17 February 2004

Happy Tuesday Fellow Ruggers,

The question of the day - I know it's a strange time to be thinking about Sevens Rugby, but would you rather play Sevens in knee-deep snow while it's 20 degrees with a wind-chill of 4 degrees, in front of some of a half-dozen or so people clapping their glove-laden hands together for warmth OR would you rather play Sevens on plush green grass while it's 78 degrees, with a warm ocean breeze, in front of thousands of screaming fans? On the surface, the answer to this question would seem blatantly obvious. However, if you delve a little deeper, the snow-bowl begins to look a little better.

Here's my angle - last weekend, there were two 7's Rugby tournaments happening simultaneously. The first, in Buffalo, New York, was the annual Winterfest Rugby tournament hosted by the Buffalo Rugby Club. The other took place in Los Angeles, the first ever IRB Sevens tour stop in the United States, held at the beautiful Home Depot center.

My original plan was to be in Los Angeles to partake in this historic event. But, I settled for playing Sevens in the snow. I showed up around 9am, 14 degrees, wind-chill of 0. Our warm-up consisted of huddling around a burning barrel. Just walking to said burning barrel was a labor-intensive chore. With the first kickoff, I knew it was going to be a long day (my first clue should have been when I started to run, but didn't move!) It was like running in quicksand, and my only lifeline was a chunk of ice. So, I'll make a long story short- it was a tremendous amount of fun. The team I played with made it to the finals. There was no frostbite reported and , I can promise you, the beer was cold….REALLY cold.

Dateline Los Angeles, CA - The Sixteen greatest Sevens teams ever to be in the United States, put on a wonderful show in Los Angeles last weekend. Some notable accomplishments- the US hosts taking the shield, our Canadian friends made it to the plate finals, and Argentina, traditionally a 15-a-side oriented rugby team, who specializes in a forward style, defeated the Rugby juggernaut New Zealand All Blacks in the cup final. Some very fast, exciting Sevens were played, with many of the games coming down to the last possession in injury time. I'll be looking forward to hearing, first-hand accounts from the people who were there. Sadly, from my lazy boy, it was difficult to tell if the US did a good job of hosting the tournament. From the shots of the stands, it was very difficult to get an estimate of how many spectators were there at any given time. I am fairly confident that US Rugby did a good enough job to deserve hosting again next year. I would hope, in the two remaining years of their 3 year deal, that they will improve with each successive year. As I always say, “Success breeds success”, so hopefully USA Rugby can build on this great event.

I guess we haven't answered the question - where would you rather be? I'm still riding the fence, but I'm leaning towards my wind-burned ice scraped face and my second place finish in the Winterfest Sevens Tournament. The big factor for me is getting to play. And, besides getting to have my day in the flurry-laden, overcast skies, I also got to go home, sit in my lazy-boy and watch the glorious IRB Sevens event unfolding. For sure, I can put in this disclaimer - if I would have had the opportunity to go to LA, you can bet your bottom dollar that my answer to that question would have gone the other way.

Pat Laczkowski
Front Row Outfitters