CHULA VISTA, Calif.—Olympians return as US Women’s 7s head coach Emilie Bydwell, naming her match for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series stops in Malaga and Seville, Spain, taking place January 21-23 and January 28-30 .
Matches are broadcast on NBC’s streaming platform Peacock.
Sarah Levy and Olympian Kayla Canett return for the first time since the Edmonton Fast Four event after competing with the Women’s Eagles in XVs for their Autumn Internationals; Levy will earn her first official World Series cap. Olympians Lauren Doyle, Nicole Heavirland and Kristi Kirshe will all return to the international sevens competition for the first time since the Tokyo Games.
Lauren Doyle and Alena Olsen lead as captain and vice-captain respectively.
The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series held back-to-back tournaments in Dubai last December to mark the opening rounds of the new season. Coach Bydwell and the USA Women finished eighth on the first weekend and fifth in the second, finishing fifth in 2022 with four rounds to go.
Ilona Maher led the team in numerous statistical categories after the second weekend of action, including points, tries, runs and tackles; while she, Alev Kelter, Jazmine Gray and Naya Tapper were in clean breaks. Compared to other teams, the USA Women rank seventh in runs scored and fifth in tackles, showing a defensive improvement that will increase as the season progresses.
Maher, the 2017 MA Sorensen Award winner as the nation’s best collegiate player (Quinnipiac), is joined by 2020 winner Spiff Sedrick (Life University).
Matchups in Malaga
The US will be drawn into Pool B with rivals Canada, Poland and Olympic bronze medalists Fiji. Canada is in 10th place on the track, having finished 8th at both events in Dubai. Poland will be playing in their first World Series event this season, replacing New Zealand who are unable to participate due to the travel effects of COVID-19. Fiji have continued their hot streak from Tokyo winning back-to-back silver medals in Dubai, maintaining the No. 2 position on the track and proving to be a top team in the game.
“With only six World Series events this season, the next two tournaments will occupy the middle third of our season and will be significant opportunities for us to define the next chapter for our team and take the necessary steps forward to build our platform.” to be built before 2022. Rugby World Cup,” said Bydwell. “We will focus heavily on our ability to create line breaks, use momentum and field possession to make decisions and improve our speed of support. Defensively, we will strive to complete our gear, improve the integrity of our defensive form and the speed at which we reconnect during transition play. ”
USA Timetable to Spain (College program in brackets if applicable):
Kayla Cannett-Penn State
Nicole Heavirland-West Point
Lauren Doyle-Eastern Illinois
Naya Tapper-North Carolina Chapel Hill
Alex Sedrick-Life University
Sui A’au-Central Washington
Kristen Thomas-Central Florida