The 20-minute-long rugby matches hurried by Saturday as relentlessly as the Shore-bound traffic on the Commodore Barry Bridge, whose long span hovered high above PPL Park's grandstands.

Even as two teams lined up for post-match handshakes, two more were sprinting onto the field for another of the compact rugby sevens contests.

Watching 16 teams play 24 games in a 10-hour span, you realize there's a lot you didn't know about the game. For example:

This ain't the NBA. Baggy shorts haven't cracked rugby's traditions yet. As a result, with all the short-shorts and thighs on display, the games resemble Village People performances or the mosh-pit at a Debbie Gibson concert.

A rugby ball looks like a football that's due to give birth soon, undoubtedly long before the Phillies manage another multiple-run inning.

It's obvious from the terminology - touch down, offsides, etc. - that American football is an offshoot of British-born rugby. But frankly, it looks more like a descendant of two Philly street games, Keep Away and Hot Potato.

One of the key positions in rugby is the hooker. Saturday was not the first time that hookers have been spotted on Chester's waterfront.

It appears that they've taken the foot out of the sevens version of rugby. Saturday's games featured fewer kicks than a typical episode of Friends.

Rugby is what NFL football would look like if you did away with agents, lawyers, anal league officials, and Terry Bradshaw.

Because of all the desperate lateraling, a typical scoring play in rugby looks like something the Stanford band might have devised.

Penalized players are sent to a penalty box. The NFL equivalent is being traded to Cincinnati.

Contradictions on display

Texas rugby.

SuperPretzels for sale at the Authentic Philadelphia concession stand.

Chester and rugby.

Traditional rivals who played Saturday

Penn State-Ohio State (won by Penn State).


(won by Texas).


(won by Army).


The crowd booed victorious Utah when, after a win over Boston College that was punctuated by several questionable tackles and two yellow cards, several Utes refused to shake hands with their vanquished opponents. . . . The PPL stands never appeared to be more than half full at any time, though given the rapid turnover of teams and games, spectators constantly wandered in and out of the seating area. . . . Before TV coverage switched to NBC at 4 p.m., the stadium announcer begged fans constantly to cross the stadium and fill in all the empty seats on the side that would be visible to TV viewers. When that didn't work, he announced that there would be a free T-shirt toss conducted, but only on that one side of the field. Finally, the scantily clad USA Sevens dance team was dispatched to persuade reluctant fans to move. . . . Few things bring a smile to one's face quicker than a glimpse at an enormous stadium billboard for Bimbo bread.