Whitefish’s Heavirland and Team USA Advance to Olympic Quarterfinals

Nicole Heavirland and the USA Eagles are 2-0 in rugby sevens pool play and will advance to quarterfinals

Team USA co-captain Nicole Heavirland during a training session prior to the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series on May 10, 2019. Mike Lee | KLC Fotos

The USA Eagles defeated Japan 17-7 in their second game of pool play July 29, 2021 at the Tokyo Olympics in women’s rugby sevens. 

With the win, they are 2-0 in Pool C consisting of China, Japan, Australia and the United States. They defeated China 28-14 in their tournament opener.

Going with a different lineup in their second game to start, the U.S. jumped out to a 10-0 halftime lead. Ilona Maher and Jordan Matyas scored one try apiece to give the Eagles the lead against the host nation.

Whitefish’s Nicole Heavirland was inserted at halftime. With five minutes remaining, the U.S.A.’s Kristi Kirshe broke away before passing it off to rookie Ariana Ramsey to score her first try. Heavirland added the conversion for two points.

Japan scored seven points in the final minute to bring the final to 17-7.

In their final pool play game, the U.S. and defending Olympic champions Australia will face off.

The Americans finished fifth in the inaugural Olympic women’s rugby sevens tournament in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. By making it to the quarterfinals, they will have an opportunity to take another step in this tournament.

The quarterfinal rounds will take place the afternoon of July 30, 2021.

Heavirland, Team USA Open Pool Play with Win Over China

Whitefish’s Nicole Heavirland and her United States teammates opened pool play of the Olympic women’s rugby sevens tournament in Tokyo on July 29 with a 28-14 defeat of China.

Heavirland, who traveled to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as an alternate, got her first experience as an Olympian wearing No. 4 and starting for the U.S..

China scored the first try and took a 7-0 lead midway through the first half, but USA’s Kristen Thomas evened the score at 7-7 before half.

Consecutive Kristi Kirshe tries in the second half and the subsequent conversions gave the U.S. a 21-7 lead. Kayla Canett tacked on another try and conversion in the final minute for a 28-7 score.

As time expired, China scored one last time to get to 28-14.

Heavirland finished with four of the U.S. points going 2 for 2 on conversions.

The Eagles are in Pool C with China, Japan and defending champions Australia. It is just the second time that women have competed in rugby at the Olympics. 

The tournament in Tokyo includes eight other teams: New Zealand, Great Britain, Kenya, Canada, France, Fiji, Brazil and the Russian Olympic Committee (Russia is still banned by WADA from competing under their own banner).

Heavirland and the Eagles qualified directly for the Olympics by finishing runner-up in the 2019 Rugby Sevens Series and medaling in five of the six rounds. Teams were placed into pools according to rankings based on HSBC World Rugby Sevens series and other World Rugby-sanctioned tournaments over the previous two years. 

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