Kansas City rugby 7’s players eyeing Olympic games

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- As if traditional rugby wasn't tough enough, now there is rugby 7's.

It's a new Olympic sport in Rio this year. Extremely intense and physically grueling. The KC Blues rugby 7's team played a tournament in Kansas City today. There were several players on the field who are making a run at Team USA in 2020.

"It's an awesome display of fitness, power, and speed with a little skill mixed in" says tournament director Peter Kowalski.

Instead of 15 players on each side, as in traditional rugby, there are only seven on a full-sized field.

Kowalski says, "Its an incredibly demanding sport. These players are covering a lot of ground at high speeds and getting hit while they are doing it."

The game is short and fast with seven minute halves and no time-outs.

KC Blues player Kenny Scott says "Its non-stop for 14 minutes. You just go at it."

When a player scores it's called a "try," worth five points with the chance at a two point conversion kick.

Scott grew up in Kansas City. He is already 27 years old, but would love to go to Tokyo in four years.

"Everyone has an aspiration to play for their country in the Olympics. That would be huge."

Walt Elder is also a KC Blues 2020 hopeful. He got his start playing football.

"With football you are wearing pads and a helmet and feel you can do anything. Hit anything. Run through anything. That is not the case with rugby. "

Players take plenty of hits. Almost everyone has suffered an injury.

Elder says, "I was knocked out cold last fall. There are definitely risks, lots of hard hitting and contact."

The players seem to thrive on the action and intensity. Several local athletes are hoping to chase their Olympic dreams into the try zone in Tokyo for the next summer games.

Saturday's tournament was one of three that determine who qualifies to go to the national tournament. The final qualifying tournament is in Salt Lake City on July 23.