Things learned while reading the official program for the 2011 USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championships:
Conditions have improved for USA Sevens national teams in recent years. Ex-player Brian Hightower recalled in a story that in 1996, the team stayed in a cheap Phoenix hotel during its training session, sharing its one hot tub with "a tattooed freight hauler and a rotund family from Albuquerque."
In late-September 2012, there will be a World Vintage Rugby Carnival in Hawaii for what can be best described as over-the-hill ruggers. Among the teams to be represented there will be the Bundaburk Rumruckers, the Sunnybank Puffin Dragons, the Manly Steamers and the Creaky Ol' Convicts.
The above tournament will be played on a field beneath Diamond Head, adjacent to the beaches at Waikiki. That leads to a thought. Now that The Inquirer has established itself as the the paper of record in the USA sevens tournament community, it seems only reasonable to suggest that it dispatch one of its most-esteemed, over-the-hill rugby correspondents (ahem!) to cover this newsworthy event.
But if it's more traditional rugby my editors are after, let it be known that the 2011 Rugby World Cup will take place in New Zealand. (Ahem!) According to a New Zealand Active Adventures ad, while there one could also "hike, bike and kayak through New Zealand's pure wilderness." Get your credential requests in early.
A big match calls for the bold breakfast flavor you can get only at Subway. That being the case, I'm afraid to ask what a little match calls for.
The Philadelphia area apparently will be hosting another sevens tournament this summer. The ninth annual Cheesesteak 7s will be played July 9 in Chester Springs. The mind boggles. ("Yo, listen up! Youse is playin' a big match today. Somebody call Subway.")
Penn State women's coach Pete Steinberg had this to say of star Lisa Henneman: "She also is a great decision-maker once she has made the break, often scoring tries after throwing a dummy." If she's like most coeds, she's probably had lots of practice throwing dummies who tried to score.
Don't lend me your ears
Apparently rugby sevens fans often wear bunny ears to tournaments. Did not see a single pair at PPL Park, not even below the Bimbo Bakeries sign.
The Princeton's women's team, perhaps because it lost a bet when it was beaten by Temple in the morning, stripped down to sports bras and stood in the grandstands throughout the Arizona-Central Washington men's quarterfinal.
This would have been a more interesting development, of course, if it had been anyone but the Princeton women.
A rugby press box is far different than those you find in other sports.
Watching a women's match early Sunday morning, for example, one writer yelled, "Oh, c'mon! That was pedantic!"
You also get little help from rugby press officials, assuming there were any present. No scores. No scorers. Little aid of any kind. You get a seat, a veggie wrap and a program.
Fortunately, a rugby sevens halftime is only four minutes long. Otherwise, fans at PPL Park would have been subjected to more of the large, loud P.A. announcer who roamed the stands leaving shattered eardrums in his wake.
On Saturday he ceaselessly berated fans to switch their seats so the stadium would look fuller for NBC10's cameras. On Sunday he kept cajoling spectators to visit the adjacent block party so that they could buy some "rugby swag."
He did oversee one inadvertently funny routine. When three preteen boys were teamed up with three USA Sevens dance team members for a pairs-dancing contest, one of the lads attempted to get a little amorous with his scantily clad partner.
See you next year
The Collegiate Rugby Championship will return to PPL Park in 2012, USA Sevens, NBC and Global Spectrum (the operator of PPL Park) announced Sunday.
The dates and teams have not been decided.
Sayings seen on the backs of rugby tees
"Give blood. Play rugby."
"Rugby is a Beastly Game Played by Gentlemen"
"Live to Try"
"It Takes a Big Man to Cry But It Takes an Even Bigger Man to Laugh at That Man."
"Destructive People Doing Constructive Things"