MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Premier Rugby Sevens is bringing its inaugural championship to AutoZone Park.
The founder and CEO of the new league said that’s because Memphis is a great destination for rugby fans, but most importantly it’s because of one of the largest grassroots rugby programs in country
“As a brand-new league, we went on a nationwide search to find the perfect host for our inaugural championship,” said Owen Scannell, the founder and CEO of Premier Rugby Sevens.
And that perfect place is Memphis, largely because of Memphis Inner City Rugby (MICR) and the impact it has had on athletes like Jayla Hampton.
“Before MICR, there were no kids playing rugby in Memphis – that I knew of,” said Hampton. “They told me I could do anything I put my mind to, and they stamped that.”
Hampton is preparing to play for one of the top collegiate rugby programs in the country at Lindenwood University. The USA Rugby all-American also qualified to travel with USA Sevens national rugby team.
She’s excited for the mark Premier Rugby Sevens will leave on the Bluff City.
“Now that Premier Rugby Sevens is coming to Memphis, those hidden pathways will probably open up for a lot of the kids in our community. They’ll now see role models – literally in their city – the city they grew up in and that they live in right there in their face on that field playing. That’s the greatest opportunity of them all.”
Memphis Inner City Rugby and its student-athletes will have access to PR7s players, a coach development clinic, professional development opportunities integrated with the event.
“We are just honored and excited to prove Premier Rugby Sevens right for choosing the city of Memphis to host this tournament for the first time and to bring rugby at this level to our soil in Memphis,” said MICR Founder and Executive Director Shane Young. “We think they are exactly right and we can’t wait to, as a community partner’ and an entity neighboring and supporting the grassroots efforts in the sport and beyond. Here in Memphis we can’t wait to show them why they made the right choice in investing in our community because that’s all we’re interested in doing is proving everyone right who’s believed in Memphis Inner City Rugby and who’s invested in us for so long.”
The league’s initial player signings feature several stars from both the Men’s and Women’s U.S. Olympic Rugby Sevens Teams, including Perry Baker, Danny Barrett, Abby Gustaitis, Carlin Isles, Alev Kelter, Ilona Maher, Folau Niua, Naya Tapper, Stephen Tomasin, and Kevon Williams.
In the coming months, we will get to know more of the players and teams that will be announced to this league. But for right now, the new league is just excited for what’s to come on October 9th.
For fans unable to make it to Memphis to witness the event in person, the inaugural men’s and women’s tournaments will be available through FOX Sports. The PR7s Inaugural Championship will be live across FS2, the FOX Sports App and FOXSports.com, with the championship re-airing on FS1.