Imagine an event that combines the intensity of NCAA football overtime, the international appeal of World Cup soccer, and the party atmosphere of the Kentucky Derby or the Melbourne Cup.
Look no further than the annual IRB Rugby Sevens World Series which makes it only US stop this Febuary 14-15th in San Diego, CA.
In practically every other former British colony, bar the United States and Canada, rugby football is the most popular form of football other than "soccer".
Rugby football (the forerunner to American gridiron football) and is usually played with teams of 15. The "Sevens" variant trims the teams to just seven players making the game-play faster. There is far more quick possession changes and less set piece action.
IRB Sevens World Series is a true "world series" with sixteen countries representing all
six of the world's habitable continents. These teams will play 44 high paced matches over two days. Some teams hail from nations where rugby is a top tier sport such as Scotland or Australia. While say the Japanese side, represents a nation with a proud though less historical rugby program.
Fan favourites are sure to include the US national side, the Mexican national side,
and of course the New Zealand team which are perennially recognized as the
greatest team in Rugby Union.
New Zealand has won USA Sevens twice in 2008 and 2005. The only team to
capture two victories in the USA tournament which dates only to 2004.
The crowd atmosphere is always lively and this year in particular for 2009 Sevens action will culminate in the 2009 Rugby World Cup. In addition the chance to see something other than baseball at gorgeous Petco Park is worth a certain novelty factor within itself.
Other stops on the tour include Hong Kong, the Emirates, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, England, and South Africa.
Tickets for this two day event are priced as little as $26 a day for the party zone and a couple hundred dollars will get you VIP elite all you can eat seats.
For more information visit: http://www.usasevens.com/
Joe Nixon is a freelance sports writer