FAIRMONT — As former Fairmont State football player Perry Baker begins his quest for gold in the Rio Olympics, the FSU faithful will gather to cheer him on.
Today at noon on the second floor of the Falcon Center, Fairmont State University will host a #Perry4Gold team USA rugby sevens watch party as Baker and the American team take on Argentina.
“We hope the Fairmont community will come out to help us cheer on former Fighting Falcon Perry Baker in his first Team USA rugby sevens match during our #Perry4Gold watch party,” FSU Director of Marketing and Branding Amy Baker said. “Everyone is welcome. It is sure to be a fast-moving and exciting match.
“We are really proud of Perry and all he has achieved. We’ll have giveaway items and free pizza to add to the party atmosphere. Those who attend will also be able to record a personal video message for Perry.”
Admission to the event is free and the public is invited. Anyone who attends will be able to sign a rugby ball that will be presented to Perry Baker when he returns home.
For many tuning in to NBC Sports Network today at noon, this is potentially their first taste of rugby sevens competition.
“Rugby as a whole in West Virginia is usually a mystery,” Dr. Greg Noone, who works with the Fairmont State club rugby team, said. “It doesn’t have a big rugby culture in the area.”
According to Noone, however, the rules are not difficult to understand.
“Let’s think American football,” Noone began. “Take out the blocking and take out the forward pass. Then take out all the stoppages in play. It’s continuous.”
In rugby sevens, each team has seven members and they play two seven-minute halves.
Without many stoppages in play, the ball can easily change possession quickly as each team tries to advance to the opponents end zone.
“You’re trying to advance the ball down the field with no forward passes and no blocking,” Noone said.
When players are tackled, they must release the ball.
Players can throw the ball backward or laterally to teammates, but no forward passes are permitted.
What players can do it kick the ball whenever the want to.
“(Players) can kick the ball down the field, too, to advance and then try to chase the ball down,” Noone said.
While it is legal to kick the ball down the field, Noone said it is uncommon in rugby sevens, which is predicated on ball control.
“Possession is very important in sevens,” Noone said. “There’s not a lot of time. You want to possess the ball, and you want to set up one of your guys to make a break to score a try.”
Each score is called a try, and players do this by crossing into the end zone and physically touching the ball to the ground.
Tries are worth five points each and the kick after is worth two points.
Players can also score three points for penalties and drop kicks — similar to a field goal in football — but these are rare in sevens.
Players can receive penalties for forward passes.
When there is a forward pass, the ball goes out of bounds or any other stoppage of play, players meet in a scrum to begin the next possession.
The scrum consists of three players for each team who bind together. The ball is then rolled into the scrum and retrieved to restart play.
According to Noone, this fast-paced and free-flowing game is easy to understand, and he thinks people in Fairmont will really enjoy it.
“I think when people watch it they will be very excited about it,” Noone said. “And there’s not more exciting player in the world in sevens than Perry Baker.”
This story by Sean McNamara of the Times West Virginian appears here with permission. Contact McNamara at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @SMcNamaraTWV. To view the original story, click here.