USA Women’s Sevens Preview: HSBC France Sevens 2019

Women’s Sevens to confirm Olympic qualification at season finale in Biarritz
UPDATE 6/7 | Nana Fa’avesi is out due to injury; Stephanie Rovetti will travel in her stead. 

BIARRITZ, FRA. – Having secured their fourth medal of the season with Bronze in Langford, the Women’s Eagles Sevens will compete in the final tournament of the season in Biarritz, June 15-16, LIVE on

The team only needs to step foot on the field for their first match to earn the single World Series point needed to confirm qualification to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.


For the second time this season, the Women’s Eagles Sevens opened HSBC Canada Sevens in Langford with a full sweep in pool play.

Down 0-12 in the opening match, the Eagles Sevens launched an incredible 21 point comeback to overcome Spain in the final minutes. Next was a strong 28-0 defeat of Fiji, followed by an impressive defensive stance that saw the USA overcome France 12-0 for a full sweep.

In what sits among the fiercest USA-Canada matchups, the Cup Quarterfinal was thrilling from end to end. Two heroic tries from Alev Kelter saw the United States overcome home team Canada 12-7 to make the Semifinals. There, New Zealand were hard to stop, claiming a 12-26 win and sending the U.S. to the Bronze Final.

Facing France once more, the Eagles Sevens were vibrant in their attack, cruising to a 26-5 podium finish for the fourth time this season. The medal increased the USA Women’s record of most medals earned in a single season, also giving them enough points to reach a world No. 2 position.

Once the group takes the field in Biarritz to earn the minimum point for tournament participation, the side will qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.


Head Coach Chris Brown has selected a traveling group of 13 players including a few faces who didn’t appear last tournament.

Cheta Emba will join the bunch as Jordan Matyas both recover from injuries sustained in Langford. McCravey will compete in her second tournament this season — having made her debut in Sydney — while Emba was sharp and dynamic through training the last couple weeks.

Langford saw Kristi Kirshe earn a nomination to the HSBC Dream Team, as the athlete was dominant not only in scoring tries, but forcing turnovers, making runs and creating space for other players to score.

Ilona Maher displayed similar antics, especially in a tight game with France in pool play where Maher held up a try and Gustaitis forced a penalty to preserve a close shutout.

As a team, the USA sit second in tackles, showing the work of a collective group to equally prioritize defensive skills alongside the many breakaway try scorers within the group.

Naya TapperKristen Thomas, Cheta Emba fill the squad with those listed above. Stephanie Rovetti will serve as an injury replacement.


In Pool C, the USA women will face China, Fiji and France in the hunt for a Cup Quarterfinal berth. China are currently ranked eleventh, Fiji are in tenth-place and France sit in fifth-place.

At No. 2 in the rankings, the USA women are currently two points ahead of No. 3 Canada and twelve points behind No. 1 New Zealand. A strong performance in Biarritz could allow the United States to cement their position at second in the world, marking the highest ever finish for the program in history.

The Eagles Sevens are also the only team on the World Series circuit to have made the semifinals at every tournament this season, medaling with Bronze at the last three consecutive stops. Yet, as the season finale approaches and with rankings tight at the top, all teams will be anxious to finish on a high note.



“It’s been a year defined by a lot of personal growth and one could say learning how to win ugly in big matches. I’m adamant the fight we see from the group has developed from our players’ willingness to continually be vulnerable with each other. The level of enjoyment and compassion towards one another has increased significantly.

“The next step for us is to enhance the consistency in how we control matches. When this group is on the same page and they individually take ownership and execute, they’re hard to handle. I’m hopeful that taking comfort in doing the simple things well will enhance the performance we see across the whole weekend in Biarritz.”


The Women’s Eagles Sevens have already made the 2019 HSBC World Series their most historic of all time. Four medals in five tournaments, a second-place ranking and what will soon become qualification to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games makes for a remarkable season. But with Canada close behind in the rankings, the United States will need to be consistent across both the pool rounds and knockout stages to solidify their No. 2 ranking and further the history already made.


1. Abby Gustaitis Prop/Hooker 7
2. Naya Tapper Wing/Prop 16
3. Alev Kelter Center/Prop 28
4. Kristen Thomas Hooker/Center 21
5. Cheta Emba Prop/Wing 11
6. Kasey McCravey Hooker/Flyhalf 1
7. Nicole Heavirland (C) Hooker/Scrumhalf 18
8. Nana Fa’avesi Scrumhalf 18
8. Stephanie Rovetti  Flyhalf/Wing 2
9. Kayla Canett Scrumhalf/Flyhalf 6
10. Lauren Doyle (C) Flyhalf/Wing 24
11. Kristi Kirshe Center/Wing 3
12. Ilona Maher Center/Prop 6


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


Pool C | Broadcast LIVE on World Rugby Sevens Facebook

vs China | Sat, June 15 – 7:58 AM ET
vs Fiji | Sat, June 15 – 10:42 AM ET
vs France | Sat, June 15 – 1:48 PM ET

View Pool Draw HereVisit World Series Stats Center


(Following HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens 2019)

Category Position
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Standing 2nd (80 points)
Most Points by a Team USA, 5th (569 points)
Most Tries by a Team USA, 5th (91 tries)
Most Tackles made by a Team USA, 2nd (436 tackles)
Most Restarts by a Team USA, 5th (102 restarts)

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