USA Rugby Women’s Sevens Squad for Dubai Sevens

USA Rugby Release

For the first time since the pandemic, the women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will return with an expanded slate of (7) tournaments through 2022. Matches will be broadcast LIVE on NBC’s family of networks with the exact location to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Led by Emilie Bydwell, the USA Women’s 7s National Team features a squad with returning Olympians and six youngsters as the program begin its march toward Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 in Cape Town.

Roster Highlights

  • Six players who also competed in Edmonton and Vancouver will officially earn their first cap in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series
  • Alena Olsen is named Vice-Captain alongside Captain Abby Gustaitis
  • Ilona Maher, Alev Kelter, and Joanne Fa’avesi join the group after competing with USA Women’s XVs for their Autumn Internationals
  • Maher and Kelter join Cheta Emba, Abby Gustaitis, Naya Tapper, and Kris Thomas in their first international sevens tournaments since the Tokyo Olympics
  • Emilie Bydwell will lead the group in Dubai while the search for the next Head Coach reaches its final stages
  • Retired 2016 Olympian Zack Test will travel with the group as Assistant Coach after supporting the residency program as a Coach for the past few months

Director of Women’s High-Performance Emilie Bydwell said:

“This tournament will present an opportunity for new faces to show what they can do on the World stage, and for our experienced players to take the lead and set the tone for the next chapter in the team’s journey.

“The learnings from the Olympics have informed the foundational work that has been done over this initial preparation period and these tournaments will give us a valuable measuring stick to inform our World Cup campaign plan.

“As a group we will define ourselves through our support, intent and connection; celebrating the moments where we feel we threaten as a unit both on attack and defense.

“It’s been a pleasure to have Zack Test join us over this period, he has been integral in the early development of our tool box and in exploring how micro details can have significant impact on the opportunities we see in the game.”

Fast Four Recaps | Vancouver, Edmonton

Following the Tokyo Olympics, the USA Women took a group of new players to Fast Four tournaments in Edmonton and Vancouver, held alongside the senior men’s World Series. The United States were runners-up in both events, losing only to Great Britain, after boasting strong performances across both weekends where new talent shined. Jaz Gray, Summer Jones and Salote Tausinga had breakout moments throughout both events, underpinned by strong displays of support play and physicality within the group.

Overall, the U.S. played well against Mexico, winning all its encounters with high margins while proving resilient to beat Canada in several tight contests and draw once.

Vancouver and Edmonton proved to be strong platforms for new players to get a taste of the World Series environment with the likes of Mexico, Canada and Great Britain.

2022 Season Preview 

Dubai marks the opening round of the 2022 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series which, for the first time since the pandemic, has returned for a full slate of events. This year features 10 men’s and 7 women’s tournaments — an increase from 6 women’s stops in 2019. All events culminate in the quadrennial Rugby World Cup Sevens taking place in Cape Town next September.

While the recent Tokyo Olympics gave teams a platform to perform at the highest possible level, the upcoming World Cup delivers a similar landscape for new talent; almost as a bridge between the World Series and Olympic Games.

Because rugby sevens has a uniquely unforgiving nature, using the World Cup as a stepping stone allows young players to be challenged in different ways; also forcing experienced seniors to evolve as leaders across varying degrees of pressure.

USA Women’s Sevens Roster

1. Cheta Emba Prop 16
2. Ilona Maher Center/Prop 12
3. Abby Gustaitis (Captain) Prop/Hooker 13
4. Salote Tausinga Prop/Center Debut
5. Alev Kelter Center/Prop 33
6. Alena Olsen (Vice-Captain) Scrumhalf/Flyhalf 3
7. Naya Tapper Wing 21
8. Jazmine Gray Wing Debut
9. Alex Sedrick Prop/Center Debut
10. Sui A’au Prop/Center Debut
11. Kris Thomas Hooker/Center 26
12. Summer Harris Jones Prop/Hooker Debut
13. Joanne “Nana” Fa’avesi Hooker/Scrumhalf 18
14. Rachel Strasdas Hooker Debut

USA Women’s Sevens Staff

Head Coach / Director of Women’s High Performance | Emilie Bydwell
Assistant Coach | Zack Test
Athletic Trainer | Nicole Titmas
Strength & Conditioning | Trey Ford

USA Women’s Sevens Schedule 

Friday, November 26
vs Australia  | 11:48 AM ET
vs France | 6:46 AM ET

Saturday, November 27
vs Spain | 12:00 AM ET
vs Brazil | 3:00 AM ET

*Placement matches begin as early as 6:51 AM ET on Saturday. 

About Author

North American Rugby News With A USA Slant