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CHULA VISTA, CA. - USA Rugby has announced the names of 24 athletes who will train full-time as part of the Women's Eagles Sevens Residency Program at the U.S. Olympic Training Site in Chula Vista, CA. Players will be available for selection for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019 and PanAm Games 2019 with the potential to also compete in developmental Falcons tours.
The roster includes 19 players who have made appearances on the Sevens Series circuit with five who still seek their national team debut. Of those five are Kasey McCravey, Kate Herran, Kristi Kirshe, Nikki Kenyon and Eti Haungatau. Haungatau is the youngest player in residency at only 18 years old while McCravey and Kirshe will look to make their debut at Sydney Sevens 2019.
The Women's Sevens Residency Program will be fully-integrated with the Women's National Team 15s where all resident-athletes can also be selected for the Women's Eagles. While decisions will be made on an individual basis, both programs will work hand-in-hand to provide athletes with multiple opportunities to compete and excel at the international level.
During the course of the year, resident athletes will engage in a full-time training program led by Women's Sevens Head Coach Chris Brown, aimed at growing rugby knowledge, building core skills and preparing for tournaments through the season.
High performance (HP) training camps take place at various points within the residency program's regular regimen where non-resident athletes are also invited to the Olympic Training Site. Camps will be themed in one of three groups: wider pool players, Next Generation players as part of the Hawk Eye program or Talent Transfer prospects which include crossover athletes from other sports. HP camps serve as an intense period of preparation where national team coaches and staff are evaluating players for selection to the residency program and/or upcoming competition.
General Manager for Women's High Performance Emilie Bydwell said: "We are very excited about our 2018-2019 season residency group, the competition within the squad for World Series selection now has a significant impact on our ability to improve and compete for the program's first ever top four finish.
"The pathway programs -- whether that be age grades, national club competition and National Development Academies -- are producing an increasingly higher quality of player and athlete. This is directly complemented by the programs' continuing initiative to identify top tier athletes to transfer into rugby. We will be using the rest of this season and the summer to finalize our squad for the Olympic year and create the platform for a medal performance in Tokyo."
The Women's Eagles Sevens will next compete in the third round of the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series at HSBC Sydney Sevens Jan 31-Feb 3. Currently sitting in third-place, the team will need to conclude the season in the Top 4 in order to automatically qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.