Every year, the best seven-a-side national rugby teams play a series of tournaments around the globe. Las Vegas is now one of the stops in this traveling rugby party, as it hosts the USA Sevens on Feb. 12-13 at Sam Boyd Stadium. So, what’s in it for you? In your own backyard you can watch what is becoming one of the fastest-growing sports on the planet. And we’re not talking about the 80-minute, 15-player rugby you might occasionally catch on ESPN 6; this is mini rugby and … here are seven reasons why the tournament is worth the price of admission (starting at $45, USASevens.com):
1. It’s action-packed. The games are quick (two seven-minute halves) because they are so demanding. The players sacrifice their bodies, lay in huge tackles, showcase sleight-of-hand with nifty passes, and score tries (that’s like a touchdown). Last year’s USA Sevens averaged more than five tries per 14-minute game.
2. It’s old-school. Do you miss the days when an athlete would get laid out and then helped off the ground by the guy who tackled him? Do you like seeing athletes put it all out on the field and shake hands afterward? Do you like to see athletes have fun and play for pride? Us, too.
3. It’s a global party. Sixteen teams will be at the USA Sevens, representing all six inhabited continents. Everyone loves their team, but there’s a brotherhood within rugby, and everyone celebrates the game—no angry soccer-style rivalries here. You can give a high five to your Samoan friend on the right or the Kenyan on the left, no worries.
4. It’s a costume party. Rugby fans like to dress up. Some wear wigs to make them look like their favorite players. Some come as their favorite superhero, while the USA’s most recognizable fans are the Bunny Girls (stars and stripes on bunny ears) and no one knows why.
5. It’s the newest Olympic sport. Sevens rugby will debut in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
6. There are Cinderella stories. Each team has its own unique style and brilliant athletes, but the Samoans are extra fun to watch. Last year they wowed the crowd with their astounding teamwork and amazing athleticism on their way to winning the Vegas finals. Who knows who the tournament darling could be this year?
7.USA … USA … The home team has been doing just fine lately. In 2009-10, the “Eagles” made the final in Adelaide, Australia, and won the consolation trophy in Las Vegas. This year they’re the darkhorse everyone will be cheering on.