During the trip, I’ve had the chance to watch some rugby on television with people from countries that (a) care about the sport and (b) were nice enough to explain some of it to me. Normal rugby is played with 13 or 15 players on each team, Rugby League and Rugby Union rules, respectively. Don’t ask me why there are two different kinds of the game. For Americans, the easiest way to think of rugby is basically American football without the forward pass and without any breaks in the action. There are some other rules, but basically it is similar to American football with just lateral passes and running for the end zones. . . and the ability to kick “field goals” on the run as the action is going on. O’ yea, as the rugby people out there will point out, incessently, “no sissy helmets and pads, like you wimpy Americans.
Pretty cool game to watch, actually. Though I think if America took it seriously and put out a trained team of our football players on the field, they might not think we were that wimpy.
Turns out there is another type: Sevens. Needless to say, in this version there are only seven people on the team. I think the size of the field is the same for all the games. Since there are fewer players, there is a lot less defense, and a hell of a lot more action in Sevens. So much action and running, in fact, that the entire game is only about 15 minutes long, with a very brief break for halftime at the 7 minute mark. They play 24 preliminary round games on Friday and another 20 or so elimination games on Saturday to determine the winners. Non-stop action.
The Sevens Tournament is an annual international event with 16 nations competing. It is part of something called the IRB Sevens World Series Circuit — basically, these teams travel around the world and have these two day tournaments. In fact, this upcoming weekend they are in Las Vegas. If you are close by — it would be well worth your effort to go watch. It really is a blast.
But enough about rugby. The reason this tournament is really interesting is that all the spectators dress up in costumes. I really do mean everyone. I sat outside the entrance gates for a couple hours and took pictures of people showing up to watch. I’d estimate a full 90% of the crowd were dressed up. And not only the people showing up — there were hundreds upon hundreds of people just wandering around town for these two days in costume also.
If you like Halloween, this is a must-do event for you.