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Las Vegas: Rugby rules at the international tournament next month

January 04, 2013|By Jay Jones
  • Team USA mixes it up in last year's rugby tournament. The competition begins next month in Las Vegas.
Team USA mixes it up in last year's rugby tournament. The competition… (USA Sevens Rugby )

Rugby takes center stage next month in Las Vegas as teams from around the world gather for the USA Sevens International Rugby Tournament.

The action takes place Feb.8–10 at Sam Boyd Stadium on the eastern edge of the Las Vegas Valley and includes a variety of related events before, during and after the matches.

The game, which will return as an Olympic sport in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 for the first time since 1924, differs from traditional rugby in that teams of seven, instead of 15, compete in fast-paced matches consisting of seven-minute halves. The tournament will feature five to eight hours of play each day, with teams from 15 nations, from Argentina to South Africa to Wales, playing 45 matches over the three days.

“It’s a world series, literally,” said Dan Lyle, executive vice president of USA Sevens.

The game, popularized in Britain and its commonwealth countries, began in 1823 at a school in Rugby, England.

“[The boys] picked up a ball and ran with it, as opposed to kicking it, as a plaque at the school notes, ‘in fine disregard for the rules of the day,’” Lyle said.

“From 2007 to 2011, rugby was the fastest growing team sport in all of America. We went from 500,000 to 1.1 million players.”

The fun begins the night of Feb.  7, with a Parade of Nations at the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas. The evening of activities begins at 6:30.

During the event, the area around the stadium becomes a mini-United Nations. Vendors hawk food items as diverse as Australian meat pies and Kenyan samosas. Handmade goods from the represented countries are sold at stalls.

On adjacent practice fields, amateurs of all ages and skill levels will compete in the Las Vegas Invitational. Individuals and teams can register online.

Tickets for the international sporting event start at $10 for ages 14 and younger and $33 for adults. More info is available online and by calling (888) 784-2977.

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