4/12: Rugby Bowl at WestWorld of Scottsdale

The Arizona State University varsity men’s rugby club is about to play in front of the biggest audience it’s ever seen. About 2,500 people are expected at the inaugural Rugby Bowl, compared with the club’s typical max of 800 or so spectators.

To cope with their nerves before the game, the ruggers will do what they always do while riding the bus to a game: Sing along.

” ‘Sweet Caroline’ can elevate morale and alleviate the stress,” said Tommy Boyle, the club’s president and captain. “It could be anything, like traditional rugby songs, but also songs from our childhood off the radio.”

The club will face off against Brigham Young University at the Fiat of Scottsdale Rugby Bowl: Spikes Spokes, which will include sideline tailgating, tents reserved for fans of each team, a beer garden and live music, as well as a motorcycle display.

It’s put on by the same people behind the Scottsdale Ferrari-Maserati Polo Championships: Horses Horsepower, a mix of polo and exotic automobiles that drew more than 12,000 spectators in November.

Boyle hopes the event will draw attention to rugby, which is growing in popularity in the U.S. and will be included in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

STORY: 4/12: Spikes Spokes offers rugby, gourmet grub

“I’ve seen the sport grow exponentially since I started playing eight years ago,” said Boyle, 22, a senior in exercise and wellness at ASU. “The Fiat of Scottsdale Rugby Bowl is going to bring a tremendous amount of awareness to the sport, especially in the Valley, where it’s very much a developing aspect.

“I’m personally especially excited because this is the biggest rugby platform I’ve ever seen, especially on the collegiate level.”

Event organizer Jason Rose said the Rugby Bowl is a way to bring the fun of the polo match into the spring.

“There’s no marquee event (for rugby) in the state of Arizona, so, just as we’ve been able to expand the appeal of polo, we saw the same possibility with rugby, but with a few different twists,” Rose said.

Those twists include live music, which the polo tournament doesn’t have, and a variety of seating, including five retro barbershop chairs, lounge chairs from Paddock Pools and a couch from Well Suited, which is owned by My Sister’s Closet.

Gates open at 11:30 a.m. with youth rugby matches and music from Whiskey’s Quicker, a rock band whose members include Dan Bickley of azcentral sports. The match starts at 1:10 p.m., and at halftime, viewers can participate in a tug-of-war competition. The Keltic Cowboys will perform after the match.

The field will be surrounded by tailgaters, general-admission stands, food trucks, vendors and four tents in a row: one each for BYU fans, ASU fans, VIP ticket holders and beer drinkers. There will be a small Scottsdale Cigar Club lounge as well.

Motorcycles will be on display behind the tents. Harley-Davidson of Scottsdale and Paul Yaffe’s Bagger Nation will display a few bikes for visitors to check out, and anyone who brings a motorcycle gets in with a $5 donation to Bikers for Boobies at the door.

All the added activities are fun, Boyle said, but the rugby alone is enough to draw viewers.

“When you aren’t familiar with rugby, it looks like organized chaos,” he said. “For most people, I challenge them and say, ‘Come watch it once,’ and people are sold.”

Fiat of Scottsdale Rugby Bowl: Spikes Spokes details: Doors open 11:30 a.m., match starts 1:10 p.m. Saturday, April 12. WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 N. Pima Road, northeast of Loop 101 and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard. Admission is $12-$100 in advance; $18-$65 at the door; $8 for ages 7-14; free for military personnel and age 6 or younger. 480-423-1414, therugbybowl.com.

Reach the reporter at kaila.white@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-4307.

Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/entertainment/events/2014/04/11/rugby-bowl-westworld-scottsdale/7611095/