Rugby sevens: Get ready for 2 days of wild action

Pick a costume, grab a friend and get ready for two days of wild action as Pan Am rugby sevens runs at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto on July 11 and 12.

Everything happens at warp speed, in short order

Canadian rugby sevens captain John Moonlight is part of sport where everything happens at warp speed. ((Claus Andersen/Getty Images))

Pick a costume, grab a friend and get ready for two days of wild action as Pan Am rugby sevens runs at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto on July 11 and 12.

Here's a quick guide:

1. You like fast? We've got fast.

  • Everything in rugby sevens happens at warp speed. The preliminary games are seven minutes a half, with a one-minute break in between — that's barely enough time to finish a hot dog.
  • Finals are two 10-minute halves with two minutes between.
  • Each of the two days features a "no waiting" lineup of 21 games in 10 hours, featuring six women's teams and eight men's sides.

2. Seven over 15.

  • As you may have surmised, rugby sevens features seven players on the field — two props and a hooker up front, then a scrum half, fly half, centre and winger.
  • "Prop" is just a name in this case, as there are no 250-260-pound athletes up there pushing the scrum. These props are around 210. And fast.
  • Sevens features passing and running, and more running, followed by running.
  • The phrase "There he goes!!" pops up pretty much once a minute, as another forward dives in for a try. Also "There she goes!!"
  • A sevens game features about the same score as a 15s game, though the latter is 80 minutes long. That says something.
  • No placekicking allowed (it takes too long). Everything is a drop kick, therefore grounding a try in front of the posts is important.

3. Fans have more fun than a bunch of zombies at a rock concert.

In the HSBC Series at Hong Kong and in England, supporters show up in costumes that can range from Ernie and Bert to aliens, playing cards, Shrek characters and a bunch of bananas. A BIG bunch of bananas.

This year's London sevens put 80,000 spectators in for two full days at hallowed Twickenham, where everyone went absolutely starkers in the Cabbage Patch.

It's a party.

4. Gretzky is Argentinian.

The top try scorer in sevens history is Santiago Gomez Cora, with 230. He also scored 1,178 points and now coaches his country's national team.

5. Russells and Moonlights.

Dave Moonlight, now retired, is among the best scorers in sevens history. His cousin is John Moonlight, now the captain of the Canadian team. John's coach, Liam Middleton, thinks his leader is the best sevens player in the world.

John, as did Dave before him, also plays on the Canadian 15s side.

On the women's side, Kelly Russell is the former 15s captain (silver medal in 2014 worlds), and is the sister of Laura, now the 15s captain. Laura doesn't play sevens.

6. Canada is pretty good at this.

And so are the United States and Argentina. Those three are considered shoo-ins for the men's semifinals.

Canada won the last Pan Am men's sevens, beating Argentina by two points. The U.S., however, is on a major high, having already secured a berth in next year's sevens debut at the Rio Olympics. They beat the Canadians to do that, and now the red and white has one more chance to qualify.

They also pounded the famous Australians in the London sevens final back in May.

7. Women enter the stage.

Ghislaine Landry, who topped the HSBC Series with 301 points (tries and kicking) last season, leads a powerful Canadian side into the Pan Ams as the women's game debuts.

Also aboard is Magali Harvey, women's player of the year in 15s last season, and the woman who famously ran a 95-metre try back against France in the World 15s semis at France in 2014.


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