USA Rugby Women’s Eagles vs. New Zealand Black Ferns
The USA Rugby Weekend will consist of three matches with the USA Women’s Eagles kicking off the competition at Soldier Field at Noon CDT on November 3 (4 November, 6 am NZT) against the top-ranked New Zealand Black Ferns. Following that match, Ireland will play Italy at 3 pm and the USA Men’s Eagles will face the Maori All Blacks at 6 pm.
USA Rugby Women’s Eagles
New Head Coach Rob Cain has named his squad for the U.S. Women’s National Team’s match against first-ranked New Zealand to kick off The Rugby Weekend this Saturday (Nov. 3) at Soldier Field.
This is Cain’s first test match as Head Coach of the Women’s Eagles and the USA will have up to 13 players making their debut with six of them starting.
The match-day roster has many All-American athletes with eight players attending the Collegiate All-American training camp and U20 Women’s Tri-Nations Cup. The selection of new players represent the program’s emphasis on age-grade development to build depth in the lead-up to Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021.
The Women Eagles do include experienced athletes with 8 of the named 23 players helping the United States to a fourth-place finish at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017. Two players have also been part of the Women’s Sevens residency program and return to the international stage.
“Really excited about this squad, lots of fresh energy,” said Head Coach Rob Cain. “It was a little overwhelming for some in the first couple of days but the players have embedded in really well and are enjoying the full experience. I can’t wait to watch them express themselves on the international stage for the first time.”
Emily Henrich, who is 18-years-old and a student at Dartmouth College, is the youngest player who will earn her first cap this weekend. She won Player of the Match honors against Canada at the U20 Tri-Nations Cup.
“Henrich is joined by 2018 Collegiate All-American camp attendees Azniv Nalbandian, Carly Waters, Gabriella Cantorna and Kaitlyn Broughton, along with Oregon Sports Rugby’s Rachel Johnson, as new caps on the starting XV.
Joyce Taufa and Finau Tamaivena, other 2018 Collegiate All-American camp attendees, will look to earn their first caps as reserves. “Tamaivena also competed at the U20 Women’s Tri-Nations Cup with fellow reserve and new cap McKenzie Hawkins.”
Kelsi Stockert and Meya Bizer will return to rugby 15s after spending time in the Women’s Sevens Residency Program. Stockert last played with the Women’s Eagles in November of 2016, while Bizer last played during Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014.
The team will be captained by 2018 Women’s Premier League Champion Kate Zackary and includes other returning Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 athletes. Women’s Sevens Jordan Gray won a silver medal at the HSBC USA Women’s Sevens 2018 in Glendale.
Zackary and Gray are joined by Catherine Benson, Katy Augustyn, Stacey Bridges, Alycia Washington and Kimber Rozier as representatives of the World Cup 2017 team. Nick James was also a World Cup 2017 athlete and is available as a reserve.
The USA comes into the match as the world’s fifth-ranked team and will face first-ranked New Zealand Black Ferns at 12 PM CDT on Saturday, November 3 at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
“The Black Ferns are very talented rugby players with a lot of experience at the test level,” said Head Coach Cain. “We’ve had to get through a lot of work this week and our players embrace that challenge. We’re can’t wait to see all our hard work come to light over the weekend.”
Following Saturday’s match, the Women’s Eagles will continue their November Internationals in Europe with test matches against second-ranked England and eighth-ranked Ireland. The Women’s Selects will also face England “A” as part of the full November tour.
New Zealand Black Ferns
Black Ferns Head Coach Glenn Moore has named the squad to face the Women’s Eagles.
Nineteen-year-old Wellington speedster Ayesha Leti-I’iga will be the left wing. She was crowned Wellington’s women’s club player of the year. She scored 41 tries in just 13 matches this year, including a hat-trick on nine occasions. Leti-I’iga will be joined on the right wing by the experienced Renee Wickliffe.
Another fast Wellingtonian, 20-year-old Monica Tagoai will debut off the bench and can play wing or center. Waikato’s Chelsea Alley, who has been a Black Fern since 2013, will start at 12. She had an impressive Farah Palmer Cup season and finished among the top goal kickers.
Squads (Test caps in brackets. *New cap)
USA Women’s Eagles: 1. Catherine Benson (14) 2. Katy Augustyn (31) 3. Azniv Nalbandian* 4. Stacey Bridges (33) 5. Alycia Washington (14) 6. Rachel Johnson* 7. Kate Zackary (6) 8. Jordan Gray (15) 9. Carly Waters* 10. Gabriella Cantorna* 11. Kaitlyn Broughton* 12. Kimber Rozier (28) 13. Emily Henrich* 14. Kelsi Stockert (5) 15. Amelia Bizer (16) 16. Joyce Taufa* 17. Nick James (3) 18. Megan Rom* 19. Finau Tamaivena* 20. McKenna Strong* 21. Nikki Kenyon* 22. McKenzie Hawkins* 23. Evan Hoese *
U.S. Women’s National Team Staff
Head Coach | Rob Cain
Assistant Coach | Richard Ashfield
Assistant Coach | Kate Daley
Assistant Coach | Jamie Burke
Head of Physical Performance | Ian Jones
Head Performance Analyst | David Gardner
Assistant Performance Analyst | Craig Wilson (Chicago)
Head Athletic Trainer | Bri Sparks
Assistant Athletic Trainer | Katherine Henry
Technical Halfbacks Coach & Team Manager | Jenny Lui (Chicago)
U.S. Women’s National Team Schedule | November Internationals 2018
The Rugby Weekend
vs New Zealand
Sat, Nov. 3 | 12 PM CT
Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
Fri, Nov. 9 | 2:45 PM ET
Allianz Park, London, England
Sun, Nov. 18 | Time TBC
Energia Park, Dublin, Ireland