Sevens stars sign on for new pro league
NEWS: Perry Baker, a two-time World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, headlines a string of top-flight recruits to the new Premier Rugby Sevens pro league set to debut later this year.
The PR7s will launch with a pilot season and is expected to eventually feature six men’s teams and four women’s teams, paying men and women equally as they compete under one league umbrella, organizers said in a statement on Wednesday.
The league will operate on a touring format in cities across the United States and Canada, where each stop will feature multiple matches.
Venues will be announced at a later date, along with other details including team names and tryout information.
But Baker is just one of the stars who are to feature in the pilot season, which has also attracted Carlin Isles, Danny Barrett, Stephen Tomasin and Folau Niua.
On the women’s side, US internationals Abby Gustaitis, Ilona Maher and Naya Tapper have signed.
The league is the brainchild of Owen Scannell, a former investment banker who played rugby at Dartmouth University and served as director of operations for Major League Rugby’s New England Free Jacks.
“Rugby Sevens is the most exhilarating sport in the world and perfect for the next generation of young fans,” Scannell said of the fast-paced version of the game that brought rugby back to the Olympics in 2016.
“Sevens is extremely accessible and enjoyable for new North American fans and players. Our goal is to entertain fans through high-quality digital content, and unforgettable festival experiences in attractive North American destinations and markets.”
Mike Tolkin, who coached the US men at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, is the league’s general manager.
“Sevens is a fast-paced and dynamic game requiring skill, speed, power, and precision,” Tolkin said. “The US teams have enjoyed great success on the world stage against international competition, and PR7s is a great opportunity to continue to grow that talent pool.”