Local players added to Premier Rugby Sevens in Memphis

Premiere Rugby Sevens
Premiere Rugby Sevens(Action News 5)
Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 8:11 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - When the Premier Rugby Sevens Championship Series comes to Memphis this fall, a couple of Memphians will be carrying the ball on the field.

Two former players as youths in the Memphis Inner City Rugby Program, Calvin Gentry and Donovan Norphlet, have signed professional contracts and will play for the Mid-South headliners as part of the Leagues Launch at AutoZone Park on October 9. 

Gentry played on the University of Memphis’ club team and earned USA Collegiate All American Honors. Norphlet starred at Life University, a national rugby powerhouse in Georgia.

“This is great to have this here,” said Gentry. “I remember coming down here when I was about 15-16, to watch the Redbirds. And I said, ‘one day I’m going to play in this stadium. Now it’s happening and I want to thank everybody for making it so.”

Norphlet was part of the original youths to join the Memphis Inner City Rugby Program.

“At first they told us it was a football meeting,” said Norphlet. “When we got there it was about rugby. I didn’t know about that. But after I got into it it was fun and my mother was skeptical at first, but she let me play. I’ve been playing since I was a kid and it’s been a part of my life ever since.” 

Premier Rugby Sevens only allows seven players per side on the field, rather than 15, so the action is fast, and the scoring is quick. Several Olympians are slated to play in the Games here.

Both men’s and women’s teams are involved. Equal pay for all.

The Premier Rugby Sevens Inaugural Championship event is set for October 9 downtown at AutoZone Park.

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