Reported on http://www.thisisamericanrugby.com
Update: We got word today that the IRB has approved the continued use of Sam Boyd’s Stadium dimensions. That should improve, if not seal, Vegas’s chances of keeping their spot on the series.
According to a report from the Agence France Presse (the French version of the AP) Las Vegas and the United States is set to lose it’s leg on the IRB Sevens Series beginning in the 2015-16 season. Vancouver, which has long been rumored to get a stop is set to replace Vegas while Singapore will take Tokyo’s spot and Paris will take Glasgow’s spot. The last two have been rumored and essentially confirmed for awhile while the straight swap for Vegas and Vancouver is new.
It should be stressed that ourselves and others are still digging into this report to get confirmation. Originally the plan was to see the IRB Sevens Series expand to 10 teams for next season but if this report is accurate it will remain at nine. Discussions over the tournament have been on going for a number of months and an announcement was expected a few weeks ago but never happened suggesting that things are still being hashed out.
There have been rumblings for awhile that the IRB was not happy with the choice of Vegas as a stop on the Series. Apparently the fact that Vegas is party central and took away from the atmosphere of the actual tournament was a factor along with the quality of stadium, especially the size of the pitch. There have also been rumblings that the IRB did not like working with United World Sports although that is not confirmed.
The loss of the Vegas stop would come as a surprise. It is one of the more well attended tournaments on the Series and represents a key market for the IRB. With the success of the All Blacks match, Premiership interest in America, etc., you would think the IRB would not be interested in losing out on a potentially large fan base. However, the tournament’s attendance has stagnated over the last few years and the television audience has never been large.
Losing out in favor or Canada will stop a lot of momentum for rugby in the United States and would put the future of the Las Vegas Invitational up in the air. That tournament is vital in that in brings together many of the top teams, men and women, young and old, in one place. That’s something we don’t get a lot of in America. It would also mean that the Vancouver 7s would potentially be paired with the Wellington 7s, making for another long flight, something players and coaches have complained about.
Aside from rugby fans that have grown to love Las Vegas 7s, the biggest loser in this scenario is United World Sports as they would be losing their biggest property. The Collegiate Rugby Championship has yet to turn a profit and while the Varsity Cup is successful it’s hard to see the company still operating the way it does without the Las Vegas 7s.
Again, this situation is still in flux and it may turn out to be that the AFP report is premature and Vegas stays on the Series.
Still, the fact that it is even a question should be worrying to fans.