The USA Women’s Rugby Sevens Team ended its Olympic medal hopes after a 21-12 loss to Great Britain in the Quarterfinals.
The USA women have represented their country well and move to the 5th place semifinals in a rematch against China at 10:30 AM Japan Time (9:30 PM ET) on NBCOlympics.com. The other 5th place semifinal has ROC (Russia) facing Australia.
Great Britain will face France in the semifinals of the medal round. The other medal semifinal features New Zealand against Fiji.
The USA Women’s Rugby Sevens Team and Great Britain played each other in the Quest for Gold tournament in Los Angeles in June.
The USA, which is a physical team, won Pool C, with wins against China, Japan, and the defending Gold Medalist, Australia.
Team GB, which consists predominately of players from England, as well a Welsh try-scorer jasmine Joyce and Scotland’s Hannah Smith, formed six months ago after the disbanding of individual sevens teams from England, Scotland, and Wales.
Momentum and confidence are transitional. The USA entered the match confident after three wins, while Team GB beat ROC (Russia), led 21-0 against New Zealand, before a narrow loss, and beating Kenya.
The USA kicked to began the match, and were quickly penalized at the breakdown. A break by Megan Jones and an offload to Jasmine Joyce was all that was needed for Joyce to score under the posts 38 seconds into the match. Holly Aitchison then converted to lead 7-0.
The restart went to the USA, but after touches by Lauren Doyle and Naya Tapper, the latter was penalized 5-meters from their own goal. Great Britain punished the penalty with a try by Abbie Brown under the posts, with Aitchison adding the extras, 14-0. The score would hold up at the break.
During the first half, Team GB used tenacious defense at the breakdown, kept possession, and pinned the USA inside their own 22-meters.
Early in the second half, the USA still could not get an attack going due to Team GB’s defense. A breakdown penalty for not releasing, had Megan Jones quickly tapping and Jasmine Joyce finishing with a brace, and Aitchison converting 21-0.
The restart was gathered by Alev Kelter and a Great Britain penalty had the team gaining territory. Another penalty led to an apparent Cheta Emba try, however, the referee indicated that the tap was not taken through the mark. This has been consistently applied by all the referees during the matches. The tap was taken again with Kristi Kirshe grounding a try near the right corner, 5-21. as the conversion attempt by Heavirland was wide.
The USA’s Naya Tapper would score with no time on the clock with Nicole Heavirland adding the extras. It was too late for a win, as Team GB won 21-12 and advanced to the medal semifinals against France.
The USA will face China, who they beat 28-14 in the opening match of pool play. China lost in the quarterfinals against France 24-10.
USA Rugby Comments
Co-Captain Abby Gustaitis
On the loss to Great Britain…
“Absolutely devastating. It’s a sport, right? It brings you the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Unfortunately, we’re on that low end of it today, and credit to Great Britain where it’s due. They came out swinging, they didn’t miss a beat and we made a few errors. We just weren’t able to clear way back, not for lack of effort or belief in the girls.”
On the outcome of this campaign…
“I think we showed America how incredible of a sport rugby sevens is. And we were growing the following there and I just hope little girls and boys around the country go pick up a rugby ball now because they’ve seen us women play out there.”
“I know that will fuel a lot of girls to get out there, itching to pull on that red, white, and blue and I’m here for it. I can’t wait to see the next generation of USA rugby women.”
Squads + QF & Pool Recaps vs Australia; China & Japan
USA: 1 Cheta Emba 2 Ilona Maher 3 Abby Gustaitis (co-captain) 4 Nicole Heavirland 5 Alev Kelter 6 Lauren Doyle 7 Naya Tapper 8 Jordan Matyas 9 Ariana Ramsey 10 Kayla Canett-Oca 11 Kristen Thomas (co-captain) 12 Kristi Kirshe 13 Nia Toliver (13th player), Kasey McCravey (traveling reserve), Nana Fa’avesi (traveling reserve)
Great Britain: 1 Jasmine Joyce 2 Abbie Brown (co-captain) 3 Abi Burton 4 Natasha Hunt 5 Hannah Smith 6 Deborah Fleming 7 Emma Uren 8 Celia Quansah 9 Alex Matthews 10 Megan Jones (co-captain) 11 Holly Aitchison 12 Helena Rowland, 13 Lisa Thomson