Unleashing Potential: Insights from PR7s Talent ID Trials

The PR7s Talent ID camps are a platform for men and women athletes to showcase their skills. With the next Talent ID Trials set for Kansas City on January 28, we checked in with Premier Rugby Sevens General Manager Mike Tolkin about how the first one went in Pittsburgh.

Tolkin acknowledges any tryout can be daunting, especially for players from less prominent clubs or crossing over from another sport. He advises, “Give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose. Come out, see where you stand, and at the very least, you’ll learn something.” 

Tolkin’s encouragement is crucial for players doubting their capabilities or fearing they don’t belong.

The Essence of the Camp

The ID camp’s structure is straightforward yet effective. Players engage in a range of activities, from 10-meter and 40-meter sprints to passing and running drills, culminating in actual gameplay. 

“We wanted them to play as much as possible,” said Tolkin. “A player can be a great athlete, but they’ve also got to be able to play in a team environment. They need to understand how their strengths can shine and help a team succeed.”

Progress and Performance in Pittsburgh

Tolkin said the quality of players at the ID Camp in Pittsburgh in December was significantly stronger than in 2022.

“The players came with the speed and agility we were looking for in the game, and that was encouraging,” Tolkin explained. “We want players to have the confidence to go one-on-one. Look, if you think you can take on a defender, do it. We want to see that.” Fitness remains something that any player can control. 

“We encourage players to be as fit as they can be,” said Tolkin, which, in translation, means that the players in Pittsburgh probably could have been better on that front.

Identifying and Nurturing Talent

Coach Kerri Heffernan is working closely with USA Women’s 7s Head Coach Emilie Bydwell to push for crossover athletes in the women’s game. A handful of players were identified in Pittsburgh as potential PR7s players, but players who don’t get a callback shouldn’t be discouraged.

“Everyone has their strengths,” said Tolkin. “We understand; it’s a single day, you don’t know your teammates. You’re trying to show your potential, and I think what players have to remember is that if you don’t do well on one metric, keep at it, keep trying to show what you can do.”

Everyone who attends a PR7s Talent ID Trial is in the pool of players, and their data is recorded. Players who stand out immediately get a call, but sometimes improvement over time can move a player up.

“We had an athlete last year who came to every single camp,” said Tolkin. “We get players who go to multiple camps and eventually get picked. There’s no doubt you see players brimming with quiet confidence and come in basically saying ‘I know my business.’ They’re great. But the players who keep coming and showing improvement and the desire to take the opportunity, that works too.”

A Final Word of Wisdom

Tolkin’s ultimate advice for aspiring rugby players is clear: “You have to want it. Come prepared and ready to work with others. Treat this as a potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and act accordingly.” 

A focused and determined mindset is crucial for players seeking to make the most of the PR7s Talent ID Trials and their rugby careers.