Alev Kelter and Alasio Naduva Win 2023 Premier Rugby Sevens Most Value Player Awards

(NEW YORK, Sept.20, 2023) Premier Rugby Sevens (PR7s) confirmed its individual season awards following its expanded format that saw over 200 players, including 28 Olympians, compete for 16 teams in 40 matches in 2023. Alev Kelter of the women’s Northern Loonies and Alasio Naduva of the men’s New York Locals earned top accolades as the 2023 PR7s MVPs. Kelter also led her team to the 2023 Women’s Championship. PR7s recognized eight total players, including three additional categories:

Comeback Player of the Year

  • Ben Pinkelman – Men’s Pittsburgh Steeltoes
  • Nene Weathers – Women’s New York Locals

Defensive Player of the Year

  • Craig Hunt – Men’s Texas Team 
  • Manaia Nuku – Women’s New York Locals

Rising Star Award

  • Chris Aurich – Men’s Texas Team
  • Monique Coffey – Women’s Southern Headliners

“The competition on the field throughout this season was elevated to another level with more top-tiered players from around the world joining our league,” said Owen Scannell, CEO of Premier Rugby Sevens. “Our athletes played with heart and skill as they battled every moment in close games. Our fans were on the edge of their seats as 70% of the matches came down to the final possession or were decided within one score. Congratulations to all our award winners and 2023 champions for a fantastic season. We are looking forward to 2024.”

Pinkelman proved to be the Men’s Comeback Player of the Year after overcoming an injury that previously sidelined him for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. He was a leader on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Rugby Sevens team in Rio. In addition to being named the Comeback Player of the Year, Pinkelman was deemed a 2023 MVP finalist after recording 10 points, eight carries, and seven steals throughout the season.

Nene was the Women’s Comeback Player of the Year following the birth of her first child. Her son traveled with her to PR7s’ tournaments throughout the season.

Player of the Tournament awards were also given out in the men’s and women’s competitions during the 2023 season for outstanding play at individual tournaments. Those awards went to:

PR7s Championship Tournament in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 6:

  • Branco du Preez – Men’s SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads
  • Alev Kelter – Women’s Northern Loonies

Eastern Conference Finals Players of the Tournament in Pittsburgh on July 23: 

  • Ben Pinkelman – Men’s Pittsburgh Steeltoes
  • Abby Gustaitis – Women’s Southern Headliners

Western Conference Finals Players of the Tournament in San Jose on July 15:

  • Iowane Teba – Men’s SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads
  • Chiharu Nakamura – Women’s Rocky Mountain Experts

Western Conference Kickoff Players of the Tournament in Minneapolis on June 24:

  • Jacques Odendaal – Men’s Rocky Mountain Experts
  • Renee Gonzalez – Women’s Northern Loonies

Eastern Conference Kickoff Players of the Tournament in Austin on June 17:

  • Chris Aurich – Men’s Texas Team
  • Magali Harvey – Women’s Southern Headliners

PR7s 2023 MVP Runner-ups:

  • Naya Tapper – Southern Headliners
  • Stacey Waaka – New York Locals
  • Iowane Teba – Men’s SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads
  • Ben Pinkelman – Men’s Steeltoes

PR7s award winners from previous seasons:

  • 2021 Men’s MVP: Logan Tago – Rocky Mountain Experts 
  • 2021 Women’s MVP: Delaney Aikens – Northern Loonies
  • 2022 Men’s MVP: Brock Ian Gallagher – SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads  
  • 2022 Women’s MVP: Grace Kukutai – Southern Headliners 

PR7s is the first league with women’s and men’s teams competing under one umbrella with equal pay. The 2023 PR7s Championship aired live on FS1 and was the culmination of a season-long competition with eight franchises and 16 teams competing in regular-season tournaments. In the women’s competition, the Northern Loonies defeated the New York Locals in the 2023 Championship Final to take home the Kathy Flores Cup, the top women’s prize. On the men’s side, the SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads defeated the Pittsburgh Steeltoes in this year’s final to earn the A. Jon Prusmack Cup, the men’s top prize. The Rocky Mountain Experts took home the 2023 United Championship, which combines point totals for the men’s and women’s teams. 

The 2023 PR7s rosters featured many players with Olympic experience, including Olympic Gold Medalists Ruby Tui (women’s Golden State Retrievers via New Zealand), Stacey Waaka (women’s New York Locals via New Zealand), Alena Saili (women’s Texas Team via New Zealand), and Waisea Nacuqu (men’s SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads via Fiji), Olympic Silver Medalist Dan Norton (men’s Northern Loonies via Great Britain), and Olympic Bronze Medalists Kayla Moleshi (women’s Northern Loonies via Canada), Reapi Uluinasau (women’s SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads via Fiji), and Ana Naimasi (women’s SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads via Fiji). 

Team USA Olympians who competed for PR7s in 2023 included current USA Rugby Women’s Captain Naya Tapper (women’s Southern Headliners), Kayla Canett (women’s Pittsburgh Steeltoes), Abby Gustaitis (women’s Southern Headliners), Kathryn Johnson (women’s Rocky Mountain Experts), Matai Leuta (men’s SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads), Alev Kelter (women’s Northern Loonies), Madison Hughes (men’s Rocky Mountain Experts), Cody Melphy (men’s New York Locals), Kris Thomas (women’s Texas Team), Ben Pinkelman (men’s Pittsburgh Steeltoes), Ariana Ramsey (women’s Rocky Mountain Experts), Naima Fualaau (men’s Rocky Mountain Experts). Kelly Griffin, a 2016 Team USA Olympian, was also part of the organization as the head coach of the women’s Golden State Retrievers.

Other Olympic athletes who participated in the 2023 PR7s season included Chiharu Nakamura (women’s Rocky Mountain Experts via Japan), Alasio Naduva (men’s New York Locals via Fiji), Branco du Preez (men’s SoCal Rhinos x Loggerheads via South Africa), Bianca Silva ( via Brazil), Luisa Campos ( via Brazil), Rafaela Zanellato ( via Brazil), and Mariana Nicolau ( via Brazil).

About Premier Rugby Sevens

Premier Rugby Sevens (PR7s), the highest professional level of rugby sevens in the United States and a proud partner of USA Rugby, is a revolutionary circuit showcasing the most electric men’s and women’s athletes on the planet. PR7s brings the global excitement of rugby through a fast-paced, high-scoring on-field experience, complemented by engaging fan festivals throughout North America. As a traveling circuit with a focus on North America, PR7s is the fastest, toughest, and most electrifying game on the planet and the first sports organization of its kind, with men’s and women’s teams competing under one umbrella with equal pay. To learn more about Premier Rugby Sevens, go to and follow the league on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.