Fifty-five players have been named to the Eagle pool that will supply next summer’s Women’s Rugby World Cup (WRWC) team. Fewer than half of the players below (26) will make the final cut, but we’ve lent some depth to each athlete in case some names are unfamiliar. The reality is that there aren’t 55 international-ready rugby players in the U.S., but that’s OK. Included in this pool of 55 are players who need more high-level experience, and they’ll get that over the next year.
A few trends emerged from the player pool:
- Twelve players competed at the 2010 WRWC, and another four were cut in the last round (latter figure includes Jill Potter, a late removal due to injury).
- Ten players are current or recently released USA 7s full-timers, and as expected, all but one (Potter) are backs.
- Glendale sent the most representatives, and six of seven players are forwards (Stolba is the lone back).
- Berkeley sent six players, but their reps are more evenly distributed across the field: hooker, lock (2), flanker, scrumhalf, wing
- Three of the five Twin Cities Amazons are flankers.
- Five college students are in the pool; although Davis, Cantorna and Rogers are all seniors. There were no college players on the 2010 WRWC team; Stacey Bridges was closest, having graduated Texas A&M a semester early in December 2009.
A great representation of the USA follows, but there are two striking omissions: Vanesha McGee and Vix Folayan. These two USA 7s residents are undoubtedly the best wings in the country, but they won’t be helping the Eagles in Paris next August. That void will be felt.
Amanda Kingzett – Flanker, Twin Cities Amazons
Injury hampered this Amazons all-star during the previous year, but the former WPL Championship MVP has remained on Steinberg’s watch list. She’s a top performer for Twin Cities, which has sent two more flankers – Lynelle Kugler and Stacey Bridges – to the RWC pool.
Amanda Street – Wing, D.C. Furies
Street became a regular fixture at USA 7s camps over the last year and burst onto the 15s scene this past summer during the Nations Cup. She led all try scorers at the Club 7s Championship this year and helped MARFU to an All Star 7s championship.
Meya Bizer – Fullback/center, Penn State
Bizer has been the most prolific college player over the last year. Starting with the 2012 fall tour to France, then China with the USA 7s, England with the Junior All Americans, and all the assemblies in between, this hard-hitting youngster is clearly someone in which USA Rugby wants to invest.
Anna Brown – Lock, Twin Cities [Correction: Original entry described Anna Symonds]
The Amazons forwards used to outweigh their backs in fame, and lock Anna Brown is an integral part of that unit. Brown doesn't have any caps to her credit, but she did represent the USA A against Canada A in 2009.
Anne Peterson – Center/flyhalf, Washington State
Peterson garnered national attention during WSU’s DII nationals run, but at flyhalf. USA 15s coach Pete Steinberg was already aware of the Tasmania native and fast-tracked her to the senior level. A couple of months later, she was playing center for the Eagles against France. Lots of potential; still a little green.
Ashley Kmiecik – Wing, Emerald City
The power wing scored one of the most memorable tries against France this summer, and the photo of her pumping her first while running back toward her team has pervaded USA Rugby’s imagery. Compact and strong, the USA co-captain is one of 12 pool players who competed at the 2010 Rugby World Cup. Although Kmiecik's world cup experience ended early due to injury.
Carmen Farmer – Lock, Severn River
A late-comer to the game, the 30-year-old was a surprise addition to the France tests' roster, but she bust out of obscurity quickly. A wing for her DII club, Steinberg put her long legs to work at lock, but she's comfortable stretching them out in the open field.
Carrie White – Scrumhalf, Seattle
White is one of our favorite scrumhalves to watch. She’s tiny, quick and feisty. She’s the backbone of the Breakers’ offense, especially in 7s, where she uses her quick attack to punish distracted defenses.
Christy Ringgenberg – Flyhalf/fullback, Minnesota Valkyries
Ringgenberg is the epitome of experience. She’s competed in three world cups – two 7s, one 15s – and recently ended a 10-month stint as a USA 7s resident. She’s currently CIPPed with the Minnesota Valkyries, and her future likely lies in the 15s realm.
Deven Owsiany – Scrumhalf, USA 7s
The Penn State alum made a late change to scrumhalf before the 7s world cup, but she was great – aggressive, tough, solid pass. She only got a little time at #9 against South Africa in the Nations Cup, but Steinberg is keeping his options open, as this halfback position is one that has no clear top contender.
Elena Cantorna – Scrumhalf, Penn State
Cantorna has worked her way up through the system, and as one of three current Penn Staters, Steinberg’s been able to keep an eye on her progress. We haven’t seen her on the international senior stage, yet, and with less than a year before the world cup, that will handicap the collegian.
Elizabeth Fierman – Prop, Beantown
This Northeastern grad and former Collegiate All American has yet to prove herself against international competition, but she highlights the always intimidating Beantown front row and has learned from some of the best.
Emilie Bydwell – Center, San Diego
The former USA 7s full-timer is arguably the best center in the game right now. She has two RWCs – 15s and 7s – under her belt, in addition to the time she’s spent with the Chula Vista residents. She’s big and strong like a center should be, and runs great lines.
Emily Van Gulik – Lock, Berkeley
The soon-to-be 25-year-old didn’t make the cut for the Nations Cup this past summer, nor did she earn a cap when she travelled to France and Italy last November. But Steinberg is still interested in the former Collegiate All American, who is fine-tuning her trade with the best club in the country – Berkeley.
Erica Cavanaugh – Wing, NOVA
This past summer saw a lot of young, untested players work into the backline, and none left such an impression as Cavanaugh. Bigger than the average wing, she's got decent speed but will be remembered for her power.
Francine Bray – Lock, Austin Valkyries
Bray is another player who hasn’t been tested on the senior international level. She's been to the camps, and came close to making the 2011 Nations Cup squad, but has yet to cross over. Will be tough to break the top 26.
Hannah Stolba – Flyhalf, Glendale
Stolba is one of our favorites in this halfback position, even though USA 7s' Sadie Anderson and Kimber Rozier got the nod most recently. She nearly made the 2010 RWC and has since fine-tuned her game with Glendale, which is sending nine players to the Eagle pool. Great boot, great management, great flyhalf.
Rosie Miesner – Lock, New York
Miesner had some injury issues during the last year, but she’s back to form playing with New York. Before the lock took a break from active play, she was high on the list of to-watch players, as Steinberg noted her work rate and lineout efficiency as top notch.
Hope Rogers – Prop, Penn State
There’s nothing like an injection of youthful vigor, and that’s Roger’s in a nutshell. She debuted with the senior squad during the France series early in the summer, proved her worth as an impact player, went overseas with the Jr. All Americans, and then started three of four games at Nations Cup. She is one of the bright, new stars.
Jamie Burke - Prop, Glendale
The all-time caps leader needs no introduction. She’s been a mainstay in the front row for the previous two RWCs, and her move to Glendale will place her alongside many of her Eagle forwards.
Jenny Lui - Scrumhalf, Chicago North Shore
Lui saw about five minutes in one of the June France tests, so we didn’t have much time to evaluate her in the position. Like Owsiany, halfback is not her first choice, but she’s dedicated to it and even spent time in Canada last summer to expedite her progress.
Jess Davis - Prop, American International College
Davis toured with the Eagles last November but didn’t see any playing time. That changed during the summer, and the AIC senior turned into an important impact sub. She’s working under fellow Eagle and AIC head coach Mel Denham while still in school, so she’s in good hands.
Jess Wooden - Fullback, Atlanta
Wooden has been to all of the camps, but she’s another player who doesn’t have any international experience. She was at the center of Atlanta’s run to the DI championship last year and certainly destined for bigger things; we just haven’t seen it yet.
Jill Potter - No. 8, USA 7s
Two months before the 2010 RWC, the then-captain was removed from the roster due to an injury sustained against Canada. Since then, she’s spent two years in the USA 7s residency program and remains the epitome of hard work, physicality and positivity.
Joanna Kitlinski - Flanker, Glendale
Watching last year’s WPL final, one thought: If Kitlinski isn’t in the Eagle pool, then she should be. She’s young and has no caps to her credit, but she’s fast, hard and incredibly dynamic. It’s a tough field to break into - loose forward - but we see great potential.
Jocelyn Tseng - Scrumhalf, Berkeley
Tseng took some time off while in medical school, but the opportunity to pursue a RWC spot was too attractive. She showed a little rust during the summer tests, but she also reminded us of the X factor she brings to the pitch - like the box kick she booted and plucked out of the air against France. Tenacity like that helped the USA to their lone win over Les Bleus.
Kate Daley - No. 8, Chicago North Shore
Daley nearly made the 2010 RWC squad as well, but now she’s in much better position for a trip to Paris. Heads turned when the No. 8 stepped in as scrumhalf against South Africa this summer, but it’s safe to say that’s an experiment that won’t be repeated.
Katie Dowty - Wing/fullback, at large
Dowty was recently released by the USA 7s program, but even during her time in Chula Vista, she saw time on the Eagle 15s team (2011 Nations Cup). She’s a bigger offensive threat at fullback, compared to Bizer for instance, but needs to work on the kicking skills required of the position.
Katie O’Malley - Wing, D.C. Furies
O’Malley is another one whose name is more familiar in the national 7s game; she donned a USA 7s representative jersey in Las Vegas and has been a regular in the Chula Vista camps. She’s now with D.C. from Beantown, playing alongside fellow wing hopeful Amanda Street.
Katy Augustyn - Hooker, Berkeley
Augustyn is another Beantown alum who’s been in Berkeley the last couple of years. She’s a favorite in the hooker position, but has also been an integral part of Berkeley’s 7s team - so she can definitely handle the ball when she wants to.
Kimber Rozier - Flyhalf, USA 7s
Rozier replaced Sadie Anderson during the first game of the Nations Cup, and then started the three games afterward. Both have great boots and pass, but Rozier is more sound on defense and a better conversion kicker. She, too, is a full-time resident in Chula Vista.
Kitt Wagner - Hooker, Glendale
Wagner is another name we’ve been hearing for a long time. She’s a great flanker, but on the international stage, with her size, hooker is her spot. She works among some of the best pack players in the game at Glendale, and still distinguishes herself.
Kristin Zdanczewicz - Flanker, Minnesota Valkyries
A 2010 RWC veteran, Zdanczewicz was one of the top three flankers in the country. She took some time off after the three weeks in England, and since then, the loose-forward field has been replenished. She’s still a great boost off the bench, which is likely her role going forward.
Laura Miller - Lock, Glendale
Miller relocated from D.C. to Glendale, joining the bevy of Eagle forwards who have called Colorado home in recent years. We first heard about Miller when she played a season with the London Saracens, then saw her in action at the 2011 Nations Cup and 2012 Europe tour, but she was left off the summer tests’ rosters.
Lauren Daly - Lock, San Diego
We’ve been watching Daly tear it up as San Diego’s No. 8 as the current WPL season unfolds, but for the Eagles, she’s in the pack. Daly debuted at the 2011 Nations Cup in Canada and was one of a few players whom Steinberg noted for versatility.
Libby Berg - Prop, Minnesota Valkyries
Berg crossed the North American border for her first cap during the 2011 Nations Cup; unfortunately, she was part of that South African upset in which the USA lost 26-23. It doesn’t help that the Valkyries have dropped down to DI from the WPL, but at least she has a couple of RWC hopefuls with whom she can train.
Lynelle Kugler - Flanker, Twin Cities
Kugler is arguably the best rugby player in the USA. She’s a powerhouse center for her own club, and she’s the archetype flanker for which Steinberg seeks. She’s the best of both worlds, combining the toughness and finesse found throughout the rugby field.
Megan Bonny - Center, USA 7s
The recent Washington State graduate is now also a recent USA 7s resident acquisition. Along with teammate Anne Peterson, the Cougar duo debuted during the summer France tests. The series was billed as an opportunity for up-and-coming backs to gain experience, and the young center banked significant playing time in that pursuit.
Mel Denham - Flanker, Beantown
Denham was left off the Nations Cup roster, but more so because the staff knew what the veteran flanker could do on the field. Another 2010 RWC alum, her tenacity is an inspiration for many up-and-coming loose forwards.
Molly Kinsella - Lock, Richmond Lions (England)
Kinsella is another young forward whose rapid progress has impressed Steinberg. A former thrower and Collegiate All American, the public saw a glimpse of that potential during the Nations Cup.
Naima Reddick - Prop, San Francisco Golden Gate
It’s a good thing that the seasoned prop is as good as she is, because Reddick is the only player competing on a DII club for regular season play. That said, the 2010 RWC player is a pro, as demonstrated during the France series this summer.
Nathalie Marchino - Wing/center, Berkeley
Marchino was also recently released from the USA 7s but some of that has to do with eligibility for the Olympics. But she’s a-OK for IRB events! And good thing, because she’s one of the smartest, most savvy players the Eagles can claim
Phoebe Boone - Flanker, Berkeley
It looked as if Boone wasn’t going to get her inaugural cap during the Nations Cup, but then she got the start against South Africa and celebrated with a try. Boone is also an integral part of Berkeley’s championship 7s team - though she didn’t compete this year - so you know the flanker can handle herself in open field.
Rebecca Brafman - Prop/center, New York
Injury has plagued Brafman this past year, and it’s kept her off the touring squads since last fall’s Europe tour. Before then, Steinberg moved the natural center to prop, and we’re eager to see the powerful runner back in play.
Ryan Carlyle - Wing, USA 7s
Carlyle was weighing her playing options as the summer approached, but then an injury opened up a spot on the RWC 7s squad, she joined the USA at the World University Games, and she was called up to the 15s ranks. She has everything you expect in a 7s player, plus a crunching tackle.
Sadie Anderson - Flyhalf/fullback, USA 7s
Anderson is only 23 years old, but considering how long she’s been playing for the USA, she might as well be a veteran. Flyhalf looks better on her - she’s got a good clearing kick and a nice step - but she has been vulnerable on defense. That said, she is in the best situation possible to work on her game: OTC in Chula Vista.
Sam Pankey - Flanker/center, James River
James River bumped up to DI this year, and that has allowed their star player, Pankey, face better competition in the form of NOVA and Philadelphia, namely. Pankey earned her first cap in 2011 at center, but she’s been getting in reps at flanker, too, so it’ll be interesting to see where she fits in.
Sarah Chobot - Prop, Glendale
There was a time when Chobot was wearing the red, white and blue for the 7s team, but 15s and prop are her true callings. The last couple of years have seen the front row really establish herself, and she was rewarded with two tries against Canada during Nations Cup.
Sarah Walsh - Lock, Berkeley
Walsh is one of three (not counting Potter) Eagle pool players who didn’t make the 2010 RWC squad, but she’s stayed in the mix and played admirably during the summer. Working with Berkeley teammate and lock Emily Van Gulik over the next year can only help her chances of making the 2014 team.
Sarah Wilson - Prop, Glendale
We’re particularly fond of Wilson in the front row. At 29 years old, she’s fit and plays a great support game. She needed to bank more experience and did just that over the last year, and we’re seeing the results during the WPL season.
Shaina Turley - No. 8/flanker, San Diego
“Captain America,” as she’s affectionately known, is an apt description of the Marine-cum-USA captain. Turley, Kugler, Potter, Bridges - they’re the hallmark of the imposing yet agile flankers for which Steinberg’s searching.
Sharon Blaney - Lock, ORSU
Of all the second rows, Blaney is certainly the most experienced. She left Beantown for Portland, Ore., but hasn’t left behind her influence on a successful scrum. We also like how willing and able she is to insert into the backline - she’s got great hands.
Stacey Bridges - Flanker, Twin Cities
Bridges was the youngest player on the 2010 RWC roster and banked her playing at lock. Since then, she’s found a better home at flanker. A ruthless, punishing player, she also brings a 7s touch, having competed with the Youngbloodz and showcasing her abilities in the open field.
Sylvia Braaten - Center, Twin Cities
Braaten is another one whose injuries kept her out of rotation for a while, but she looked sharp in her return last summer. She’s mixed in with the 7s team, too, although not quite making it to the senior team but getting a good look on the representative sides.
Tess Kohanski - Hooker, Beantown
A conflict kept Kohanski off the tour to Europe last fall, but the Beantown hooker has made it to all of the assemblies since and remains in contention. She’s untested, like many of her younger counterparts, on the international stage, so her road to the RWC roster is more difficult.