Pittsburgh Steeltoes Host Talent ID Trial with Insight from PR7s General Manager Mike Tolkin

CORAOPOLIS, Pa. — The Pittsburgh Steeltoes of Premier Rugby Sevens (PR7s) are gearing up to host a Talent Identification Trial this weekend at AHN Montour Junction Sports Complex, 2419 State Ave. PR7s General Manager Mike Tolkin, along with Head of Scouting Richie Walker and various coaches and players from PR7s teams, will oversee the event, aiming to uncover rugby talent and athletes from other sports.

The Steeltoes tryout, the first in a series of nationwide ID Trials, will focus on evaluating both seasoned rugby players and newcomers to the sport. 

“From the experienced players, we are looking to see if they can perform the basic skills very well—passing, tackling, support, and tackle area work,” Tolkin, who coached the USA Men’s 15s team from 2012 through 2015, said. “And work hard—that is always the cornerstone of successful players, no matter your experience.”

Tolkin emphasized the importance of fitness and standout qualities such as explosive athleticism, superior footwork, aerial ability, speed, and power. High work rate, involvement in multiple tackles and rucks, and quick recovery to rejoin the play are also crucial criteria.

“People who show strongly in these areas will get serious consideration, and these athletic categories are the areas where crossover athletes can excel and show their potential,” Tolkin explained.

The event will follow a structured yet flexible schedule:

  • Warm-up
  • Metric measurements – 10 & 40m sprint, broad jump, 5-10-5 agility
  • Skill stations – 1 v 1 footwork, passing accuracy, 1 v 1/2 v 2 tackle & ruck
  • Live games – 6 to 12, 7-minute halves of rotating matches (pre-selected squads)

The trials will assess both measurable and subjective abilities, focusing on work rate, teamwork, and game understanding. 

“The metrics and skills get us interested in individuals who do well there, but don’t tell the full story, the games show the true athletes and playmakers,” Tolkin stated. “So it’s really a full process.”

Tolkin also encourages athletes new to rugby, citing successful transitions by players like Alev KelterPerry BakerRuby Tui, and Kevon Williams from other sports. He stresses the importance of confidence, hard work, and a genuine commitment to the sport.

“We want to see players who are confident in themselves and while not being the final product, great athletes who want to make a serious attempt at this. Those are the players we’re interested in,” Tolkin said. He also reminded participants that enjoyment is a key aspect of the process.

The Talent ID Trials and Youth Clinic will take place on December 9. Interested participants 18 and older can register at prsevens.com/talent. Parents can sign up their children (grades 1st to 8th) for the youth clinic at form.jotform.com.

Event Schedule for Saturday, Dec. 9:

  • 8:30 a.m. — Youth Registration
  • 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. — Youth Clinic
  • 9:45 a.m. — Men’s Registration
  • 10:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. — Men’s Trials
  • 1:00 p.m. — Women’s Registration
  • 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. — Women’s Trials