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USA Names Women's Rugby Olympic Squad

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USA Names Women's Rugby Olympic Squad

Jordan Matyas, Lauren Doyle, and Nicole Heavirland all are on the team. Photo martin Seras Lima.

CHULA VISTA, CA—USA Rugby has announced its full 15-player women’s roster for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, pending approval from the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

Led by Head Coach Chris Brown, the roster features 12 starters, one alternate and two traveling reserves. 

Abby Gustaitis and Kristen Thomas will serve as co-captains as the USA Women fight for their first medal in only the second appearance for rugby sevens at the Games. The program finished fifth at Rio 2016. 

Ten of the 12 starters are first-time Olympians; Lauren Doyle and Alev Kelter both competed in Rio. Kelter leads the squad in several statistical categories including tries, tackles, and overall appearances in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. 

The squad also features Ariana Ramsey who hasn’t debuted in the World Series but made a strong showing at the PanAm Games Lima 2019 where the U.S. won silver.  

Nana Fa’avesi (2016 Olympian) and Kasey McCravey will support the team as traveling reserves after an incredibly competitive selection process. 

“In the past month we’ve had our most competitive intrasquad scrimmages since I started with the program back in 2018," said Brown. "All individual players contributed heavily and showed, if called upon, they could represent this wonderful country at the highest level well. This obviously made selection of the extended squad extremely tough but the unity we’ve shown for the past 18 months has been second to none. 

“Although this announcement is exciting for many of our players, it’s devastating for a number of their closest teammates. I say this because it's important to acknowledge that those going to Tokyo have a huge responsibility to represent the entire program, all our families and the United States of America. 

“As a team, we have a great deal of strike power across the park. But looking at the increasing progress and competitiveness of the women’s game, we won’t be anywhere near winning a gold medal if we play as individuals as opposed to working as a group. 

“That said, we have enough big match experience from the last three years to fully trust and believe that when we focus on the task at hand, play with discipline and fight as a collective, we are extremely hard to handle and we will be exactly where we need to reach the podium.

“Over the next few weeks, our emphasis in training will be to continue sharpening our defensive approach, focus on the opposition and connect our specific tools to challenge each of them.” 

Recent Results 

Brown and his team finished 2020 ranked fifth after the World Series was disrupted mid-season due to COVID-19. Prior to that, the program completed its most successful year in history, claiming five medals in six tournaments to end 2019 as No. 2 in the world. For more information on team history and records, visit tokyo.usa.rugby. 

Next Competition 

The named roster will compete in one final prep tournament at Quest for Gold Sevens in Los Angeles from June 25-26. Held at Dignity Health Sports Park, this will be the final opportunity for USA fans to see the team in-person ahead of Tokyo. Both days will be streamed LIVE (details TBA) while Saturday will welcome fans in the stadium. Tickets start at only $25 and are available at questforgold.usa.rugby

 

Movements in Japan 

Departing for Japan in mid-July, the Eagles Sevens will spend the first week training in Mimasaka before transferring to Tokyo for the opening ceremony on July 23. Rugby Sevens competition runs July 26-28 for the men and July 29-31 for the women. The USA Men’s Sevens roster will be named publicly on July 2. 

All team nominations are subject to USOPC approval. 

 

USA Rugby Women’s Roster for Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
PLAYER NAME HOMETOWN POSITION WORLD SERIES EVENTS
Kayla Canett-Oca Fallbrook, CA Halfback/Flyhalf 10
Lauren Doyle Boody, IL Flyhalf/Wing 30
Cheta Emba Richmond, VA Prop 16
Abby Gustaitis (Co-Captain) Baltimore, MD Prop/Hooker 13
Nicole Heavirland Whitefish, MT Hooker/Scrumhalf 23
Leyla Alev Kelter Eagle River, AK Center/Prop 33
Kristi Kirshe Frankfurt, MA Center/Wing 8
Ilona Maher Burlington, VT Center/Prop 12
Jordan Matyas Calgary, Alberta, CAN Prop 14
Ariana Ramsey Bridgeport, PA Wing 0
Naya Tapper Charlotte, NC Wing 21
Kristen Thomas (Co-Captain) Philadelphia, PA Hooker/Center 26
Alternates and Reserves      
Nia Toliver
(Alternate)
Los Angeles, CA Prop/Wing 0
Kasey McCravey
(Traveling Reserve)
Scottsdale, AZ Hooker/Flyhalf 4
Nana Fa'avesi
(Traveling Reserve)
Sacramento, CA Prop/Wing 18

 

U.S. Women’s Staff for Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Head of Women’s High Performance | Emilie Bydwell

Head Coach | Chris Brown

Head of Physical Performance | Matt Long

Athletic Trainer | Nicole Titmas

Team Leader | Liz Strohecker 

Team Physician | Alex Myers

Performance Analyst | Emily Record

S&C Coach | Trey Ford

Dietitian | Jacque Scaramella

Sports Psychologist | Peter Haberl