Some things I did not like about the USA Sevens

thumbs downLet me make this clear up front – I have never been a fan of the USA Sevens; I’ve only been a fan of good rugby. I go to the USA Sevens every year and pay good money to attend for the aforementioned reason (good rugby) and for the chance to meet up with dear friends and family that I only get to see once every year. Aside from that the event itself seems to get progressively worse while the actual organizers seem to do more and more to fleece its patrons even while the level of the competition has gone up as evidenced by the success of teams like Kenya, Portugal and Spain who have excelled in the U.S.

But there are definitely some things that are beginning to irritate USA Sevens customers and it appears that USA Sevens organizers (American International Lifestyles) have not only been clueless about the issues, they seem to be ignoring the issues completely.

1)      Venue – This seems (to me at least) to be the root of many problems related to the growing pains experienced by the USA Sevens. Sam Boyd Stadium is a nice little field that provides access to hotels, entertainment, a myriad of food options and additional venues for the Las Vegas (rugby) Invitational. But you cannot ignore the fact that it’s still a football field trying to act like a rugby field.

2)      Parking – Parking at the stadium is horrendous. It’s a joke and a dirty one at that. By the time the tournament was over my van looked like it had gone on safari.

3)      Tickets – For the first time ever my family decided to purchase our tickets at the gate. What a mistake! My wife and kids stood in line (I had already acquired a ticket in a prior arrangement made with my sons’ teams) for an hour and a half on Saturday. There were hundreds of people who spent more time outside the stadium than they did inside because by the time they got their tickets the games they wanted to watch were over. Meanwhile TWO ticket agents took their time, were rude to some customers when they were asked questions and absolutely ignored other customers who asked to have another window opened up.

4)      Pricing – Since we’re on the subject of tickets, how do the organizers and USA Rugby justify increasing the ticket sales every single year without actually improving the quality of their product? You haven’t sold out a stadium so demand isn’t really a problem yet. You’re still giving me the same number of games but you’ve spread it out over three days instead of two which means I have to spend more money on hotels, rentals, etc., to appease the cities you’re catering to. You aren’t giving me any major deals on said accommodations and meals so that’s not it. I just can’t figure out how tickets continue to get more and more expensive. Inflation? Maybe but if that’s the case get rid of the third day and let’s go back to the two-day format will you?

5)      Concessions – This is an international tournament so please have international meal choices available for the fans. I understand that you have contracted concessions (and yes the prices are always going to be outrageous) there at the stadium but at least allow more choices outside in the vendor/marketplace.

6)      Vendors/Marketplace – This has been a huge pet peeve of mine from the very beginning. I understand that the organizers and their sponsors are trying to make their money but does that also mean that no one else, specifically the vendors who have purchased space at the three-day event is allowed to make money as well? They have essentially banned vendors from selling any apparel in or around the stadium. I don’t know about you but would you buy a Samoan DVD or a Fijian kava bowl to wave around in the air when your team is playing? Not me – I go there to buy something that says Samoa, NZ, Fiji even Irish with my countries specific designs, motifs and flare not something generic with the words “USA Sevens” prominently displayed on my shirt or hoodie that was made in Singapore and does not accurately portray my fierce loyalty to my countrymen.

7)      Entertainment – How many years have Kenya been involved in this tournament and all you can come up with is nonspecific African bongos when they score a try? You don’t hear bagpipes playing when Scotland scores and you don’t hear harps and fiddles when the Irish score and do you think the English want UB40’s rendition of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” playing every time you scan the crowd and see an English flag flapping in the wind? And we certainly don’t want to see a bunch of scantily clad women dancing hip-hop or some goof and his girlfriend getting married in between matches. Get creative and get the crowd involved and for Pete’s sake get an announcer who knows what the hell he’s talking about. You would never get away with that in an NFL, NBA, MLB not even an MLS match so why do you think it’s acceptable at a rugby tournament that’s seen around the world?

Yes I know that there is a whole unopened bag of reasons why the tournament is fun but I also have to say that the tournament is only fun because of the reasons I stated at the beginning of this rant. The teams and the fans have created the atmosphere, not the organizers. While you’re busy collecting your money, we are out there cheering and spending more money to make this event successful and guess what? We will keep coming back if only for those two reasons. But if the organizers don’t make some drastic changes to maintain the ground that they have made in hosting this tournament, then perhaps we may have to decide if spending our money this June at the Grand Prix Rugby Championship in Los Angeles will be a better option.

11 thoughts on “Some things I did not like about the USA Sevens

  1. I agree with you 100%! Unfortunately I didn’t attend this year, I can totally understand what you are talking about!

    1. Thanks Maile – this is becoming the general consensus in the stands. I hear these same complaints from people of all backgrounds and economic situations. I love the rugby, but the tournament itself is deteriorating every year. Let’s get it right USA Rugby or we’re going to lose out because of your ineptitude.

  2. I was very disappointed this year with the Saturday night concert @ The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Very unorganized and Fiji didn’t even perform. They shut the venue down due to “over capacity” – the Organizers weren’t keeping a count of folks coming in. They got their money and we were robbed again. Get it together folks!

  3. I felt this way last year but the Manu win took my annoyance with the venue away. Something that was disturbing to me…. I watched Sunday’s cup finals and was taken back when the announcer for NBC says “an absolute white-washing by South Africa…” a real WTF moment for me as an American. Obviously this guy has not seen Invictus or had any history outside of US history. Totally agree with the souvenir aspect and the music is SHIT! Fire all DJ’s across the US that play the same tracks from 20 years ago and expect the same lift in crowd response. Elo Lahi! Go Ikale Tahi! Go The Manu! Go Fiji! Go All-Blacks!

    1. It just goes to show the ignorance of American media when it comes to an international sport that requires a very trained eye and an understanding of the rich history of a sport, especially one that pre-dates the NFL and NBA. American commentators often ignore the subtleties of the game and prefer to inject their own dogma in the commentary rather than stating the facts which usually lands them in trouble because they are more interested in sounding clever instead of concentrating on the game and its participants. I’m okay with playing some oldies but how exactly can you get a crowd going with “Sweet Caroline” ten times in one day? And the stink guy who runs out with the dancers to pump up the crowd is just that – stink!

  4. Related to point 4.
    The 3 day spread gives the teams who make the final in New Zealand that much less time to get themselves up for play in Las Vegas.

    England and Kenya were very disappointing at Sam Boyd and that was (in part at least) down to the travel schedule and amount of time between their extra-time final in Wellington & their first games in Las Vegas.

    The New Zealand final finished at about 10pm on Saturday night. Add 20-30 minutes for the presentation ceremony + walk around the fans at the end. Then there’s the emotional high/low of winning or losing before getting sleep on Saturday night (if any).

    Rest Sunday, then teams flew out on Monday.

    They took the long way via Australia (adding 7+ hours to the trip) to arrive in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

    They get 2.5 days to get over their travel, get used to local conditions (including a playing field 12 metres narrower than in Wellington – your first point) then play 2 games on Friday.

    England’s tournament was over on Friday & Kenya’s after their first game on Saturday. Both teams were too emotionally & mentally exhausted to compete at their best.

    Not great value for money for those who paid (and traveled) to support those teams.

    1. Rest is a definite factor at this stage of the Series. This is just the first of three back-to-back comps leading up to the Asia (Hong Kong and Japan) and the final leg in Europe (Scotland and England). We saw fatigue and injury become major factors on several of the top teams but the boys still gave it their all. Overall I think the back-to-back comps are, as you mention in your response, a detriment to the Series because the level of the comp suffers just as the players suffer from exhaustion. A week to rejuvenate and rehab would go a long way to helping both the players and the level of competition.

      Great thoughts

  5. Been to all the Sevens since they have come to America from LA to San Diego to Las Vegas. By far Vegas is the worst. The field is to narrow for rugby. When you sit on the sides and a player runs along the sideline you cant see them while you are sitting. San Diego was the best. You could walk to the venue and everything was right there. Also it was a place you could take your family.

    1. San Diego still has my vote too. Great field, good facilities, close to great entertainment and a much better staff all around. Plenty of parking and yes its a great place to take your family. The only real setbacks with San Diego in my opinion is hotels, freeway access and fewer flights in and out per day. Other than that, top notch.

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