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With two-months remaining until the 2018 HSBC World Rugby Las Vegas Sevens on March 2,3, and 4, it’s timely to go back to 2004 and to the first USA Sevens event held in Carson, California, at the Home Depot Stadium. The initial US-based tournament generated a national first also when Argentina defeated New Zealand for Los Pumas first IRB sevens circuit title.
The event was named after the sponsor: The Team ROC USA Sevens, which was a not-for-profit community outreach program. The funding came from its commercial enterprises, consisting of clothing, vodka, films, and other initiatives.
Sixteen international teams participated, playing in four pools of four teams each. England were the pre-event favorite, utilizing the splendid play of sevens ace Ben Gollings. The Kiwis lead in the total circuit points for that season, where England were second.
The Argentineans went undefeated in Pool D, beating Chile, Kenya, and a surprising 33-5 thrashing of Fiji. Then, Los Pumas shutout France 17-0 in the quarter-finals to advance to the semi-final round. There, Argentina defeated Samoa 17-12 in overtime. The final witnessed an easy victory over the All Blacks 21-12, the New Zealand squad having experienced a desperate, come-from-behind 15-12 win over Fiji. England took the Plate trophy after romping 55-0 against Canada. Australia narrowly beat Kenya 33-31 for the Bowl.
The USA took the Shield with a win over Korea 29-22, and ended the tournament 3-3. In pool play, the Eagles (coached by Mike Coyner) were shutout twice; England 55-0 and Western Samoa 17-0. The sole pool win came against Trinidad and Tobago 31-12.
The attendance for the inaugural tournament totaled 7,300, the event then operated by USA Rugby. The USA Sevens would return to Carson City on two more occasions before United World Sports (Jon Prusmack) bought the event, moved it to San Diego (Petco Park baseball stadium) for three-years before settling it in Las Vegas in 2010 where it has flourished.