This past weekend, rugby fans from across America and all over the world gathered in the deserts of Nevada to witness and take part in one of the most exciting sporting events of the year: the annual US Sevens tournament in Las Vegas.
Rugby sevens is one the fastest growing sports in the US right now, and rightfully so. It's a much faster version of traditional rugby, which has struggled to gain widespread popularity stateside.
Sevens, on the other hand, has been getting more and more popular amongst non-rugby playing Americans.
With the US looking to take home the gold next summer in Rio (when rugby sevens returns to the Olympics games), it makes sense for the game to be the next big thing to pop off in American sports -- here's why:
1. Easy to Follow
For the most part, rugby sevens is pretty easy to understand. There are seven players on the field for each team, with seven-minute halves.
Other than that, the rules are pretty much the same as traditional rugby. There are no forward passes allowed, no blocking and you have to touch the ball down when you score.
2. USA Could Be Pretty Good
The US team won their group and made it to the semi-finals in the Las Vegas sevens tournament this weekend.
They've played well against international powerhouses like South Africa and New Zealand, and the squad is getting better and better with each tournament.
3. Flashy/Exciting Plays
Since there aren't as many people on the field as regular rugby, there's a lot more space for players to get creative. This leads to some of those most dazzling plays in sports.
4. Big Hits
The game isn't all about the flash, though. These guys can still lay the lumber. Nobody wants to get caught on the wrong side of any of these hits.
5. Carlin Isles
Carlin Isles has been dubbed "the fastest man in rugby." The former sprinter turned to rugby after he missed making the Olympic sprinting team.
Now, the speedster is one of those most electrifying players in rugby sevens, and he'll have a chance to compete for the US in the Olympic games.
6. Commercial Breaks
One of the biggest reasons rugby hasn't gotten big in the United States is because of the lack of commercial breaks.
Seven-minute halves instead of 40-minute halves means sevens tournaments can air on television with a substantial amount of time without people getting bored.
7. Your Favorite College Probably Has a Team, Too
Rugby sevens is blowing up on college campuses. Every year in Philadelphia, the best college teams from across the country gather to compete in the CRC's rugby sevens tournament.
The tournament features some of the brightest young stars in sevens who might, someday, be representing the USA in international tournaments and possibly even in the Olympics.