Sevens Rugby returns to LA

By eric odanga
Aug 10, 2019
  • Sevens Rugby returns to Los Angeles after 16 years. (Photo Courtesy World Rugby)

Sixteen years after the USA first hosted a leg of the re-named World Rugby Sevens World Series, the fourth leg of the tournament returns to Los Angeles for the first time since 2004.

The return to LA, the country’s center of film and television industry is strategic after World Rugby ended a nine-year sojourn in Las Vegas.

Strategic because LA will host the 2028 Olympics and Sevens Rugby will be one of the disciplines after the shorter version of the game was reintroduced in Sao Paulo in 2016.

LA hosted the event at the Home Depot Center in Carson in 2004 and 2005 under the stewardship of USA Rugby who were unable to ensure profitability.

According to the records, the United World Sports bought the rights from USA Rugby in 2006. Since then, the event has been held at PETCO Park in San Diego before finding a new home at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.

The reasons for a move to LA from Vegas are complex depending on who, among the rugby fraternity you talk to. They could range from marketing, size of the pitch and surface at Sam Boyd Stadium to contractual considerations.

Entertainment destination

At least, for the next four years, LA will try to fit into the shoes of Las Vegas which attracted an array of fans because of its’ allure. Obviously, Sevens Rugby is an entertainment which fits the bill of LA as an entertainment destination.

The city has only seven months to market the tournament and ensure the rising numbers which attracted fans to Las Vegas would have been sufficient to see them troop to LA. Rugby experts say it may take more than two years to convince fans to travel to the new venue.

A change of venue is not something new. South Africa, Australia and New Zealand are some of the countries where World Rugby has moved the tournament to new venues.

When the new season kicks off on October 5 and 6 at Infinity Park, Colorado (USA) with the women’s competition, players and fans will usher in a few changes. Six tournaments will be combined as teams use each stop to ensure qualification for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

Ireland and Brazil are the new core teams in the men's and women’s categories which has seen the women's tournaments increased to eight from six.

Already, hosts Japan, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, and Brazil have qualified in the women’s category.

In the men’s category, Japan, Fiji, USA, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, Canada and Great Britain have qualified.

Combined Calendar

October 5-6, 2019: Infinity Park, Colorado (USA) - Women.

December 5-7, 2019: The Sevens, Dubai (UAE) - Men and Women.

December 13-15, 2019: Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town (South Africa) - Men and Women.

January 25-26, 2020: FMG Stadium, Hamilton (New Zealand) - Men and Women.

February 1-2, 2020: Bankwest Stadium, Sydney (Australia) - Men and Women.

February 29-March 1, 2020: Dignity Health Sports Park, Los Angeles (USA) - Men.

March 7-8, 2020: BC Place Stadium, Vancouver (Canada) - Men.

April 3-5, 2020: Hong Kong Stadium, (Hong Kong) - Men and Women.

April 11-12, 2020: National Stadium, (Singapore) - Men.

May 2-3, 2020: Westhills Stadium, Langford, (Canada) - Women.

May 23-24, 2020: Twickenham Stadium, London (England) - Men.

May 30-31, 2020: Stade Jean-Bouin, Paris (France) - Men and Women.

July 27-August 1, 2020: Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Tokyo, (Japan).