CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Women’s Eagles Sevens Head Coach Richie Walker could hand five athletes their HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series debuts at Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens to kick off the 2016-17 season Dec. 1-2.
Four Rio 2016 Olympians – Ryan Carlyle, Lauren Doyle, Joanne Fa’avesi, and Alev Kelter – and two of Team USA’s traveling reserves – Nicole Heavirland and Naya Tapper – have also been named in the squad set to face Australia, Russia, and South Africa in pool play in the morning hours of Thursday, Dec. 1(U.S. time).
Kate Zackary rounds out the experienced selections, and will join the Eagles in the United Arab Emirates directly from the XVs Eagles’ November Tour assembly this weekend. Fa’avesi, Kelter, and Tapper are also currently in France, where the U.S. finishes its tour against the host nation Friday, Nov. 25.
On debut are two AIG Women’s Collegiate All-Americans in Bulou Mataitoga and Nicole Strasko, as well as Harvard graduate Cheta Emba, who was a non-traveling reserve last season. Former Fallbrook High School standout and current Pennsylvania State University student-athlete Kayla Canett will be the youngest American in Dubai at 18 years of age, while Kristen Sommer of Seattle Saracens will make her first national team appearance since picking up the game in college.
“I’m very happy with the selections I’ve made, and excited to get the first tournament going to see what our new squad can do,” Walker said. “We’re looking to get these younger athletes more experience earlier rather than later for Rugby World Cup Sevens and, ideally, the 2020 Olympics.”
The Eagles’ pool play kicks off at 4:28 a.m. ET Friday, Dec. 1, and continues through the morning with the final kickoff against Australia scheduled for 10:43 a.m. ET. Broadcast details for viewers in the United States are still being finalized.