MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Premier Rugby Sevens announced earlier this summer its inaugural championship was coming to AutoZone Park.
Wednesday, we were introduced to two local athletes — the pioneers of Memphis Inner City Rugby — who are getting the chance to compete on October 9th, an amazing full circle moment in their careers.
“Me standing here right now feels unreal,” said former Tiger Calvin Gentry.
“It’s very surreal and a little emotional to see them be a part of this event after being the pioneers and basically founders of rugby in their schools and communities,” said MICR Founder Shane Young.
The first 10 players announced to play for Premier Rugby Sevens are just getting back from Tokyo after competing in the 2020 Olympics. The 11th and 12th players are from right here in Memphis, Gentry and Donovan Norphlet. Both are former Power Center Academy standouts and two of the first players a part of MICR.
“Let me just take this opportunity full circle,” said Gentry. “Let me go strong at this. Let me go hard at this, if it doesn’t work out then it doesn’t work out.”
“Getting this great opportunity with Premier Rugby Sevens to come back home and play my first professional game at home,” Norphlet. “It’s a very amazing feeling and it’s going to be a memory I’m going to cherish for a very long time.”
Norphlet told WREG his return home is even more special. It’s a bright spot during a dark time in his life.
“Grandparents starting to get older and being away from the city starting to miss those moments with them,” said Norphlet. “It’s kind of hard emotionally. But, coming back and playing in this and them being able to see me play will make everything worth it.”
Tryouts for a chance to compete in the inaugural championship are Sunday at Vance Middle School.