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Successful USA 7s, But What's Next?

Int'l News

Successful USA 7s, But What's Next?

Alex Goff photo.

The USA 7s will undergo some changes in 2016, following after what seems to be the tournament's best long weekend yet.

World Rugby, USA Rugby, United World Sports, and Las Vegas Events have already conducted a meeting in which all parties seemed to come to a rare agreement. The USA 7s is growing, and the growth is something many tournaments are not seeing on the same scale. USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville reportedly stood up for the tournament in what can only be seen as an olive branch between the two organizations.

Meanwhile, Las Vegas Events and UNLV are making an investment in Sam Boyd Stadium. The dugouts on the side of the field will be ground to dust and the field, now at about 59 meters wide, will be widened to a more acceptable 63-64 meters. Currently, USA Rugby has an official waiver from World Rugby that allows the governing body to host test matches on fields 10% narrower than the accepted 70 meters. That means that a 63-meter Sam Boyd field would finally be in compliance.

The Sam Boyd grass surface is also expected to be replaced by World Rugby-approved artificial turf. The Las Vegas tournament will be paired with Vancouver in 2015-16, and Vancouver's BC Place is slated to host the Canadian leg. BC Place has an artificial surface.

And finally, the USA 7s will move to the middle of March (such as March 11-12-13) for Round 6, with Vancouver hosting the week before.

What this move would mean for Las Vegas is three-fold: USA 7s has to foot the bill for travel for teams from the previous venue. Flights from Vancouver to Las Vegas are orders of magnitude cheaper than flights from New Zealand. Secondly, the Las Vegas Invitational could be affected, but potentially in a positive way. Tournaments in February can be a good warmup for teams from California and Tennessee, but many teams in the Midwest and from colder climes might like a March run-out more.

And the big question-mark is Canada. Canadian fans are a huge part of the USA 7s. And while plenty of fans from Edmonton will still think a trip to Vegas is desirable, rugby people from British Columbia may well decide to support their home tournament instead.