Party Like A Rugby Star

The USA Sevens tournament at Petco Park enlivens downtown on and off the field

The USA Sevens rugby tournament brings the party to Petco Park this weekend (February 14-15). If last year’s 7-on-7 tournament of bumps and bruises (and that’s just in the nightclubs after the matches) is any indication, downtown ought to prepare for a big score.

American audiences aren’t as wild about rugby as South Africans, Aussies, Samoans or the Brits. But these games—shortened versions of traditional rugby matches, bring out the partisan partiers. Last year, the Kenyan team took over the Jade Theater (now closed) and literally swung from the downstairs ceiling and walls. Outside passersby swear the building was shaking from the merriment inside the night club that night.

My experience with rugby consists of two semesters of college participation. I was given the worst position in the 15-man version of the game. When you play “second row” the action comes during a scrum. You get to tightly hug a guy on either side. Then you stick your head between the butts of two guys in front of you. We all push forward against the other team, wait for the ball to trickle out and, in my case, proceed to run around with no direction until the ref whistles you for offsides.

During the several months I played, I honestly never learned the rules. The post-game ritual, however, I quickly picked up on: Grab an alcoholic beverage and make it disappear. Repeat. Repeat.

Sevens is more action-packed than the 15-man game. More frenetic. Longer runs. Less head-between-butts strategy. But the post-game ritual varies little from the way I learned it. Gear up, Gaslamp Quarter. The Kenyans are coming.

Ron Donoho, formerly executive editor of "San Diego Magazine," is a regular contributor to who covers local news, sports, culture and happy hours.

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