Sevens is Sweeter in the Summer
Rugby is the fastest growing sport in the United States, and within the world of rugby, sevens is quickly becoming the most recognizable form of the game. The USA Sevens Tournament in Las Vegas brings thousands of fans from across the globe and is featured on network television. The Collegiate Rugby Championship features 20 of the best sevens teams from schools in the United States and is also featured on television. With the Olympic inclusion of sevens in 2016, this fast-paced form of rugby will gain even more popularity. Fans love the game for it’s speed and style, but the real reason sevens has taken off in the United States is because ruggers across the country have embraced it.
There are many reasons why sevens is the game of the summer. Players of all ages, positions and skill levels flock to the sunburned pitches of sevens tournaments like Beerfoot 7s in Ft. Myers, Fla., Lakefront 7s in Milwaukee, Wis. and Midnight 7s in Las Vegas. The truth about sevens is that it offers something for everyone.
Sevens requires two things that forwards are not often known to possess: speed and ball-handling skills. It is rare to see a natural tight five player on the sevens pitch because the game features entirely too much running and sprinting for my more stocky packmates. There is good reason why every time a prop attempts a drop goal or makes a long run that it ends up on the highlight reel. The real beauty of summer sevens for forwards is the freedom to sit back, grab a fine beverage and rest their “muscles” until XVs season returns. There is no love lost from forwards during summer sevens. A sevens “scrum” is a laughable event to any member of the pack eight. Plus, it’s much too hot in the summer and the sideline is where all the rugby-loving groupies congregate. Leave the sevens to those more built for it, the front row will have a beer waiting for you when the match is over.
Sevens must have been invented by a back. Who else would create a game that takes out nearly all aspects of forward play and instead cuts the number of players on the pitch by more than half? This, in turn, gives each of the backs more opportunities to touch the ball. The lower number of players per side also increases the total percentage of attention paid to each player by the doting fans. Backs live for this kind of attention. The fast pace of sevens also gives backs more opportunities to do that “try-scoring” thing that they’re so fond of. There is no time or energy wasted battling the stench of the scrum, or tired props committing penalties in sevens. There is only speed, skill and action.
Most importantly, sevens is the perfect game for the fans. What could be better than seeing five entire matches of sevens in the time it takes to watch one match of XVs. Summer is the perfect time to break out the grill and tailgate, and an all-day sevens tournament is the best place on earth for a tailgate. Ultimately, fans are attracted to hits and tries. They are in luck with sevens, where both are abundant. The final scores of sevens matches are often very similar to the final scores of XVs matches, in less than one fifth of the time.
Whatever your reason to watch sevens, embrace this version of the game with open arms. It is only set to gain popularity in the future. Whether you’re a forward enjoying a vacation, a back basking in the limelight or a fan partying on the sideline, it is clear that sevens is a game for everyone.