Las Vegas will welcome the world of Sevens this weekend as the USA Sevens' move from San Diego is finally upon us. Since the announcement in October and the beginning of this year’s IRB Sevens World Series, the excitement has been bubbling nicely for the City of Sin to take centre stage.
Las Vegas will welcome the world of Sevens this weekend as the USA Sevens' move from San Diego is finally upon us.
Since the announcement in October and the beginning of this year’s IRB Sevens World Series, the excitement has been bubbling nicely for the City of Sin to take centre stage.
But it has not all been plain sailing, however, as tournament director, Dan Lyle, told UR7s’ Robin Heymann.
Many of you might remember Lyle from his Leicester and Bath days as a burly forward, but he began his rugby career in Sevens, playing in several events in 1994.
As an advocate of the sport which he says is part and parcel of the learning curve for any rugby player, he jumped at the opportunity to be involved with USA Sevens where he began as project coordinator before becoming Tournament Director of the USA Sevens event.
The move to Las Vegas was met by some sceptics in America, and they will remain, due to the success of the San Diego event.
San Diego is more than 300 miles from Las Vegas and for those who have got used to the setup in Southern California, especially the locals who helped make it a much bigger success than Los Angeles - demonstrated with sell out crowds - may have questioned why USA Sevens wanted to move when they had the option.
However Lyle believes that those who had the event in their back yard will acknowledge the business side of the move and not only will it give people an excuse to go to Las Vegas that they may not have had before, once the event begins the reasons behind the move will be even clearer to those sceptics.
“Vegas is a very easy place for them to get to. It is a destination people in America are all used to getting to,” said the Tournament Director.
“Vegas is a place that people don’t need an excuse to go too, but it gives one if needed. By and large, the majority of people have been overwhelmingly supportive, and people who fly from UK, Canada or Australia, are very excited, because flights are cheaper and is much more accessible.”
Different dyanamic from Las Vegas
Of course Lyle, who holds San Diego very close to his heart will also miss the event, especially as it helped the growth of Sevens in America and as a leg on the IRB Sevens World Series.
However, when Las Vegas was one of the cities that liked Lyle’s demographic and approached him with an interesting package, added to the destination, the decision was easy.
The Sam Boyd Stadium will help the potential that is already there – let it be said that Las Vegas could go on to become one the best legs on the tour, matching the atmosphere of Hong Kong, with the on field action of Dubai with the LVI and CCS living proof that Las Vegas has the foundations - with a capacity of over 36,000 it is used to hosting big events including Monster Truck and Supercross.
“I think we had a world class facility in San Diego and that was something very positive, but it doesn’t have the destination of Las Vegas,” added Lyle.
“Las Vegas was one of the cities to come to us with interest when it came to our option year. Rugby Sevens is an entertainment orientated event and a world class sport, and that is what Las Vegas puts across to the world.
“It is an iconic place with some of the best entertainment in the world and with their business case put forward to us, one that we can build on, we felt it was a great place for us to be with the true entertainment pieces from golfing to gambling to the nightlife that Vegas has.
“If you put Sevens down and you say what cities you would go to, Las Vegas will be in the top four and very quickly. We are finally in a place where we can truly compete with the top three events (HK, Dubai and Wellington).”
Competing with those three events is certainly very optimistic without the event even having begun, but then that is exactly what Lyle is.
Ahead of schedule
Despite not selling out yet, the former US Eagle, said they are ahead of schedule in terms of hotels and flights booked and has his fingers crossed that there will be a bigger crowd than San Diego to put a platform down for where they want to be next year – the sceptics will of course not keep quiet until 2011 if this doesn’t happen.
It will take time to develop, as any brand new event does, but it is an exciting time for USA Sevens, especially with the inaugural CCS and LVI running concurrently, one of a handful of initiatives Lyle has put together.
“We have expanded our invitational event and those fields surround the stadium, so the festival will really add a lot of value to everybody. Starting on Thursday we have almost turned into a three and a half day event.
“There will also be a free shuttle service from all the partner hotels, including Hard Rock. The ground is about six miles from the strip so this allows you to wake up, have breakfast, and go and get a shuttle. You can just worry about having fun - it’s Vegas – and the stadium will feel like the strip.
The coverage on network television has also grown since last year when the San Diego event had a greater number of viewers than MLS and NHL and that word legacy has also been in operation with the event working with local schools and teaching the sport for the first time in elementary schools, and certifying teachers with rugby coaching courses.
“Las Vegas will become another home for rugby in the US,” finished Lyle.
Another home, or the home, be sure not to miss this weekend’s Las Vegas Sevens, which will be a weekend to remember, one way or another.
Catch up on all the action from USA Sevens this weekend (13-14 Feb) with UR7s’ Live Text Commentary from Las Vegas.
Got a Rugby Sevens question? Want to know more about the IRB Sevens World Series or any aspect of the sport? Former England captain Andy Vilk will be offering his expert opinion in answering all your queries in the aftermath of the USA Sevens. Send all your questions to Andy by emailing email@example.com