The U.S. women’s rugby sevens team roared back from a first-half deficit against France with a dominating performance in the second to win the bronze medal on Sunday at the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series tournament in Kitakyushu, Japan.
Olympian Lauren Doyle and Naya Tapper each scored two tries in the 36-12 bronze-medal match victory. It marked the second bronze medal in a row for the U.S., which has reached the podium in three out of four stops on the series this season. The U.S. is the only country to finish top-four at each of this season’s stops.
This marks the first season in which the U.S. has reached three podiums, and the timing couldn’t be better. With two tournaments remaining, the U.S. is in third place in the overall standings with 64 points, just two back from Canada and eight ahead of Australia. The top four teams at the end of the season will automatically qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
France jumped out to an early lead in Sunday’s bronze-medal match, but Doyle’s first try of the match evened things up at 12-12 heading into halftime. The second half was where the U.S. turned it on. When Doyle scored her second try of the game late in the second half it ended a run of 31 unanswered points by the U.S.
Ilona Maher and Kristi Kirshe, who came off the bench, also scored for the U.S. in the victory. Alev Kelter, a 2016 Olympian, was named to the HSBC Dream Team.
In reaching the final, the U.S. swept through the three pool matches for the first time in a tournament since 2017, and then beat top-ranked New Zealand in the quarterfinals. A loss to eventual champion Canada in the semifinals sent the U.S. into the bronze-medal match.