Premier Rugby Sevens (PR7s), North America’s top-tier women’s and men’s rugby sevens competition, today announced the name of their Western Pennsylvania franchise – the Pittsburgh Steeltoes Rugby Club. The expansion franchise will host the PR7s 2023 Eastern Conference Finals at Highmark Stadium on Sunday, July 23. The festival-style tournament features men’s and women’s teams for the Steeltoes, Texas Team, Southern Headliners, and New York Locals. The Steeltoes will also host an open tryout in search of local talent on Sunday, March 19.
With plans to host five tournaments in 2023, each PR7s event will boast a party-like atmosphere with bands, DJs, games, and contests. Additional dates and markets will be announced in the coming weeks. Tickets for the Pittsburgh, San Jose, and Austin tournaments are now available at PRSevens.com/tickets.
“Pittsburgh and Western PA are home to some of the most passionate and knowledgeable sports fans in the country,” said Owen Scannell, CEO of Premier Rugby Sevens. “We’re thrilled to bring professional rugby to Pittsburgh for the first time and introduce rugby sevens to new audiences. The Steeltoes will be focused on engaging the local community throughout the year and growing grassroots initiatives in greater Western Pennsylvania with a capstone event as the hosts of the Eastern Conference Finals on July 23.”
PR7s tournaments will include a series of eight 14-minute games, rotating between the men’s and women’s competitions on the same day. Each event will crown a men’s and women’s winner. The season-long competition will build towards the 2023 Championship Tournament, where one franchise will take home the 2023 PR7s United Championship – an unprecedented prize that combines the men’s and women’s results. Additionally, the last men’s team standing will take home the A. Jon Prusmack Cup, and the winning women’s team will receive the Kathy Flores Cup, honoring two major pioneers in American rugby.
Before the season, each franchise will run PR7s Open Trials in their home markets to search for talent in their region. On March 19, the Steeltoes will host its first Open Trials at Chatham University. At Open Trials, franchises evaluate male and female athletes to compete to make a roster alongside Olympians and national team players. The local franchises will have the right of first refusal to draft these players in the upcoming expansion draft. The professional league offers pathways for players to have opportunities to also play internationally.
As a league, PR7s doubled in size this year with an elevated competition format. The top two teams from each conference will qualify for the 2023 Championship tournament. The following is the PR7s conference breakdown:
- New York Locals
- Pittsburgh Steeltoes
- Southern Headliners
- Texas Team
- Golden State Retrievers
- Northern Loonies
- Rocky Mountain Experts
- SoCal Loggerheads (licensed by Rhinos Rugby)
Last year, the PR7s 2022 season included over 30 matches through tournaments at the MLS stadiums in San Jose, Washington, D.C., and Austin. The Southern Headliners took home the first United Championship, led by Team USA Olympic co-captain Abby Gustaitis for the Headliners women and U.S. national team player Adam Channel for the men’s team. The Headliners women also took home the Kathy Flores Cup. The men of the SoCal Loggerheads were awarded the A. Jon Prusmack Cup as they were led to victory by U.S. Olympians Martin Iosefo and Matai Leuta.