by Nigel Melville
Nigel Melville Direct
The Las Vegas Sevens final on Sunday afternoon at the Sam Boyd Stadium was an outstanding exhibition of international sevens rugby, played in front of over 20,000 fans and live on NBC at 6pm eastern – a great advert for the game! If anyone questions the inclusion of rugby sevens at the Rio Olympics in 2016, send them a video of the final game between New Zealand and Samoa.
New Zealand had looked likely to dominate the event in the opening rounds, but on finals day, the tables started to turn and Samoa (who have been under fire from their fans at home) not only made the final, but were certainly not going to be intimidated by the All Blacks. With a minute or so to go in the final, New Zealand scored a try to tie the score, Samoa looked tired and extra time beckoned. When Samoa regained possession the final play of the game stretched the All Black defense left and right before a foot race to the corner resulted in a try to Samoa and victory. An excellent game, and two teams that gave everything – it was pretty remarkable to see both teams collapse on the floor at the final whistle – they had given their all.
In the women’s final the USA Eagles faced rivals Canada, another excellent contest, Canada coming out on top, but the gap between the teams has definitely closed since the teams last met in the semi finals of the Emirates Sevens in Dubai last December. With 8 of the team now in full time residency, fitness levels are rising and we have some excellent athletes in the program that will benefit from the new environment.
The Eagles men’s competition was a different story altogether, narrow losses, but losses effect confidence and their next win proved illusive. The Eagles made too many errors and made some poor decisions, yes a young team, but lessons have to be taken from this event and Hong Kong in March will be a massive challenge for the squad.
Other notable performances at the weekend for the USA included a final appearance for the High School All American’s and a first chance for many of our players to play in a sevens event of this kind.
Off the field, it was a pleasure to meet the fans, visit the fans village and watch some of the Las Vegas Invitational games on the outer fields. The youth outreach program received significant praise from the media, parents and visiting teams. The International Rugby Board, our guests from the Tier 2 Nations and HSBC Sevens Series hosts from around the world all had a wonderful week. It was great to see Samoa’s IRB representative’s reaction to the final score in the corner, tears rolling down his face as the Samoan fans raced onto the field to congratulate their players – passionate rugby people with rugby in their blood.
Over all a wonderful event, another step forward for the event and a huge thanks to Jon Prusmack for his support in making the Las Vegas Sevens such a success.
Thanks to everyone for their support and to all the staff and volunteers for their hard work, a great result for everyone and undoubtedly the best show in Las Vegas last weekend!
With an impressive resume as player, coach and administrator, Nigel David Melville took over as CEO and President of Rugby Operations of USA Rugby, the National Governing Body of the sport in America, in 2006. In addition to his full time job promoting the sport in the U.S., Melville has launched his own blog, Nigel Melville Direct, to further the discussion and his passion for what it will take to make the U.S. a great rugby playing nation.
CLICK HERE to read more on Nigel Melville
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