New Zealand Rugby Stars Sign with Premier Rugby Sevens for 2023 Season
Stacey Waaka, Manaia Nuku, Taysha Ikenisio, Kelsey Teneti, Kitiona Vai and Rhodes Featherstone to Grow the Game in United States – joining fellow New Zealander Ruby Tui
(NEW YORK, May 17, 2023) Premier Rugby Sevens (PR7s), the highest professional level of rugby sevens in the United States, announced additional global rugby stars from New Zealand have signed with the league for the 2023 season. Stacey Waaka and Manaia Nuku will play for the women’s New York Locals, while Tysha Ikenasio and Kelsey Teneti will suit up for the women’s Texas Team. Rhodes Featherstone will play for the men’s Texas Team, and Kitiona Vai will join the Southern Headliners.
As one of the most dominant players in the world, Waaka led the Black Ferns Sevens to victory last weekend (May 14, 2023) in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in France over the USA 7s team. Waaka was a member of the New Zealand Women's Sevens team when they won gold at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and the New Zealand fifteen-a-side team, which won the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup and the 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup, played in 2022.
The Locals, Team, and Headliners will compete in the Eastern Conference Kickoff in Austin at Q2 Stadium (Saturday, June 17) and the Eastern Conference Finals in Pittsburgh at Highmark Stadium (Sunday, July 23). The top men’s and women’s teams from each conference will qualify for the 2023 Championship tournament, which will take place in Washington, D.C., at Audi Field on Sunday, Aug. 6. A total of five tournaments will take place across America, adding Minneapolis (June 24) and San Jose (July 15) on Western Conference side. Tickets for each event are available at PRSevens.com/tickets.
Today’s announcement is a follow-up to international star Ruby Tui joining PR7s, which was confirmed earlier this month. Tui will compete for one of PR7s’ eight franchises, and an announcement will be made in the coming weeks. Each franchise will feature a men’s and a women’s team competing in their respective competitions.
“We are always looking for the best talent in the world to compete on the PR7s stage here in America,” said Mike Tolkin, General Manager of Premier Rugby Sevens. “ Stacey, Manaia, Tysha, Kelsey, Kitiona, and Rhodes are joining an incredible talent pool of Americans, Canadians, and other top athletes from around the world. It’s an exciting time to be part of the league as we grow the sport of sevens in the U.S. and beyond.”
2023 PR7s schedule of events (times are local):
Saturday, June 17 at 4 p.m. CT – Austin at Q2 Stadium
Saturday, June 24 at 5 p.m. CT – Minneapolis at TCO Stadium
Saturday, July 15 at 2 p.m. PT – San Jose at PayPal Park
Sunday, July 23 at 3 p.m. ET – Pittsburgh at Highmark Stadium
Sunday, Aug. 6 at 3:30 p.m. ET – PR7s Championship at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.
The PR7s conference breakdown:
- Texas Team
- New York Locals
- Southern Headliners
- Pittsburgh Steeltoes
- Northern Loonies
- Rhinos x SoCal Loggerheads
- Rocky Mountain Experts
- Golden State Retrievers
PR7s tournaments include 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 PR7s Championship, 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 women’s prize is the Kathy Flores Cup, honoring two major pioneers in American rugby.
The tournaments will be available to watch via CBS Sports and FS1 in the United States. International broadcast deals will be announced at a later date.