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PETCO PARK

Once upon a time in America, the big international sevens event was played in San Diego. In February of 2009, the third year the tournament was held there, it marked the last stop on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Circuit before the Sevens Rugby World Cup in Dubai in March. (Won, surprisingly by Wales over Argentina.)

The USA sevens started out in Los Angeles before it was purchased by United World Sports, and moved to San Diego in 2007. The city had a substantial rugby presence, wonderful hospitality offerings via the famous San Diego Zoo, Old Town dining area, Coronado Hotel, and easy access to Mexico via a short drive to the border.

The USA 7s was played inside Petco Park, home to the Major League San Diego Padres, which provided excellent sight lines to the pitch.

The 2009 tournament saw England beat South Africa 22-19 in the Cup semis, while Argentina defeated the USA 19-14. (It marked the Eagles first semi-final sevens appearance in eight-years.) Los Pumas prevailed in the finale, defeating England 19-14 for the win.

The three-year contract with Petco Park expired in 2009, leading United World Sports to consider other cities to host the tournament. In the six weekend days of the three-years, the weather numbered three days of sunshine, two overcast days, and one rain drizzle. But the Monday after the 2009 event, a torrential downpour hit southern California, flooding roads from Los Angeles down to the border. Had the rain occurred a day earlier on the Sunday, the rugby matches would have been washed out.

A climate analysis indicated that the first week in February in San Francisco showed lower temperatures than San Diego and greater chances for some rain. Only Dallas and Phoenix offered more sunshine in early February along with better weather.  But neither city presented itself as a “destination” spot for a fun rugby tournament.

Enter Las Vegas. It started with an inquiry from the Marketing Manager of the Hard Rock Café who was also President of the Las Vegas Black Jacks RFC. "Any interest in seeing what the city could offer?" After a few visits by United World Sports executives, and multiple meetings with the tourist-oriented gatekeepers in the city, the decision was finalized to move the tournament to Las Vegas.

The cliché is “third time’s the charm,” which happened to be true for the USA sevens event, finding a successful home in Las Vegas after two prior stops in Los Angeles and San Diego.