Las Vegas excluded from World Sevens Series

By eric odanga
Mar 14, 2019
  • Sam Boyd Stadium will be demolished in 2020 but could host the Series next march before the event is moved to a new venue. (World Rugby)

Las Vegas, a popular venue for one of the legs of the World Rugby Sevens World Series is unlikely to host the event in 2020.

On Wednesday, World Rugby, the Rights Holder of the Series released a new look of the men’s and women’s World Rugby Sevens Series and confirmed nine of the existing venues for the men’s legs for a new four-year circle.

The USA leg which has been held at the Sam Boyd Stadium for the past 10 years was not one of them. Instead, the press statement by World Rugby indicated a venue for the USA leg will me communicated later.

On February 25, 2019, Steve Lewis, a former coach, selector, administrator and analyst hinted about the move of the tournament from Las Vegas in

Sam Boyd Stadium, the third venue in the USA after the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles and Petco Park in San Diego has been described by team officials and players as narrow and the playing surface substandard.

The other venues, Dubai, Cape Town, Hamilton, Sydney, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Paris have been retained in the ‘new look’ calendar.

During this year’s event from March 1-3, which was won by USA for the second time, there was an ominous silence about whether the venue will be retained for next year’s event before it is demolished.

Lewis, in his analysis alleged World Rugby could have been unhappy they were not in charge of this event after Jon Prusmack bought the license from USA Rugby and brought ESPN on board as a partner instead of NBC which was preferred by World Rugby.

Largest invitational tournament

The popularity of the event saw an introduction of one of the largest invitational tournaments, the Las Vegas Invitational in which close to 300 teams competed for top honors in various categories.

Although the dates of the 2019-23 have not been released, it will be interesting to see if World Rugby could allow Las Vegas to host the 2020 event before moving to a new venue as rugby insiders intimated.

The new cycle sees a belated increase in the women’s competition from six to eight legs where Glendale in Colorado and Langford (British Columbia) have been retained.

Dubai, Cape Town, New Zealand, Sydney, Hong Kong and Paris will also host the women’s Series.

An expansion of the women’s competition in an Olympic year underlines the growth of the game although a lot more needs to be done to increase the popularity and spectator interest to generate a sustainable numbers to attract sponsors and more money.

World Rugby remained silent on the format and whether the teams will be increased from the current 12.

It is because of the costs borne mainly by the hosting countries which has stunted the growth of women’s rugby.

Hosting Unions are economical with revenue figures but a constant change of venues could give a hint.

Loss made in San Francisco

When San Francisco won the bid to host last year’s Rugby World Cup sevens at the imposing AT&T Stadium, the numbers during the three-day tournament appeared encouraging although insiders said the event made a loss.

United World Sports was not on board in San Francisco.

But, the growth of the shorter version of the game has been phenomenal and the next cycle could see new frontiers for the Series.

The men’s Series was expanded to 10 rounds in 2015 and has seen a few more venues tried in Japan, Port Elizabeth and Edinburgh.

With six legs of the men’s Series played, USA (113), New Zealand (106). Fiji (101), South Africa (89) and England (80) occupy the top spots.

Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Paris are next with the top teams at the end of the season automatically qualifying for the Olympics in Tokyo together with Japan, the hosts.

The beginning of a four-year cycle will see core teams compete for a place at the Olympics to be staged at Tokyo Stadium from July 27 to August 1.

Whether Las Vegas will be given one more chance is the big question.