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Royce making up for lost time

Ahead of the World Cup which kicks off on August 20th, Sophia Papadopoulos spoke to USA women's rugby flanker Beckett Royce who will be making her debut World Cup appearance this summer at the age of 39.

(Image - Beckett gets to grips with England's Kat Merchant)

The USA kicks off their World Cup campaign in a month- how is the mood in the camp?

"Everyone is very excited and focused. Training sessions have been both hard and incredibly productive. We're able to work on many technical aspects that we just haven't had time for in previous camps. Our fitness and ambition are apparentas the intensity at trainings has been full throttle.All in all, team morale is very high."

Kazakhstan is a key game for you- what are you expecting from them?

"We're expecting a very physical match. They have big forwards that like to crash the ball off the fringes. Kazakhstan has been the reigning Asian champion for over a decade, so they know how to win matches. They always start strong, often scoring within minutes of the kickoff or half. We know we'll be up against a very tough opponent who will be fighting not only for victory but for national pride."

It's your first time at the World Cup- are you excited and looking forward to it?

"This is my first World Cup and of course I am thrilled to be going. I didn't start playing rugby until I was in my 30's... 32 to be exact. The National Team was not even on my radar then. I hadn't played any sports competitively since high school! So for me to have the honor of being an Eagle, let alone to achieve the paragon of a World Cup squad, is more than incredible, it really sometimes seems impossible to me. But here I am, and I am enjoying every hard, exhausting, intense minute of it. Not a day goes by when I do not realize how lucky I am to be playing with such an incredible group of women. There is such great talent and camaraderie on this team. I absolutely love being a part of it."

You have a pretty tough group stage- how do you rate your chances?

"Honestly I think our chances are quite good. Our schedule really couldn't have been better since we play the lowest ranked team first and the highest last. Not that we can overlook any of our matches... the World Cup is a whole different animal than other tournaments. Anything can happen. And we expect to be one of those unexpecteds. I think psychologically, if nothing else, having England be our last match in the group phase is really to our benefit. It would be a hard way to start a tournament having to face them first. What is key for us is to just keep our heads in the game we are playing and problem-solve as we go. We certainly have the skills and the athletic ability to make this a very successful campaign."

The squad is getting together three weeks before heading to the UK, in just a few days- are you looking forward to spending some time with the other girls?

"It's a wonderful opportunity for us and one that past World Cup squads haven't had. I think the time we share both on and off the training field in these few weeks will really solidify us as a unit. We all get along very well and it seems the more time we spend together the more we realize it, that our interactions aren't out of a necessary politeness but come from genuine affection and the bond of a shared struggle towards a shared goal."

Any plans to enjoy your time in the UK? Sightseeing, etc..

"I really have no plans for sightseeing. We don't have much time off and the time we do have off I'll spend resting. I've been to the UK a few times before both with the WNT and on my own so I've already done the obligatory tourist activities. Really my one and only focus will be the World Cup and keeping my body rested and healthy for every game."

What has been your best moment in rugby so far?

"I guess my best moment was when I found out I made the WC squad. All the other moments just led up to that one. I trust though that my best rugby moment is yet to come."

Do you play any other sports?

"I grew up playing them all. Soccer, basketball, softball and I rode horses competitively. Once I left high school though, way back in 1989, I pretty much stopped all of that and got involved in far less healthy kinds of recreation. I have on occasion over the years played some very low-key city league soccer, but nothing competitive."

Tell us something interesting about you?

I've lived in 11 different states, 2 countries, 15 different cities/towns over the course of my life. I used to event horses (dressage, cross country, stadium jumping) I majored in Theater at the University of Virginia My name comes from my favorite playwright, Samuel Beckett. My favorite kinds of music are classic jazz and contemporary metal.

What song do you listen to before a game?

"Take your best shot"by Dope