the men, it will be the 4th leg of the Series after the Wellington Sevens next weekend.

HSBC World Women’s Sevens Series:  Sydney Sevens Pools & Schedule

Pools: Friday, Feb 3rd

  • A – New Zealand, Canada, France, Papua New Guinea
  • B – Australia, Fiji, Ireland, Brazil
  • C – Russia, England, Spain, USA

USA Women’s Eagles Sevens

Richie Walker has selected the Women’s Eagles Sevens for the HSBC Sydney Sevens, the second round of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.

Four of the twelve athletes are Olympians from the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games. Kelly Griffin was the captain at the Olympics and has since left residency at Chula Vista, California. She now is the head women’s coach of the Santa Barbara Rugby Academy. Griffin also has aspirations of being selected for the Eagles XV team for the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland in August. With this in mind, she recently attended the Women’s Eagles National All-Star Competition in Florida. Griffin is also the most-capped Eagle on the Series with 18 tournament appearances.

Richie Walker, in a USA Rugby article by Chad Wise said that “Even though she’s no longer a resident, she came into camp in good shape and had the right attitude to get the job done. She works hard remotely, which is tough, but just proves hard work does pay off.”

The other Olympians include Ryan Carlyle, who scored her first international sevens try in Rio last summer and in the first Series in Dubai in December, added two more. Alev Kelter, is not only a physical force on the pitch, she also was seventh in points scored at Rio 2016 and 12th in last year’s Sevens Series. Joanne Fa’avesi was also an Olympian at Rio and is in her eighth tournament with the team.

The squad also has Olympic reserves in Nicole Heavirland and Naya Tapper. They and Kate Zackary were also part of the Dubai team.

Kristen Thomas has been a scoring threat for the Women’s Eagles Sevens team and is healthy now after suffering an injury in the final leg of the 2015-16 season.

The USA Women’s Eagles Sevens program is trying to infuse younger talent into the team as it strives to contend for a medal at the next Olympics. With this in mind, five debutantes were named to the Dubai team, with three of them, Kayla Canett, Cheta Emba, and Bulou Mataitoga earning spots for the Sydney Sevens. Emba and Mataitoga scored their first tries at Dubai, while Cannett had one held up in the try zone.

Beantown Rugby’s and Northeast Academy’s Sarah Buonopane is set to debut on the Series for the U.S. She represented Old Blue at the 2016 USA Rugby Club 7s National Championships and was also an AIG Women’s Collegiate All-American in the summer.

The USA finished in 11th-place at Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens to start the season. They hope to improve on that performance, but first need to perform well in Pool C competing against Russia,  England and Spain.

With the time difference, the Eagles kick off against Russia on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 8:52 p.m. ET. England then follows at 11:12pm ET and pool plays ends on Friday, Feb. 3rd at 1:54am ET against Spain. The matches will be broadcast live via The Rugby Channel.

Women’s Eagles Sevens – HSBC Sydney7s
1. Cheta Emba 2. Kristen Thomas 3. Kelly Griffin 4. Ryan Carlyle 5. Nicole Heavirland 6. Alev Kelter 7. Naya Tapper 8. Kate Zackary 9. Joanne Fa’avesi 10. Kayla Canett 11. Hope Rogers Bulou Mataitoga 12. Sarah Buonopane

Non-Traveling Reserves – Lilly Durbin, Hope Rogers

Women’s Eagles Sevens – HSBC Sydney7s
v. Russia – Thursday, Feb. 2 @ 8:52 p.m. ET
v. England – Thursday, Feb. 2 @ 11:12 p.m. ET
v. Spain – Friday, Feb. 3 @ 1:54 a.m. ET

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant