Premier Rugby Sevens Release
From Memphis Inner City Rugby to Highest Professional Level in the U.S. — Memphis-natives Calvin Gentry and Donovan Norphlet will launch their pro careers in their hometown on Oct. 9
Premier Rugby Sevens (PR7s), the new sports league featuring the top U.S. rugby sevens athletes, announced today they have signed two alumni of the Memphis Inner City Rugby program. Calvin Gentry, a graduate of the University of Memphis, and fellow Memphis-native Donovan Norphlet will play for the Mid-South Headliners as part of the launch of Premier Rugby Sevens at AutoZone Park on Saturday, Oct. 9. Tickets for The PR7s Inaugural Championship in Memphis are on sale now at PRSevens.com/tickets.
“Calvin and Donovan have absolutely earned their place in this league,” said Premier Rugby Sevens General Manager Mike Tolkin. “This is a testament of their hard work that started at the grassroots level at Memphis Inner City Rugby. I’m thrilled that they’ll be able to play in front of family and friends right here in Memphis on Oct. 9.”
After learning the game through Memphis Inner City Rugby, Norphlet went on to star at Life University, a national rugby powerhouse located in Georgia, where he graduated in 2018. Gentry followed on his own collegiate path shortly after when signed on to play rugby at Arkansas State University. Gentry graduated from the University of Memphis this year after transferring in 2019 to coach and play rugby for the Tigers. Both Donovan and Calvin were a big part of the City of Memphis’ success in growing rugby, having numerous documentaries on Youtube and Amazon Prime to show for it.
“This is a proud day for Memphis and Memphis Inner City Rugby,” said Shane Young, Memphis Inner City Rugby Founder. “I’ve been fortunate to not only watch Donovan and Calvin become elite rugby players, but also become exceptional men. I can’t wait to see them on the pitch at AutoZone Park on Oct. 9.”
As the 11th and 12th players to officially sign with PR7s, Gentry and Norphlet join 10 Olympians that represented Team USA in Tokyo and signed with the league earlier this year. The Memphis natives will be teammates with Olympian Folau Niua, who will be the captain of the Headliners men’s squad. Olympian Naya Tapper will be the captain of the Headliners woman’s team.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to play for PR7s at the highest level right here in Memphis – down the street from where I grew up,” said Gentry. “I remember going to the baseball games with my close friends, telling them that I was going to play rugby in the AutoZone Stadium one day, and here we are. It’s truly a blessing.”
“I can’t wait to get out on the pitch at AutoZone Park on Oct. 9,” said Norphlet. “To be on the same team with Calvin and to help build the foundation of Premier Rugby Sevens, it’s really an honor. Look out for the Headliners because we will represent our home city. And if you are not familiar with rugby sevens, you’re going to love the excitement, speed, physicality, and only 14-minute games. It will be a must-see event.
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.
The league’s initial player signings feature 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, Folau Niua, Naya Tapper, Stephen Tomasin, and Kevon Williams. The league will showcase six men’s teams and four women’s teams that play multiple games in a single day, beginning with the championship tournament in Memphis on Oct. 9.
As one of the largest grassroots rugby programs in the country, 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, and discounted tickets to the event on Oct. 9.