U.S. Women Capture Bronze In World Rugby Sevens Series Opener

by Bob Reinert

Jaz Gray runs away from a tackle in the Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 on Sept. 09, 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa.


The U.S. women defeated France 21-19 on Saturday to win the bronze medal at their season-opening World Rugby Sevens Series event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, taking their first step toward qualifying for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.


The American men also advanced to the bronze-medal match but lost 31-12 to New Zealand.


The top four teams in both the women’s and men’s series at the end of the season in May will secure Olympic berths. This weekend’s result puts the U.S. women third in their standings. The U.S. men, who opened their Sevens Series last month, are currently sixth.


After going 2-1 in pool play on Friday, the American women beat Ireland 5-0 in the quarterfinals Saturday before falling to New Zealand 36-0 in the semifinals. That set up the bronze-medal game against France.


The U.S. jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first minute on a try by 2020 Olympian Naya Tapper and a conversion from Kayla Canett. However, France struck back with a pair of tries and a conversion and led 12-7 in the fifth minute.


Tries by Cheta Emba and Kris Thomas, and conversions by Canett and Nicole Heavirland, put the U.S. back in front, 21-12. A late try and conversion by France narrowed the gap. But, the Americans held on to earn their first Sevens Series medal in 10 months.


Emba, Thomas, Canett and Heavirland were all on the 2020 Olympic team.


Australia, the defending Seven Series champion, won the women’s gold medal with a 26-19 win over New Zealand in the final.


The U.S. men took an early 5-0 lead against New Zealand on a try in the second minute by Marcus Tupuola. However, New Zealand answered with three tries and three conversions in the first 11 minutes. The only other U.S. points came on a try in the eighth minute by Ben Broselle and a conversion by 2020 Olympian Steve Tomasin.


After going undefeated in pool play, the U.S. men reached the semifinals with a 24-19 victory over Australia in the quarterfinals, but then lost to Ireland 12-7 in the semifinals.


South Africa claimed the men’s gold medal for the fourth straight year, defeating Ireland 21-5.

Bob Reinert spent 17 years writing sports for The Boston Globe. He also served as a sports information director at Saint Anselm College and Phillips Exeter Academy. He is a contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.