For most of the United States, the first weekend of June marks the unofficial start of the summer rugby sevens season.
Around the country, clubs are recruiting players and sevens tournaments are preparing to host their events.
And with the Rio Olympics fast approaching — featuring rugby sevens for the first time in history — 2016 is shaping up to be an epic summer of rugby.
But whether or not you and your team have a fun and successful summer of rugby depends on many factors that are well within your control.
In fact, avoiding just a few rookie mistakes like those outlined below will maximize your teams chance at having a great summer sevens season.
7. Forget to bring popup tents and camping chairs
Sevens events can be long affairs starting early in the morning and continuing until sunset: in the summer that could be nearly 12 hours!
So it only make sense to have a little comfort in whatever field or park is hosting the sevens event.
Pop-up tents can be purchased for $50 (on sale) and camping chairs are under $10 each (and most people have these at home already).
Do yourself a favor and make sure you bring cover from the sun or rain, and somewhere dry to sit while you tie your cleats. Don't me like Mike (see photo above) who forgot his chair and had to improvise.
Pro Tip: Some of the more luxurious camping chairs are perfectly designed for napping between matches!
6. Wait until the last minute to register your team
The best time to register your rugby team in a sevens event is ... yesterday — you can't be too early!
Early registration is cheaper and you can pick your bracket without worrying about them being full already.
And the best part is, most events have very, VERY generous refund policies. So even if you are still unsure about your roster, beg and borrow if needed to sign up for your events early.
Pro Tip: Having a schedule of paid-for events is the best way to recruit and rally your team!
5. Travel with no substitutes
Just like rugby fifteens, rugby sevens has it's fair share of injuries. And even if everyone stays healthy, the pace of sevens demands substitutions to allow teammates to rest.
Hot weather only makes substitutions more important, and many tournaments allow unlimited/rolling subs so everyone on your team can get ample playing time.
So be wise and be sure to travel with at least 10, and preferably 12 players to every event.
4. Forget to bring sun screen and water
While a tent can protect you from the elements between matches, sun screen is an absolute must to protect you during matches. Even on cloudy days, sun burns can form easily when playing 3 or more matches.
And while a sun burn may not feel be so bad during an event, most of us know from experience how uncomfortable they can be afterwards (not to mention the long-term effects).
Similarly, hot summer days require constant hydration to prevent cramping and maximize your performance. Water is best, along with fruit for nutrients. Avoid alcohol until the event is over or your team has been eliminated from play as it can cause dehydration quite quickly.
3. Cancel at the last minute or not pay your dues
There's no greater insult to your teammates than not paying your fare share of a tournament entry fee, or not showing up at the meeting point on time (or not showing up at all!).
So be sure to keep any commitments you make to your team during summer sevens.
The second worst thing you can do when you cannot make an event is to not communicate with your teammates and have them waiting around for you.
Pro-tip: If you have to cancel due to an emergency or being called into work, be sure to call your team captain or program coordinator to let them know what happened.
2. Save money by replacing jerseys with T-shirts or stretchy tank-tops
So, "that guy" on your team has a "great idea" — "Let's get some cool design on our jersey, and keep the costs down by screen printing on T-shirts! Or better yet, we can get cheap customizable compression tank tops. No one will be able to tackle us!"
I think we can all agree that cheap uniforms are usually a bad investment. And your team won't win matches because of tank-tops.
Wear your existing jerseys to promote your club and save your money for entry fees, tents and water (see above).
Pro Tip: If you are ordering new jerseys for sevens, be sure to use a trusted vendor. We recommend Rugby Athletic!
1. Taking yourself too seriously
Although rugby sevens has become a lot more formalized in the past decade, sevens tournaments remain a really fun way to experience rugby in (usually) really great weather.
And a sevens tournament usually last most of the day, allowing you to hang out and relax with your teammates a lot longer than during a typical 15s match.
Our best advice is to not take yourself or your team too seriously. Win or lose, enjoy the moment and have a blast!