USA Women’s Falcons Squad for Okinawa Rugby Sevens

February 17, 2017

USA Women’s Falcons Squad for Okinawa Rugby Sevens


Doug Coil

The USA Women’s Falcons begin the Okinawa Rugby Sevens in Japan later today. For a review of the tournament and the schedule, click here. USA Eagles Seven’s player and resident, Kate Zachary will captain the side. Andrew Locke will be the Falcons’ head coach.

The Okinawa Sevens is an international women’s rugby event that will be held at Zampa Ball Park near Torii Station in Nakagami, Okinawa on Feb. 18 and 19. The tournament will consist of six teams from Japan, Australia, France, Netherlands and the United States that will compete in round-robin style tournament, with the 5th, 3rd and championship matches held Feb. 19.

The players competing in this tournament represent their national teams or developmental teams. The tournament also exposes the women to more high performance opportunities as they continue the rugby sevens season and prepare for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2018 or the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

The Falcons squad will consist of five Women’s Eagles Sevens players that won the Silver medal at the HSBC Sydney Sevens earlier this month. Naya Tapper scored nine tries at Sydney, which tied her for fist place in scoring. She was also named the Player of the Final with her hat trick performance. Cheta Ember also is a physical force that commands attention. Ryan Carlyle and Nicole Heavirland also led the attack.

Eagles Sevens player Bulou Mataitoga was injured prior to going to Sydney and now returns to wear the Falcons jersey. She will be joined by uncapped athletes Megan Foster, Samantha Pankey, and Kelsi Stockert. Tia Blythe is new to international sevens, but played for the San Diego Surfers in the Women’s Premier League and was one of the leading try scorers at the 2016 USA Rugby Club Championships.

In this tournament, the USA has only played Australia and will be exposed to opponents that they haven’t played against this season. This competition will be beneficial ahead of the HSBC USA Rugby Sevens March 3-4.

USA Rugby  notes that the “tournament organizers have not distributed any broadcast plans for the invitational tournament, Yomitan Beach Boys Rugby Football Club – a combined services and community rugby club based in Okinawa – has said it will live stream the Falcons’ games on its Facebook page.”

USA Falcons – Okinawa Sevens
1. Lilly Durbin 2. Cheta Emba 3. Megan Foster 4. Nicole Heavirland 5. Tia Blythe 6. Sam Pankey 7. Ryan Carlyle 8. Kelsi Stockert 9. Nicole Strasko 10. Naya Tapper 11. Bulou Mataitoga 12. Kate Zackary (C)

USA Falcons – Okinawa Sevens
v. Japan A – Friday, Feb. 17 @ 7:30 p.m. ET
v. France – Friday, Feb. 17 @ 11 p.m. ET
v. Japan B – Saturday, Feb. 18 @ 2 a.m. ET
v. Netherlands – Saturday, Feb. 18 @ 7:30 p.m. ET
v. Australia – Saturday, Feb. 18 @ 9:30 p.m. ET

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant