USA Women’s Sevens 2019 Kitakyushu Sevens Squad

The second ranked USA Women’s Eagles Sevens team have named their team for the 2019 HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens that will take place on April 19-21 (ET). Matches are broadcast LIVE on At the end of the sixth stop on the circuit, the top four teams will qualify for the 2020 Olympics.

The USA finished with a bronze medal at the Sydney Sevens and hope to continue to be a podium team at each Series stop. At Sydney, Kristi Kirsche made her debut with five tries. Illona Maher debuted at the end of last season in Paris and since then has had 12 tries.

The team has veterans Naya Tapper, the all-time leading try scorer with 65 and Kris Thomas and Cheta Emba, who are also scoring threats.

Kayla Cannett returns to the team after competing in two World Series stops last year in Langford, where the USA won Bronze, and in Paris.

Alev Kelter, Jordan Gray, Meya Bizer, Nana Fa’avesi and Co-Captains Nicole Heavirland and Lauren Doyle complete the 12-player roster for Kitakyushu.

The USA is in Pool C and will face eighth-ranked England, tenth-ranked Fiji and sixth-ranked Ireland at Mikuni World Stadium.


On the highs and lows of reaching a second-place ranking…
“This season, we’ve put a huge focus on our understanding and awareness in rugby, culture and learning more about ourselves. One of the most important things we’ve experienced in competition is finding ways to get a result even if the circumstances look ugly. Embracing the pressure of our own expectations is one of the hardest things for us and we need to avoid limiting ourselves as we build into Kitakyushu. If we commit to the principles we’ve embedded in the past several months, and enjoy the process, I have no doubt we’ll be satisfied with the outcome.”

On the depth built this season
“We’ve had a number of players step up this season which is what all coaches hope for, especially 18 months out from the Olympics. It’s important we don’t get ahead of ourselves, however, and remember that with less experience there will be tough games and sometimes even tougher tournaments as our newer players learn all that comes with international competition. We hope that 18 months will be enough to develop the right habits and create significant awareness of attributes our athletes can use as we build towards Tokyo 2020. But first, we need to qualify.”


*All players are part of the Women’s Eagles Sevens residency program

Player Position HSBC Tournaments to date
Alev Kelter Flyhalf 26
Cheta Emba Prop/Wing 11
Ilona Maher Center/Prop 4
Jordan Matyas Prop 8
Kayla Canett Scrum Half/ Fly Half 4
Kris Thomas Wing/Hooker 19
Kristi Kirshe Center/Prop 1
Lauren Doyle (C) Flyhalf/Center 22
Meya Bizer Prop/Hooker 3
Nana Fa’avesi Scrumhalf 16
Naya Tapper Wing/Prop 14
Nicole Heavirland (C) Hooker 16


Head Coach | Chris Brown
Head of Physical Performance | Matt Long
Athletic Trainer | Nicole Titmas
Team Manager | Liz Strohecker


Pool C | Broadcast LIVE on World Rugby Sevens Facebook

vs England | April 19 – 9:52 PM ET
vs Fiji | April 20 – 12:36 AM ET
vs Ireland | April 20 – 3:20 AM ET

Knockout rounds begin as early as 9:30 PM ET on April 20.

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant