USA Women’s Sevens claim Gold in Malaga

USA Rugby Release

The USA Women’s 7s National Team are Gold Medal Champions in Malaga, the third stop in the 2021-22 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Finishing their last tournament in seventh place, the USA women are showing constant evolution on the world stage, now ranked fourth overall with two events to go.

Head Coach Emilie Bydwell said:

“We’re just really proud of the players. We’re in a growth period and we’re looking forward to the Rugby World Cup and the Paris Olympics. The work they did over the block to get ready for this competition and then the way they’re implementing and fighting for each other has been terrific throughout the weekend.

“We knew that this was a third of our season – these two Spain tournaments – so we’re pretty focused on growing and building towards the next one and excited to see them continue to build on this chemistry.”

Undefeated in every game contested, defeating rivals Canada, Poland, Great Britain, France, and Russia for their first gold medal since Glendale Sevens in 2019. It was a proud and well-deserved victory as audiences could see each player owning their distinct role and how those roles were a key piece in driving the group forward.

Ilona Maher was named Player of the Final, making clutch passes to set up her teammates while scoring her tries in critical moments. Every member of Bydwell’s squad from 1 to 13 delivered when it mattered.

From the way Kristi Kirshe drew in defenders to create space, to the footwork and physicality of Cheta Emba, all the way to the many times Jaz Gray lit up the field to outpace those around her – something can be said for everyone.

On the record books, Naya Tapper overtook Alev Kelter to become the USA Women’s all-time leading try-scorer, now just two shy of 100 tries in the World Series.

Sarah Levy has much to celebrate as well, having won a gold medal in her first official Series event after evolving as a player through both the senior XVs and 7s programs.

Match Recap

In Pool B, the USA held Canada (22-7) and Poland (31-7) to only one try each while their final match was a draw as the Fijians could not travel due to COVID-19.

Great Britain started off toe and toe until the USA hit a stride in the second half. Ilona Maher made a beautiful fend-in route to score, then Kris Thomas immediately added another from the restart to increase the lead and win momentum for good. A continuous display of athleticism kept the U.S. on top in a tight affair between Olympic rivals.

The semi-finals against France were even tighter with the Eagles Sevens holding onto a tight 2-point lead until Kris Thomas scored at halftime. The USA managed to hold off the French until the 10th minute when an unconverted try cut the deficit but was ultimately not enough to create momentum for a French comeback.

In the Final, Russia showed a few heroic moments at the start but the United States put their best feet forward with calm, cool, and collected performances that showed patience through phase play, intelligent and thoughtful decision making while doing the simple things right to put players in position to score.

The USA Women will now travel to Seville for the next round of the season, taking place Jan 28-30 with matches streamed LIVE on Peacock.

USA Women’s Sevens Roster | Malaga & Seville World Series 2022

1. Cheta Emba Prop/Hooker 18
2. Ilona Maher Center/Prop 15
3. Kayla Canett Flyhalf 11
4. Nicole Heavirland Scrumhalf 24
5. Lauren Doyle (C) Flyhalf/Center 31
6. Alena Olsen (VC) Scrumhalf 6
7. Naya Tapper Prop/Wing 24
8. Jazmine Gray Wing 3
9. Alex Spiff Sedrick Hooker/Fly Half 3
10. Mata Hingano Prop/Hooker 3
11. Kristen Thomas Hooker/Prop 29
12. Kristi Kirshe Center/Wing 9
13. Sarah Levy Hooker 1

USA Women’s Sevens Traveling Staff

Head Coach | Emilie Bydwell
Assistant Coach | Zack Test
Athletic Trainer | Nicole Titmas
Strength & Conditioning | Trey Ford
Sports Psychologist | Peter Haberl

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