From USA Rugby press release:
GLENDALE, CO. – USA Rugby’s Women’s Eagles Sevens have opened their Olympic qualifying year by winning a silver medal at the HSBC USA Women’s Sevens 2018 in Glendale, Colorado. After knocking off 2016 Olympic gold medalist Australia in the Cup Semifinals, the team secured a spot in the Cup Final and gold medal match against 2018 World Cup champion New Zealand.
Though they ultimately left their home tournament with silver, the United States women now sit in second-place in the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series 2019. The Series — which includes six tournament stops across the globe — serves as the principal route for qualification to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Following the final stop in Paris, the Top 4 ranked teams will earn automatic qualification to the Games.
Head Coach Chris Brown said: “This morning I’m so proud that they made a decision to come out and try and execute what we’ve been training for the last two months.
“We had a jersey presentation with all our family and friends on Friday night and it means a lot to be able to play at home because it’s [rugby] not a big sport here yet and it’s growing. To have a stadium where the atmosphere is awesome in front of our family and friends, is just outstanding.”
The United States opened their season with three new players — all significant senior club standouts — and a new leader, with Brown officially being named Head Coach last week. Their dominant medal-winning finish is a significant indication of the growth of rugby across the U.S. with debutant Alena Olsen torching the field for a game-winning try on the final play of the USA’s semifinal matchup with 2016 Rio Olympic gold medalist Australia.
As a result of their stunning performances, two U.S. players made the World Rugby Sevens Dream Team with 2016 Olympian Alev Kelter and Quinnipiac University standout Ilona Maher earning the coveted tournament honors. Maher closed the competition as the second-highest try scorer of the weekend.
Over the two-days of action, thousands of spectators from around the world gathered in Glendale, Colorado’s premier rugby epicenter at Infinity Park to witness 12 national rugby sevens teams compete in an elite international competition. With the nation still buzzing from the first ever U.S. hosted Rugby World Cup at AT&T Park in July, the medal win on home soil has further cemented rugby sevens within the hearts and minds of American fans.
The USA will now head back to the U.S. Olympic Training Site in Chula Vista, CA to prepare for their next tournament in Dubai as the road to qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games continues.
To view full Olympic qualification pathway documentation for Tokyo 2020 please click here.