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The USA 7s was as big and beautiful an event as organizers could have hoped for. The games were thrilling as usual, the weather cooperated, being warm but not stifling, and no rain.

And the fans.

The fans were loud, smiling, and numerous.

Paid attendance for Sunday was 25,032. Add to Saturday’s gate of 24,877 makes a total of 49,909, just 91 short of 50,000.

The attendance was a massive increase over 2010, by the order of 36%. By all accounts the fans really embraced the event, and made the 2011 USA 7s the biggest and most commercially successful rugby event ever.

(During the days when some colleges banned football in the early part of the 20th Century, some college rugby teams drew huge crowds. We are measuring the event outside of that period.)

“I think the event underwent is undergoing a dramatic upwardly mobile pathway,” said USA 7s Tournament Director Dan Lyle. “The NBC people called it the tipping point and the crescendo comes in the Olympics. We’ve started moving in the right direction, commercially, in attendance, and really in the way the event is perceived by rugby and non-rugby people alike.”