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Just tell these guys to scrum

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Have a Super Bowl XXXIX hangover? Your antidote might be sporting world's answer to "kill the man with the ball."

Boasting far less padding, fewer millionaires and, thankfully, no TV timeouts, the USA Sevens — an international competition for seven-a-side rugby teams — tears up the Home Depot Center in Carson this weekend. It's a "carnival-style" tournament featuring clubs from 16 countries competing in 44 matches over two days amid ear-pounding music and beer-pounding fans.

Rugby, long regarded in America as just a "college" game, is trying to break into the crowded commercial sports marketplace. The tournament, sponsored by the International Rugby Board and USA Rugby, is seeking to appeal as much to extreme sports fans with no knowledge of the game as to the rugby-starved expatriate communities of Southern California.

It's the only North American tour stop, and the top teams in the sport will compete: New Zealand's All Blacks, South Africa's Springboks, Australia's Wallabies, defending World Cup champion England. But expect loud support from the fans of teams such as Tonga, Kenya and Argentina, last year's surprise champs. The U.S. will be there too, with a young squad hoping to make a mark.

Sevens, as it is commonly called, would seem made for American attention spans — seven-minute halves, lots of scoring, full contact and little protection. For the players, it's a crucial tournament. L.A. is the last stop for these teams before the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Hong Kong this March. For the fans, it's a chance to wave flags, cheer and forget about the Super Bowl, if they even noticed.

USA Sevens, Home Depot Center, 1000 E. Victoria St., Carson. 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. $35 to $80; two-day pass, $60 to $150. (213) 480-3232; www.usasevens.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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