(NEW YORK, May 19, 2021) Premier Rugby Sevens (PR7s), North America’s newest sports league scheduled to debut this fall, signed the league’s first players according to PR7s General Manager Mike Tolkin. The announcement includes several stars from the United States Men’s and Women’s National Sevens Teams, including two-time World Rugby Player of the Year Perry Baker, Danny Barrett, Abby Gustaitis, Carlin Isles, Ilona Maher, Folau Niua, Naya Tapper, and Stephen Tomasin.
PR7s promises to provide equal pay under one league umbrella and will adopt a touring format in cities across the U.S. and Canada. Starting with a pilot season in the fall of 2021, PR7s’ teams will include many world-class athletes who will represent the U.S. in the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The league will feature six men’s teams and four women’s teams that will play multiple games in one location on a single day.
“The U.S. has enjoyed great success on the world stage, led by the efforts of players like Perry, Danny, Abby, Ilona, Folau, Naya, and Stephen,” said Tolkin. “With the Olympic Games happening this summer, these world-class athletes are a perfect foundation of PR7s’ talent on the field in year one. With the Olympic Games happening this summer, we hope to see these athletes competing for the United States. We’re looking forward to making more player announcements and holding tryouts for open positions soon.”
Baker, Barrett, Gustaitis, and Tapper participated in a launch video, which can be viewed HERE.
“This league is something that is so long overdue,” said Barrett. “I’ve been playing for almost 20 years. When I was growing up, it was the U.S. National Team or nothing. Now, PR7s is creating a pathway where a 17-year-old Danny Barrett knows a path to reach a professional level and the national team.”
“Everyone I know that is introduced to the sport of sevens falls in love with it,” said Baker. “New fans in North American will love the speed, the excitement, and the nonstop action. Personally, I live for big moments. And playing for fans in my own country through PR7s will be filled with those moments. I can’t wait.”
“I believe Premier Rugby Sevens will be a big reason the sport of sevens will take off in the United States and Canada and I want to be a part of that,” said Tapper. “One of my goals is to inspire the next generation, particularly crossover athletes, to consider rugby sevens. And now with PR7s, along with the Olympics, there are even more opportunities to continue an athlete’s career at the highest levels.”
“Joining Premier Rugby Sevens in its inaugural year is a huge opportunity to be a trailblazer in this sport domestically,” said Gustaitis. “The sky’s the limit on where this league can go here in North America and I’m extremely grateful to be one of the first athletes invited to join.”
As the two-time World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year Award Winner in 2017 and 2018, Baker signed an NFL contract with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011 before playing two seasons in the Arena Football League. The native of Daytona Beach switched to rugby in 2013 and quickly impressed the rugby world. He signed with the U.S. Men’s National Team in 2014 and was an integral part of the U.S. National Sevens team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
As a Pacifica, CA native, Barrett started playing rugby at 14 years old and became a four-time All-American (7s and 15s) at the University of California, Berkeley. He played in the 2015 15s Rugby World Cup, was a key member of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, where he scored 20 points for Team USA in five matches. Barrett competed at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in his home region of Northern California.
As a native of White Hall, MD, Gustaitis was a collegiate All-American (15s) at the University of Maryland. She made her HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series debut at the 2017 Dubai Sevens, helping the U.S. to a silver medal. She was selected for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 and has been co-captain of the U.S. National Sevens Team since 2019.
As one of the fastest humans on the planet, Isles set track and field records at Ashland University, where he also played football. Before switching to rugby, the Ohio native signed with the Detroit Lions practice squad in 2013. Isles clocked a 10.13-second 100-meters time and a 4.13-second 40-yard dash. He was selected to Team USA’s roster for the 2016 Olympic Games and was the top try-scorer of the entire HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in 2018 and 2019.
An all-around athlete, Maher lettered in field hockey, basketball, and soccer before fully transitioning to rugby at Quinnipiac University. As a native of Burlington, VT, Maher made her international debut at the 2018 Paris Sevens tournament. From there, she was selected to compete at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018, helping the Women’s Sevens finish fourth.
Niua has been part of the U.S. National Sevens Team since 2011 and holds the U.S. record for most tournament appearances with over 65 caps. In his debut at the 2011 PanAm Games, he led the team in scoring with 41 points on the way to the bronze medal. Niua debuted with the Men’s 15s team in 2013 and earned a selection to Rugby World Cup 2015 England. He was also part of the U.S. Rugby Sevens team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Raised in Charlotte, NC, Tapper started playing rugby at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill after excelling in track and field in high school. Tapper has gone on to become the second all-time leading try scorer for the U.S. Women’s National Team. Highlights of her career include the 2017 Sydney Sevens Player of the Final, and the 2018 Rugby World Cup second leading try scorer. She earned a silver medal at the 2017 Dubai Sevens Tournament, the gold medal at the 2019 Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque, and a silver medal at the 2019 Pan American Games.
Residing from Santa Rosa, CA, Tomasin was an All-American (7s and 15s) at San Diego State University, 2015 PanAm Games Bronze medalist, and participant at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2018. He played an important role in the U.S. Men achieving a No. 1 ranking two stops into the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019 season.
The sport of sevens, as it is known in its short form, is designed as a fast-paced, up-tempo type of rugby that brings nonstop action through a series of 15-minute games. The host cities and schedule, along with tryout information, additional player announcements, and team names, will be revealed in the coming months. Fans are encouraged to sign up for news alerts and schedule updates at PRSevens.com.
About Premier Rugby Sevens
Premier Rugby Sevens (PR7s) is a groundbreaking professional sports league in North America. Scheduled to debut in the Fall of 2021, PR7s is the first league of its kind with both women’s teams and men’s teams under one umbrella with equal pay. With a focus on accessibility and entertaining content for fans, the league will showcase the electrifying sport of rugby sevens through a single-day touring format in cities across the United States and Canada. To learn more about Premier Rugby Sevens, go to PRSevens.com and follow the league on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
# # #
Contact: Eric Nemeth
Eric PR & Marketing, LLC – on behalf of Premier Rugby Sevens