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Premier Rugby Sevens

Premier Rugby Sevens
SportRugby sevens
Instituted2020
Inaugural season2021
Number of teams16 (8 Men's and 8 Women's Teams)
CountryUnited States (USA Rugby)
Current ChampionsRocky Mountain Experts (United)
SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads (Men's)
Northern Loonies (Women's)
Most titlesMen's: SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads (2)
Women's: Northern Loonies (2)
Websiteprsevens.com
Broadcast partner

Premier Rugby Sevens (PR7s) is the top annual North American men's and women's rugby sevens competition. The competition follows a touring model and involves 16 teams (8 men's and 8 women's teams) competing against each other across the country. The league was founded in 2021[2] and is officially sanctioned by USA Rugby as the highest level of rugby sevens in the United States.[3]

The League is the first professional rugby union competition in North America to offer contracts to women.[4]

History

Premier Rugby Sevens was launched in 2021 by CEO and Founder Owen Scannell.[5] Former USA Men's XV head coach Mike Tolkin joined the league in 2021 as general manager.[6] In May 2021, the league announced 10 ambassadors from the USA Men's and Women's Rugby Sevens teams would join, including Perry Baker, Naya Tapper, Alev Kelter, Danny Barrett, Folau Niua, Stephen Tomasin, Kevon Williams, Abby Gustaitis, Ilona Maher and Carlin Isles.[7][8][9] Neither Maher nor Isles would compete in 2021. In August 2021, USA Rugby announced that the league would be officially sanctioned as the highest level of rugby sevens in the United States.[3]

2021

The league's Inaugural Championship took place at AutoZone Park in Memphis, Tennessee, on October 9, 2021.[10][11] The League initially began with 10 teams with 6 men's and 4 women's teams.[5] The Experts, Loggerheads, Loonies and Headliners would have a men's team and women's team competing in the two separate tournaments while the Locals and Team would play with only a men's team entered into the competition.

The women's Loonies coached by Olympian Kelly Griffin won the women's tournament, with standout play from Alev Kelter and tournament MVP and Canadian international Delaney Aikens.[12] The men's Experts won the Inaugural Championships behind performances from Perry Baker and tournament MVP Logan Tago.[12] Tago would go on to receive his first USA cap shortly after.[13] The men's final was notably in that it was decided by a drop goal contest with a similar format to association football.[12]

2022

The competition scaled to a three stop circuit in 2022, with tournaments held in San Jose, California, at PayPal Park, Washington, D.C., at Audi Field, and the 2022 Championship at Q2 Stadium.[14] The League scaled back to include only the men's and women's teams, with the Team and Locals removed from competition.[15] The parity between men's and women's teams led to the adoption of nomenclature of "franchises" with each franchise having a men's and women's team. The franchises would then compete for a United Championship which combined the results of the two competitions.

The Headliners were the first United Champions and won the Kathy Flores Women's Championship while the Loggerheads won the A. Jon Prusmack Men's Championship. Notable players appearing in 2022 included All Black Sevens star Brady Rush,[16] USA Rugby Stars Alena Olsen, Martin Iosefo, Matai Leuta and Madison Hughes.[17]

Expansion

2023

The League announced in December 2022 that in 2023 it would expand into a conference structure and play a five-tournament circuit. Franchises would be split between the Eastern and Western Conferences, with tournaments alternating play each week between the two conferences.[18] Each conference plays two weekends, with the top two men's and women's teams from each conference qualifying for the Championship weekend. Additionally, the 2023 expansion added regional names to the teams for the first time in league history.[19] The rebranded Texas Team and New York Locals would rejoin the men's competition, and add women's teams for the first time. Additionally, the league announced that the Golden State Retrievers[20] and the Pittsburgh Steeltoes[21] would join the league as expansion franchises.

On May 2, New Zealand Black Ferns star Ruby Tui announced that she had signed for the 2023 competition alongside her return to the Black Ferns Sevens team.[22][23] The All Blacks subsequently announced that other New Zealand stars Stacey Waaka, Kelsey Teneti, Tysha Ikenasio, Manaia Nuku, Rhodes Featherstone and Kitiona Vai would also be competing.[24][25] Teneti would ultimately not compete due to injury and would be replaced by Alena Saili.[26]

For the Eastern Conference, the Kickoff Weekend took place at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas with the Conference Final held at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Western Conference opened at TCO Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while the Conference Final took place at PayPal Park in San Jose. The Championship was held at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.[27] The Pittsburgh and Minneapolis events were the first ever professional rugby events in those cities.[28]

The Northern Loonies would win the women's championship while the Rhinos x SoCal Loggerheads would win the men's. The Rocky Mountain Experts would win the United Championship by virtue of being the only franchise to have both the men's and women's teams qualify for the Championship tournament.[29]

2023 PR7s Women's Tournament Results
Tournament / Finish 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Eastern Conference Kickoff[30] Southern Headliners New York Locals Pittsburgh Steeltoes Texas Team
Western Conference Kickoff[31] Northern Loonies Golden State Retrievers Rhinos x SoCal Loggerheads Rocky Mountain Experts
Western Conference Finals[32] Rocky Mountain Experts Northern Loonies Golden State Retrievers Rhinos x SoCal Loggerheads
Eastern Conference Finals[33] Southern Headliners New York Locals Texas Team Pittsburgh Steeltoes
Championship[34] Northern Loonies New York Locals Rocky Mountain Experts Southern Headliners
2023 PR7s Men's Tournament Results
Tournament / Finish 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Eastern Conference Kickoff[30] Texas Team New York Locals Pittsburgh Steeltoes Southern Headliners
Western Conference Kickoff[31] Rocky Mountain Experts Golden State Retrievers Northern Loonies Rhinos x SoCal Loggerheads
Western Conference Finals[32] Rhinos x SoCal Loggerheads Rocky Mountain Experts Northern Loonies Golden State Retrievers
Eastern Conference Finals[33] Pittsburgh Steeltoes Southern Headliners New York Locals Texas Team
Championship[34]` Rhinos x SoCal Loggerheads Pittsburgh Steeltoes Texas Team Rocky Mountain Experts

Competitive Format

The league has played single day tournaments since inception, with men's and women's matches interchanging throughout the day. In the 2021 and 2022 seasons, all teams in the league would be onsite and play group stage matches with results determining participants in the final. The 2022 season had the first two tournaments determine the seeding for the knockout round championship.[35]

In 2023, franchises were split between the Eastern and Western Conferences, with tournaments alternating play each week between the two conferences. Each conference plays two weekends, with the top two men's and women's teams from each conference qualifying for the Championship weekend. The league eliminated group stage play and instead moved to a knockout only format with semifinal matches leading into consolation and finals.[36] Points are allocated based on finish, with the two conference kickoff weekends would award 13, 6, 3, 1 points for 1st through 4th place, respectively while the conference finals would award 19, 11, 5, 2.[37] Teams would also be awarded points for finish in the Championship weekend for purposes of determining the United Championship winner.

PR7s teams

Map

Premier Rugby Sevens is located in the US
New York Locals
New York Locals
Pittsburgh Steeltoes
Pittsburgh Steeltoes
Southern Headliners
Southern Headliners
Texas Team
Texas Team
Golden State Retrievers
Golden State Retrievers
Northern Loonies
Northern Loonies
Rocky Mountain Experts
Rocky Mountain Experts
Rhinos X SoCal Loggerheads
Rhinos X SoCal Loggerheads
Locations of teams in Premier Rugby Sevens
          Western Conference Teams          Eastern Conference Teams

Current teams

Conference Team Metro Area Joined
Western Golden State Retrievers San Jose, California 2023
Northern Loonies Minneapolis, Minnesota 2021
Rocky Mountain Experts Salt Lake City, Utah 2021
Rhinos X SoCal Loggerheads Los Angeles, California 2021
Eastern New York Locals New York, New York 2021
Pittsburgh Steeltoes Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2023
Southern Headliners Memphis, Tennessee 2021
Texas Team Austin, Texas 2021

Timeline

Current Members Former Only Men's Team Former Team Names [38]

Broadcast

United States and Canada

The 2021 championship matches of the tournaments were aired live on FS2[39] in the United States, and TSN in Canada.[40] Preliminary matches were aired on FoxSports.com and TSN.ca.

All matches from the 2022 Championship were aired live on Fubo Sports Network.[41]

In 2023, Fox Sports and CBS Sports televised portions the 2023 Championship season, with live programming on FS1, CBS Sports Network and Tubi.[42] The championship finals were aired live on FS1.

Europe

DAZN would acquire the broadcast rights for Europe in 2023.[43]

Sponsors

Samurai Sportswear has been the official kit and ball supplier since the league began in 2021.[44][45] Samurai has provided the match kits for all teams and referees.

The league has had a data partnership with Sports Info Solutions (SIS) since 2022.[46]

The Loggerheads franchise has been licensed by Rhinos Rugby Academy since 2022.[47] In 2023, the Loggerheads were referred to as the Rhinos x Loggerheads as a part of the licensing agreement.

On the league announced GoodSport as the official hydration partner.[48]

2023 Kit Sponsors
Franchise Sponsor
Rocky Mountain Experts Sperry Rail Service
SoCal Loggerheads Rhinos Rugby Academy
Southern Headliners Kane Innovations
Golden State Retrievers Petaluma[49]
New York Locals None
Texas Team C4 Energy (back)
Northern Loonies GoodSport (back)
Pittsburgh Steeltoes None

League champions

In 2022, the league named its women's and men's championship trophies after Kathy Flores and A. Jon Prusmack, respectively.[50]

Men's Final

Year Final
Champion Score Runner-up Ref.
2021 Experts (3) 19–19 (0) Loggerheads [12]
2022 Loggerheads 32–22 Headliners [51]
2023 SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads 10–5 Pittsburgh Steeltoes [29]

Women's Final

Year Final
Champion Score Runner-up Ref.
2021 Loonies 28–14 Headliners [12]
2022 Headliners 33–7 Loonies [52]
2023 Northern Loonies 21–10 New York Locals [29]

United Championship

Year Champion Ref.
2022 Headliners [53]
2023 Rocky Mountain Experts [29]

Awards and honors

Women's Finals MVP

Men's Finals MVP

Women's Defensive Player of the Year

Men's Defensive Player of the Year

  • 2023: Craig Hunt [56]

Women's Comeback Player of the Year

  • 2023: Neariah "Nene" Weathers[57]

Men's Comeback Player of the Year

Women's Rising Star

  • 2023: Monique Coffey[59]

Men's Rising Star

  • 2023: Chris Aurich[60]

See also

References

  1. ^ "CBS SPORTS, FS1 ADD RUGBY SEVENS TO SUMMER SLATE". 13 April 2023.
  2. ^ "New Professional Rugby Sevens League to Debut in North America". www.sportsbusinessjournal.com. Retrieved 2023-03-20.
  3. ^ a b Cahill, Calder (2021-08-24). "USA Rugby announces sanctioning agreement with Premiere Rugby Sevens as highest level of domestic seven-a-side rugby. | Latest Rugby News | USA Rugby". usa.rugby. Retrieved 2023-03-20.
  4. ^ Pengelly, Martin (2022-03-31). "Premier Rugby Sevens announces events in California, DC and Texas". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-03-20.
  5. ^ a b "Premier Rugby Sevens Unveils Team Names and Logos". Yahoo. Retrieved 2023-02-20.
  6. ^ McCarthy, Matt. "Former Head Coach of USA Rugby Mike Tolkin to Lead Rugby Operations of Premier Rugby Sevens - Rugby Wrap Up". rugbywrapup.com. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  7. ^ "Two More Olympians Join Premier Rugby Sevens | Goff Rugby Report". www.goffrugbyreport.com. 2021-07-08. Retrieved 2023-03-22.
  8. ^ Pengelly, Martin (2021-05-19). "Baker and Tapper among rugby stars set to play for equal pay in US sevens league". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-03-22.
  9. ^ "Discover more about Premier Rugby Sevens and how it provides new horizons for rugby in North America". rugby-network. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  10. ^ Pengelly, Martin (2021-10-08). "Premier Rugby Sevens: Tapper and Baker lend new US league a hand". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-03-20.
  11. ^ "Discover more about Premier Rugby Sevens and how it provides new horizons for rugby in North America". rugby-network. Retrieved 2023-03-20.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "Premier Rugby Sevens crowns inaugural champions". Americas Rugby News. 2021-10-10. Retrieved 2023-02-20.
  13. ^ djcoilrugby (2021-11-17). "USA Men's Rugby Sevens Squad for Dubai". djcoilrugby. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  14. ^ "San Jose to host new rugby league tournament featuring men's and women's games". The Mercury News. 2022-03-31. Retrieved 2023-03-20.
  15. ^ "Audi Field Named Host Stadium for Premier Rugby Sevens in 2022". OurSports Central. 2022-03-31. Retrieved 2023-02-20.
  16. ^ Pengelly, Martin (2022-09-17). "'Growing the audience for rugby': PR7s seeks to seed game in America". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  17. ^ "PR 7s to Hold Open Trials Through Winter | Goff Rugby Report". www.goffrugbyreport.com. 2022-11-22. Retrieved 2023-03-20.
  18. ^ "Premier Rugby Sevens unveils U.S. expansion plan". ESPN. 2022-12-14. Retrieved 2023-03-20.
  19. ^ Caron, Emily (2022-12-13). "Premier Rugby Sevens League Adding Eight Teams for 2023". Sportico.com. Retrieved 2023-03-20.
  20. ^ "'Golden State Retrievers;' Premier Rugby Sevens league expands to San Jose PayPal Park - CBS San Francisco". CBS News. 2023-01-17. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  21. ^ Love, Michael (2023-01-31). "Professional rugby franchises to begin play in Pittsburgh in 2023". TribLIVE.com. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  22. ^ "Black Ferns' Tui joins US-based 7s competition". ESPN. 2023-05-02. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  23. ^ Pengelly, Martin (2023-05-02). "Ruby Tui: New Zealand Black Ferns star to play Premier Rugby Sevens in US". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  24. ^ "Sevens players to take part in Premier Rugby Sevens". allblacks.com. 2023-05-23. Retrieved 2023-05-24.
  25. ^ "More Black Ferns stars headed for Premier Rugby Sevens in US". 1 News. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  26. ^ "Texas Team Rugby". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  27. ^ "Washington, DC and Audi Field to Host Premier Rugby Sevens 2023 Championship Tournament | Events DC". eventsdc.com. Retrieved 2023-04-13.
  28. ^ "Premier Rugby Sevens' Expanded 2023 Season Leads to Record-Breaking Results | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  29. ^ a b c d e f "Women's Northern Loonies and Men's SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads win 2023 Premier Rugby Sevens Championships | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  30. ^ a b "Eastern Conference Kickoff | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  31. ^ a b "Western Conference Kickoff | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  32. ^ a b "Western Conference Finals | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  33. ^ a b "Eastern Conference Finals | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  34. ^ a b "2023 PR7s Championship | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  35. ^ "HOW TO WIN THE PR7'S CHAMPIONSHIP | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  36. ^ Pengelly, Martin (2023-08-05). "'Every moment counts': Abby Gustaitis on Premier Rugby Sevens". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  37. ^ "The Road to the 2023 Championship | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  38. ^ "'Golden State Retrievers;' Premier Rugby Sevens league expands to San Jose PayPal Park". CBS News. Retrieved 2023-02-20.
  39. ^ "Premier Rugby Sevens tournament to air on Fox Sports". smartseries.sportspromedia.com. Retrieved 2023-03-20.
  40. ^ "TSN PARTNERS WITH PREMIER RUGBY SEVENS TO DELIVER INAUGURAL GAMES FOR CANADIAN VIEWERS, OCTOBER 9 - Bell Media". TSN PARTNERS WITH PREMIER RUGBY SEVENS TO DELIVER INAUGURAL GAMES FOR CANADIAN VIEWERS, OCTOBER 9 - Bell Media. Retrieved 2023-03-20.
  41. ^ "Premier Rugby Sevens Adds Fubo Sports Network as Its Newest Distribution Partner | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-03-20.
  42. ^ "CBS Sports, FS1 Add Rugby Sevens to Summer Slate". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved 2023-04-13.
  43. ^ "DAZN acquires Premier Rugby Sevens rights in Europe". SportBusiness. 2023-06-15. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  44. ^ "PR7S PARTNER WITH SAMURAI". SAMURAI. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  45. ^ "Samurai Becomes Official Apparel & Ball Provider for PR7s". SAMURAI. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  46. ^ "Sports Info Solutions Named Official Data Provider for Premier Rugby Sevens". Sports Info Solutions. 2022-10-27. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  47. ^ Caron, Emily (2022-05-26). "Rugby Sevens League Test Drives a New Ownership Model: Leasing". Sportico.com. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  48. ^ "GoodSport® Named Official Sports Drink of Premier Rugby Sevens | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  49. ^ "Petaluma partnering with Premier Rugby". Petfood Industry. 2023-06-23. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  50. ^ "PR7S HONORS TWO AMERICAN RUGBY PIONEERS THROUGH THE NAMING OF THEIR TROPHIES | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  51. ^ "Loggerheads Take Premier Rugby Men's Championship". TTL Sports Media. 2022-07-30. Retrieved 2023-02-20.
  52. ^ "Headliners Take Premier Rugby Sevens Women's Championship". TTL Sports Media. 2022-07-30. Retrieved 2023-02-20.
  53. ^ admin (2023-01-31). "Steeltoes Represent Pittsburgh in 2023 Premier Rugby 7s - The Rugby Breakdown". Retrieved 2023-02-20.
  54. ^ a b "PR7S CROWNS 2022 CHAMPIONS | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-08-10.
  55. ^ "Alev Kelter and Alasio Naduva Win 2023 Premier Rugby Sevens Most Value Player Awards | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-09-27.
  56. ^ "Alev Kelter and Alasio Naduva Win 2023 Premier Rugby Sevens Most Value Player Awards | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-09-27.
  57. ^ "Alev Kelter and Alasio Naduva Win 2023 Premier Rugby Sevens Most Value Player Awards | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-09-27.
  58. ^ "Alev Kelter and Alasio Naduva Win 2023 Premier Rugby Sevens Most Value Player Awards | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-09-27.
  59. ^ "Alev Kelter and Alasio Naduva Win 2023 Premier Rugby Sevens Most Value Player Awards | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-09-27.
  60. ^ "Alev Kelter and Alasio Naduva Win 2023 Premier Rugby Sevens Most Value Player Awards | Premier Rugby Sevens". www.prsevens.com. Retrieved 2023-09-27.
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Premier Rugby Sevens
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