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This was their finest hour.

The USA Women defeated reigning circuit leader New Zealand 26-10 to take their first HSBC Sevens 2018/2019 series title. From the first whistle to the last, the Eagles demonstrated grit and purpose to secure this historic win. The tournament was played in Biarritz, France.

The victory with its 20 points for the gold medal, took the Eagles to a record high 100 points in the six- match series, earning a deserved second place standing, ten points behind the champion Black Ferns who amassed 110 points. Canada was third with 94 points, and Australia secured the fourth place with 86. These four nations qualified for rugby sevens in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Eagles won the three pool games, beat Russia in the quarters, and then Spain in the next round. The pool draw lead to meeting New Zealand in the final match, and not, as in past encounters, engaging the Black Ferns in the semis.

The gold medal match started auspiciously for the Eagles when Kelter sprinted 80-meters for the try to make it 5-0.  A few minutes later, Emba charged up the middle to increase the lead to 10-0, then 12-0 after Kelter’s conversion.  It was the stingy USA defense that bottled up the New Zealand attack, which never seemed to gain steam. But Black Fern star Ruby Tui scored in the corner to make it 12-5. What followed was a magnificent 70-meter Kelter score, followed by her own conversion, putting the USA up 19-5 at the break.

The teams traded tries in the second half, the Eagles scoring on a nifty break by Lauren Doyle.

The match ended with a pronounced USA win at 26-10. See the highlights at

Tears of joy for the team as they realized a double goal, a gold medal, and a win against the indominable Black Ferns.

Congratulations to the players, Coach Chris Brown, and his staff.


1. Cheta Emba
2. Ilona Maher
3. Abby Gustaitis
4. Nicole Heavirland (C)
5. Alev Kelter
6. Lauren Doyle (C)
7. Naya Tapper
8. Kasey McCravey
9. Stephanie Rovetti
10. Kayla Canett
11. Kris Thomas
12. Kristi Kirshe 


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