By Sarah Mockford, Rugby World Features Editor
I’ve been in Las Vegas less than 24 hours but it’s already become clear that this city lives up to its reputation. They certainly knows how to party in Vegas and they tend to do things on a grander scale than anywhere else.
So what’s this got to do with rugby? Well, the USA Seven is taking place in Vegas this weekend and they are hoping to make their event as popular as the Dubai and Hong Kong tournaments. And they seem to have all the ingredients for success. The Sam Boyd Stadium is a fantastic venue, fans have been drawn from all over and – as you’d expect for Vegas – there’s a real party atmosphere. The fact that Sin City is an attraction in itself is sure help attract more fans as the event grows in popularity.
My hotel here is called The Cosmopolitan and the crowd here certainly lives up to that description. As well as the expected support for USA and Canada, there are plenty of fans cheering on the likes of England, Argentina, South Africa and Samoa. Flags from across the 16 competing nations fly proudly under Nevada’s clear blue sky – and they’re making the most of the international fan festival at the venue, where you can sample food from all 16 competing countries.
Rugby might not be the biggest sport in America, but the fact the Sevens is being televised live on NBC for the first time is sure to grow its supporter base, especially when they see the atmosphere being generated at the stadium. The tournament has even got its own set of cheerleaders – the Super Sevens Sweethearts. It seems a sport isn’t a sport in the States unless you have scantily-clad girls dancing on the pitch!
England bought into the party spirit too – wearing their ‘Tequlia Sunrise’ shirts as they sealed their passage to the quarter-finals with a narrow 17-14 win over Argentina to top Pool A. They’d made far easier work of their earlier opponents, seeing off Guyana 49-0 – Tom Powell scoring four tries – and beating France 33-14.