The TikTok superstar is equally impactful on the rugby field

Who is Ilona Maher: Ten things you should know about the USA international

Ilona Maher is a rugby and internet sensation.

An imposing runner and defender for USA in sevens and XVs, she achieved global fame with her viral TikToks from the Olympic village.

Ten things you should know about Ilona Maher

1. Ilona Maher was born on 12 August 1996 in Burlington, Vermont. Her father played rugby for nearby Saint Michael’s College.

2. She played hockey, basketball and football in her youth before focusing on rugby during her college years – initially at Norwich University and later Quinnipiac University.

3. She won three National Intercollegiate Rugby Association titles with Quinnipiac and, in 2017, won the MA Sorenson Award, given to the best women’s college rugby player.

4. Maher made her USA debut at the France Sevens in the 2017/18 season, with the Eagles finishing fifth. Her role grew during the 2018/19 World Sevens Series, as she scored 14 tries and helped USA finish second – an all-time high.

5. She played at the 2018 Sevens World Cup in San Francisco, where the host nation finished fourth after losing a tight semi-final to eventual champions New Zealand.

6. Maher played at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, scoring three tries as USA finished sixth.

7. She made her USA XVs debut off the bench against Canada in November 2021, before making her first start on the wing later that month.

8. She rose to TikTok fame during her time in Tokyo. Her behind-the-scenes videos in the Olympic village and short sketches using internet trends racked up millions of views.

With Covid-19 measures minimising physical contact with other athletes and fans, Maher become a quintessential Olympic superstar of the digital age.

9. Maher holds a degree in Nursing and a master’s degree in Business Administration and Management.

10. She impressed on USA’s return to the Sevens Series in 2022, notching 15 tries in her first five tournaments and showcasing impeccable defence.

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