Women's National Team selected for November Tour 2018

[su_news_update date=”10/25″ newsupdate=”Finau Tamaivena has replaced Misha Green due to injury. Updates reflected below.”][su_news_update date=”11/6″ newsupdate=”Joanne Kitlinski replaces Eti Haungatau due to injury.”]

  • 34 players selected to represent Women’s National Team this November
  • Heavy representation of collegiate athletes with up to 21 new caps awarded 
  • Eight players return from Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 
  • Kate Zackary to serve as Captain 

CHULA VISTA, CA. – The Women’s National Team has officially named its 34 player roster to face No. 1 New Zealand, No. 2 England and No. 8 Ireland for the upcoming November Internationals 2018.

After last taking the pitch for their fourth-place finish at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017, a new wave of players were selected from recent age-grade, senior high performance camp and Women’s Premier League performances; bringing a diverse group of athletes for the upcoming November schedule.

During the Fall tour, the Women’s Selects will also play an “A” level match to be announced later.

General Manager for Women’s High Performance Emilie Bydwell said: “We are thrilled for the long anticipated return of the Women’s 15s team to competition. Although the team has not assembled for matches in 14 months, there was significant work done in the background to ensure that we have the management staff, processes, players and competition structures in place to accelerate this program’s development over the next three years.

“Over the course of the summer we prioritized running six age-grade events and one senior team event in order to identify the next generation of players that will contribute to the program over the next three years. We understand that we will be playing the best two teams on flanking weekends with 21 new caps but firmly believe to achieve our goal of quarterfinal and semifinal victories at the 2021 World Cup, we need to expose our players to top early in the quad so we can set our program’s Key Performance Indicators and development plans accordingly.”

Of the 34 named players, nine return from the aforementioned Women’s Rugby World Cup, eleven have won a national club or college championship in the last 14 months and three are current Women’s Junior All-Americans. 21 players have the opportunity to earn their first cap over the course of the tour.

The diversity represented on the squad is a direct representation of the budding talent populating Women’s Rugby across the nation. Overall, at least 15 players have at one point represented the USA Rugby All-American programs at the High School, Junior, or Collegiate levels.

Among them, are 2018 Women’s Junior All-Americans Tiana A’au, Emily Henrich, Finau Tamaivena and McKenna Strong who all competed at the recent U20 Women’s Tri-Nations Cup. Henrich earned Man of the Match honors for her thrilling performance against Canada U20s and will be one of two 18-year olds hunting for her first cap, along with Eti Huangatau. 

Club XV National Champions (Life West Gladiatrix) Catherine Benson and Nikki Kenyon earn selections, along with 2017 Women’s Premier League National Champions Alicia Washington. The collegiate game is strongly represented, as well, with D1 Elite Champions (Lindenwood) Mckenna Strong, McKenzie Hawkins, AK Pedroza and Joyce Taufa representing one of many institutions.

Headlining the team as Captain is Kate Zackary, a Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 and Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 athlete who owns six caps and has featured regularly on the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.

Zackary’s experience will be complemented by teammates both from the sevens and fifteens side with Kathryn Augustyn, Jordan Gray, Kelsi Stockert, Kimber Rozier and Kristine Sommer — to name a few.

Club 7s National Champions Megan Foster and Meya Bizer also return to the Women’s National Team. Foster recently appeared with the Women’s Falcons last month while Bizer comes back after last appearing at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014. 

Alongside a wealth of talent on the playing side, four Women’s Eagle Alumni come back into the fold in supporting positions. Jamie Burke — USA’s most capped Women’s Eagle — and Kate Daley, captain of the 2014 Women’s World Cup team, will both serve as Assistant Coaches. As Coaches for the Glendale Merlins and Penn State University (7s and 15s), respectively, Burke and Daley both own multiple national championships.

2017 World Cup Captain Tiffany Faaee will serve as a Player Mentor and support the team in a management capacity while Eagle Alumn Jenny Lui will take on a role as a Player Mentor and Technical Halfbacks Coach.

The coaching team also welcomes back longtime Women’s Eagles Assistant Coach Richard Ashfield and Ian Jones, who was the member of the 2014 World Cup Management Team. Jones will serve as the Head of Physical Performance.

Under the direction of new Head Coach Rob Cain, the Women’s Eagles will open their November schedule against No. 1 New Zealand as part of The Rugby Weekend’s triple-header on Nov. 3 at Chicago’s Soldier Field. Tickets are available at therugbyweekend.com with the match streamed live on FloRugby.

Following the clash, the United States will travel to Europe for a test match with England on Nov. 9 at Allianz Park before they closing out their schedule against Ireland on Nov. 18 at Energia Park. Broadcast information will be confirmed closer to date.


Player Position Club Notes Caps
Tiana A’au * Prop Central Washington University • 2018 Women’s Junior All-American
• Former Women’s High School All-American
• Hawk Eye Development Program
Kathryn Augustyn Hooker Berkeley All Blues • Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 31
Catherine Benson Prop Life West Gladiatrix • Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017
• 2018 Club 15s National Champion
Amelia “Meya” Bizer Back Three Women’s Sevens Residency • Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014
• 2018 Club 7s National Champion
• Former Women’s Junior All-American
Stacey Bridges Lock Beantown Rugby • Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017
• Former Women’s Junior All-American
Kaitlyn Broughton * Back Three Atlanta Harlequins • 2018 Collegiate All-American
Gabby Cantorna * Fly half Glendale Merlins • 2018 Collegiate All-American
• Former Women’s Junior All-American
Jennine Duncan * Back Three Seattle Saracens • 2017 Club 7s National Champion
Melissa Helga Finkelstein * Prop Glendale Merlins
Megan Foster Back Three San Diego Surfers • 2018 Club 7s National Champion 4
Jordan Gray Back row Women’s Sevens Residency • Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017
• 2018 Women’s Junior All-American
McKenzie Hawkins * Flyhalf/Center Lindenwood University • Former Women’s Junior All-American
• Former Women’s High School All- American
• 2018 D1 Elite National Champion
Emily Henrich * Center Dartmouth College • Women’s Junior All-American
• Women’s High School All-American
• Hawk Eye Development Program
Evan Hoese * Center Berkeley All Blues
Nick James Prop Houston Athletic • Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 3
Rachel Johnson Back Row Oregon Sports Union
Nikki Kenyon* Scrumhalf Women’s Sevens Residency / Life West Gladiatrix  • 2018 Club XV Champion with Life West Gladiatrix 
Joanne Kitlinski Hooker/Back Row Glendale Merlins
Cortney Kuehl * Center Atlanta Harlequins • 2018 Collegiate All American Camp Attendee
Sarah Levy * Back Three New York Rugby • 2018 Collegiate All American Camp Attendee
Darian Lovelace * Back row Atlanta Harlequins • 2018 Collegiate All American Camp Attendee
• Women’s Premier League All-Star
Azniv Nalbandian * Prop Penn State University • Former Women’s Junior All-American
Anna Karen Pedroza* Scrum half Lindenwood University • 2018 D1 Elite National Champion
Megan Rom * Prop Life University • 2018 Collegiate All-American Camp Attendee 
Kimber Rozier Center Beantown Rugby • Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 28
Frankie Sands * Back Three Northumbria / Darlington Rugby (ENG) • 2018 Collegiate All-American Camp Attendee 
Kristine Sommer Lock Harlequins (ENG) / Seattle Saracens • Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 5
Kelsi Stockert Back Three Women’s Sevens Residency • Women’s Eagle Sevens 5
Mckenna Strong * Lock Lindenwood University • Women’s Junior All-American
• Former Women’s High School All-American
• 2018 D1 Elite National Champion
Joyce Taufa * Hooker Lindenwood University • D1 Elite National Champion
Finau Tamaivena* Back row Seattle Saracens  • 2018 Women’s Junior All-American 
Alycia Washington Lock New York Rugby • Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017
• 2017 Women’s Premier League Champion
Carly Waters * Scrumhalf New York Rugby • 2018 Collegiate All-American Camp Attendee
Kate Zackary (C) Back Row San Diego Surfers • Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017
• Women’s 7s Rugby World Cup 2018

*Indicates athlete has not been capped yet.
**Players listed as back row will rotate between all three positions (flanker, No 8). Players listed as back three will rotate between both wing and fullback. Notes are not a comprehensive list of achievements for each player, but recent highlights referenced above.

NON-TRAVELING RESERVES: Bui Baravilala, Sarah Buonopane, Tess Feury, Joanna Kitlinski, Neariah Persinger, Finau Tamaivena, Elizabeth Trujillo, Brittany Simunac, Nicole Strasko

UNAVAILABLE DUE TO INJURY: Julia Buescher, Bitsy Cairns, Gio Cruz, Christiane Pheil, Hope Rogers


Head Coach | Rob Cain
Assistant Coach | Richard Ashfield
Assistant Coach | Kate Daley
Assistant Coach | Jamie Burke
Technical Halfbacks Coach & Player Mentor | Jenny Lui (Chicago)
Head of Physical Performance | Ian Jones
Head Performance Analyst | David Gardner
Assistant Performance Analyst | Craig Wilson (Chicago)
Head Athletic Trainer | Bri Sparks
Assistant Athletic Trainer | Katherine Henry
Player Mentor & Manager | Tiffany Faaee



The Rugby Weekend
vs New Zealand
Sat, Nov. 3 | 12 PM CT
Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
Purchase Tickets

vs England
Fri, Nov. 9 | 2:45 PM ET
Allianz Park, London, England

vs Ireland
Sun, Nov. 18 | Time TBC
Energia Park, Dublin, Ireland