Team USA Falls in the Olympic Rugby Sevens Quarterfinals

Whitefish's Nicole Heavirland and Team USA will not compete for a rugby medal in the Tokyo Olympic Games after falling to Great Britain

Nicole Heavirland, co-captain of the United States women’s national rugby team, poses for a portrait at Smith Fields in Whitefish on July 31, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

After a delay due to thunderstorms, the USA Eagles and Whitefish’s Nicole Heavirland faced Great Britain in the quarterfinals of the women’s rugby sevens tournament at the Tokyo Olympics where their medal hopes ended in a 21-12 loss reports

Great Britain scored less than a minute into the match and had jumped out to a 14-0 lead by halftime while also preventing the U.S. from advancing more than halfway up the pitch. They scored again shortly after halftime to go up 21-0.

Midway through the second half, the U.S. made enough progress to move up the pitch and Kristi Kirshe scored a try with two and a half minutes left to make it a 21-5. On the final possession as time expired, Naya Tapper scored a try for the U.S. and Heavirland converted to make the final score 21-12.

Jasmine Joyce scored two tries for Great Britain, Abbie Brown added another and Holly Atchinson converted three.

Great Britain will advance to the semifinal round to face France. On the other side of the bracket, New Zealand and Fiji will face off in the other semifinal for seeding into the medal rounds with three of the pre-tournament favorites being upset earlier.

With the loss, the U.S. will drop into playing for fifth through eighth place and will not play for a medal. They finished fifth in the 2016 Olympics in Rio and had been hoping to better that finish.

In Tokyo, the Eagles went 3-0 in Pool C to start the tournament with an emotional victory earlier in the day over defending champions Australia (14-12), and hosts Japan (17-7) and China (28-14) the day before.

Heavirland and U.S. Win Pool C of Tokyo Rugby Sevens Tournament, Defeat Olympic Champions Australia

The U.S. Eagles defeated Australia, the defending Olympic champions, 14-12 in the final game of the pool play portion of the Tokyo Olympics women’s rugby sevens tournament at Tokyo Stadium. They finish pool play undefeated 3-0.

But after falling behind 12-0, the U.S. had to come back in the second half as they found a way to win Pool C and earn its top seed into the medal rounds.

Cheta Emba started the comeback with a try with just over four minutes remaining, but captain Abby Gustaitis’ try with under three minutes left brought the Eagles back even with Australia. Whitefish’s Nicole Heavirland converted on both tries to earn four points, including the deciding margin.

Both teams will advance to the quarterfinals by virtue of their top two finish in pool C (which also included China and host Japan). The U.S. defeated both yesterday 28-14 (China) and 17-7 (Japan).

The U.S. is aiming to improve on a fifth-place finish from the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

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