The case for rugby, the newest Olympic sport

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Patrick Rowles, Contributing Writer

The Groundhogs have played their last home match of the year (a 2-point thriller over Southern Methodist University on Groundhog Day), but there is still more rugby to be had: One must only peruse the backend channels on cable or check out websites like PlanetRugby for international rugby news.
But when I tell people to watch rugby, most respond, “I have no idea what’s going on.” I sympathize with that, but I’m telling you it’s worth the learning curve: Rugby is the fine wine to football’s beer.
One thing I advise against is watching compilation videos of big hits on YouTube. Most of those plays end up with a red card. The best thing to start watching is sevens. It’s rugby with half the number of players on each side, but the same huge playing field, which makes for simpler gameplay and exciting breakaway runs. It’s also only 14 minutes per match because it is played in a tournament fashion in which there is a lot of action packed into a short time.
Rugby is returning to the Olympics in Rio in this form, and the U.S. is looking to defend its gold medal from 1924, which was the last time rugby was played as an Olympic sport. The current U.S. team does not look like a contender to defend the gold, but it does boast the fastest rugby player ever: Carlin Isles is one of the fastest sprinters in the country, but chose rugby over the 100-meter in London. He is a sight to behold.
So if you don’t know anything about rugby, start by watching sevens. There’s an international tournament every month, it is really easy to pick up, and it makes for some really thrilling entertainment.

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