Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012 | 3:25 p.m.
Rugby players from around the globe will compete in the USA Sevens Rugby tournament Friday through Sunday at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.
Here are images from the 2011 USA Sevens Rugby World Series to help illustrate various aspects of the international sport.
This international sport brings top rugby players together to compete in the HSBC Sevens World Series Title. The title is acquired by accumulating points in a series of nine tournaments hosted in different countries. Las Vegas is the fifth of nine World Series stops.
USA Sevens was appropriately named as seven players on each team will take to a field that measures up to 330 feet long and 230 feet wide; traditional rugby is played with 15 players on each side. Traditional rugby goes for 80 minutes; Sevens Rugby games are much shorter: There are two halves each lasting seven minutes with a one-minute halftime. This condensed version allows for tournaments such as ours to be completed over a weekend.
The scoring system is the same as the 15-players-a-side rugby game: 5 points for a try (similar to a touchdown in football), 2 for a conversion and 3 for both penalties and drop goals. The difference is that all conversions must be taken within 40 seconds of the try being scored and must be taken as a drop goal rather than a place kick.
A team is broken down into three forwards, three backs and one scrum half, a key supporting player who can receive the ball from the lineout. Scrums consist of three players from each team, rather than eight in traditional rugby.
Rugby's popularity seems to be growing in the United States as fans turning out for the Las Vegas event go as far as painting their bodies with the colors of their favorite national team. According to USA Sevens Rugby, attendance at the Las Vegas event has grown each year since 2010, and tournament organizers expect that trend to continue.
Over the course of three days 16 nations will be represented and will compete in 44 games of USA Sevens Rugby. Reigning Series champions New Zealand heads the cast of teams that will compete in Las Vegas, including Fiji, South Africa, England, France, Australia, Wales, Samoa, Argentina, Scotland and Kenya. Also represented are the United States, serving as host country, Canada, Japan, Uruguay and Brazil.