Microsoft is underwriting an international tournament this week in Atlanta, solely comprising employees of the Redmond, Washington-based software giant.
Players from America, Britain, Europe, and Asia get together tomorrow for a 10-a-side competition, scheduled just prior to an annual sales meeting. The sports event helps bring together personnel from throughout the 90,000-strong organization, according to vice president Steve Guggenheimer.
Many American enthusiasts labor in hopes of embedding rugby within mainstream sporting culture. The Microsoft tournament is an interesting example of rugby's becoming part of corporate culture.
It's common enough overseas. In Britain, for example, Microsoft employees have challenged their Oracle opposites, and also taken on Microsoft France.
Back home in the Seattle area, there's a standing Wednesday touch match played using on-campus fields, as well as the odd touring match or charity event. Enthusiasts keep in touch via email circular.
Along with Guggenheimer, the executive sponsor, Nick Bell, the longtime 7s Eagle, is in the middle of the action. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed: Chief executive Steve Ballmer crowned the 2010 champions.
The well-appointed tournament has used several formats, including 15s (by hemisphere) and 7s. The 2012 approach comprises 4 match captains and teams drawn by losts, Hartlotfest-style.