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USA Women Name 31 Players for 4 Fall Tests

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USA Women Name 31 Players for 4 Fall Tests

USA scrumhalf Carly Waters assesses her options during the USA's last trip to the UK, in 2018. Ian Muir photo.

USA Women's 15s Head Coach Rob Cain has selected 31 players for the Women’s Eagles’ first test series in nearly two years.

The team will face Canada twice on November 1 and 5 at Infinity Park in Colorado, Ireland on November 12 in Dublin and England on November 21 at Sixways Stadium in Worcester.

Five players from the USA Sevens programs are on the squad, including Sarah Levy, 2020 Olympians Kayla Canett, Alev Kelter, and Kristi Kirshe, as well as 2016 Olympian Nana Fa'avesi.

Five players, including Kirshe, could earn their first 15s caps. Of the 31, 13 are currently signed with professional clubs in the Allianz Premier 15s in England, including likely captain and recently-named Premiership Player of the Month Kate Zackary. Of the squad of 31, 25 players were at the most recent Daily Training Environment in the summer. Eight players were not available for selection either through injury, work commitments, or commitments to their collegiate teams: Cassidy Bargell, Amelia Bizer, Stacey Bridges, Emily Henrich, Mata Hingano, Leti Hingano, Erica Jarrell, Jordan Matyas.

“I know I speak for everyone when I say we can't wait to be out there again," said Cain. "Two years since our last international and the prospect of testing ourselves on the world stage is an exciting one and something we are all grateful for. There were obviously some very challenging times in the past couple years, but our players have been phenomenal in striving to get where we want to be. It’s great to see the light at the end of this tunnel where we can showcase this in some fascinating matches next month.

“We are very aware of the challenges that all four games present. Whether it's Canada's physicality or the number of test matches Ireland and England have played in the past couple years, we can't wait to meet those head on against some of the best in the world. Thank you to the players' families, their workplaces and the fantastic USA rugby community for their continued support. You are the difference maker for the players, and we can't wait to represent you on the world stage again.”

The Last Time Out

The Eagles last played in November of 2019, playing Canada twice at the Elite Athlete Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. Canada were victorious in both games, 19-0 and 52-24. Since then, the USA Women’s XVs have spent significant periods of time training as a group in multiple 6-8 week Daily Training Environments. DTEs included intrasquad scrimmages to boost competitive preparation and help coaches measure progress in the absence of international play.

Changes for the Global Women’s Game

The program and global women’s game have both hit important milestones recently. An unprecedented number of Eagles were placed in professional clubs to compete alongside the best in the world in the Allianz Premier 15s while World Rugby confirmed the annual Pac Four series, presented by MasterCard.

Pac Four will be a regularly contested tournament featuring the United States, New Zealand, Canada and Australia. Next month’s USA-Canada fixtures form part of the event’s regional series with the Black Ferns and Wallabies joining the group in 2022 ahead of the World Cup.

Planning for Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand continues to progress with Italy confirmed as part of the Women’s Eagles’ pool. The Americans will face Canada, Italy and Asia I in Pool B as competition runs October 8 to November 12 of next year. Matches are broadcast on NBC’s family of networks with a full match schedule available here.

The Impact of COVID-19

It is known that COVID-19 has impacted every nation and sporting program differently. Whereas most teams will enter their Autumn Internationals having played some level of competitive internationals since the pandemic, the Women’s Eagles have had to adapt without such opportunities while also balancing full-time jobs.

(Even the players with professional clubs are often not paid, and only given housing and food, and therefore if they want to earn money over and above that have to work additional jobs, usually with US-based employers in a remote-work setup.)

The program and its players are known for their resilient efforts in training and preparation but much cannot be accomplished without support from the community. Both individual players and the program itself rely on philanthropic contributions to run Daily Training Environments and mitigate the financial impact to players who must take leave from their professional jobs.

To give a gift to the Women’s Eagles or underwrite an upcoming assembly in the buildup to Rugby World Cup, contact creed@usa.rugby.

Women’s Eagles Full Squad
Player Position Club Caps
Catherine Benson Prop Sale Sharks (ENG) 23
Amy Talei Bonte Center Gloucester Hartpury (ENG) 6
Elizabeth Cairns Back Row Life West Gladiatrix 11
Kayla Canett Fullback USA Sevens 7
Gabby Cantorna Flyhalf/Center Exeter Chiefs (ENG) 8
Jennine Detiveaux Wing Exeter Chiefs (ENG) 7
Rachel Ehrecke Back Row Colorado Gray Wolves uncapped
Joanne Nana Fa'avesi Center USA Sevens 2
Tess Feury Fullback New York Rugby 6
Megan Foster Flyhalf San Diego Surfers 5
Saher Hamdan Hooker Life University uncapped
McKenzie Hawkins Fullback Colorado Gray Wolves 3
Katana Howard Flyhalf Sale Sharks (ENG) 4
Charli Jacoby Prop Loughborough Lightning (ENG) 6
Nick James Prop Sale Sharks (ENG) 12
Kathryn Johnson Back Row Twin City Amazons 7
Rachel Johnson Back Row Exeter Chiefs (ENG) 7
Alev Kelter Center USA Sevens 13
Kristi Kirshe Wing USA Sevens uncapped
Joanna Kitlinski Hooker Colorado Gray Wolves 14
Jenny Kronish Lock Beantown Rfc uncapped
Maya Learned Prop Gloucester Hartpury (ENG) 2
Sarah Levy Wing USA Sevens 2
Bulou Mataitoga Wing Berkeley All Blues 3
Olivia Ortiz Scrumhalf Davenport & Chicago North Shore 5
Hope Rogers Prop Life West Gladiatrix 29
Kristine Sommer Second Row / Back Row Gloucester Hartpury (ENG) 13
Hallie Taufoou Lock Colorado Gray Wolves uncapped
Alycia Washington Lock Worcester Warriors (ENG) 22
Carly Waters Scrumhalf Saracens (ENG) 4
Kate Zackary Back Row Exeter Chiefs (ENG) 15

USA Women’s XVs Traveling Staff
Head Coach | Rob Cain
Team Manager | Lou Stewart (Glendale only)
Team Manager | Deb McGrath (UK)
Assistant Coach | Jamie Burke (Glendale only)
Assistant Coach | Rich Ashfield (Glendale only)
Assistant Coach | Neil Harris (UK)
Assistant Coach | Kate Daley
Analyst | Callum Howells
Analyst | Caitlin Singletary
Head of Strength & Conditioning | Sylvia Braaten (Glendale only)
Strength and Conditioning | Albert Sasu
Lead Athletic Trainer | Hillary Stepansky
Athletic Trainer | Amie Kern
Athletic Trainer | Jade Callan
Team Doctor | Terrence Cronin (UK)

USA Women’s XVs Autumn Internationals
November 1, 2021
USA vs Canada
Glendale, CO

November 5, 2021
USA vs Canada
Glendale, CO

November 12, 2021
USA vs Ireland
Dublin, IRE

November 21, 2021
USA vs England
KO 2:45 PM local time
Worcester, UK