Rugby Sevens welcomed to Las Vegas
All 16 participating teams at this year's USA Sevens, the fourth leg of the 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World Series, were welcomed to Las Vegas in style as they walked down the red carpet during the Fremont Street Parade of Nations on the eve of the tournament.
After addresses from USA Sevens Tournament Director Dan Lyle, IRB CEO/Secretary General Mike Miller and the Mayor of Las Vegas Oscar Goodman, the 16 teams greeted the fans, signed autographs and posed for photos.
The USA Sevens, which takes place on 12-13 February at the Sam Boyd Stadium, is in its second year in Las Vegas having moved from San Diego in 2010 and this year the tournament will also be broadcast live on NBC for the first time.
"It has been a fantastic event. A lot of people came out, I think a bigger crowd than last year and hopefully it will lead to a good tournament this weekend," said England's James Rodwell, who will be playing in the tournament's first match at 09:24 local time against Guyana.
"It is really nice for the crowd to get quite close to the teams. On the pitch obviously there is the barrier and things so it is a really nice welcome from the city and it is good for them too."
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It was the second street parade in as many weeks as the 16 teams at the 2011 NZI Sevens also took part in a parade of nations on Lambton Quay, Wellington.
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The hosts New Zealand went on to win at the Westpac Stadium and head coach Gordon Tietjens acknowledged the impact this weekend's tournament - which is being aired on NBC and Universal Sports live for the first time - could have on Rugby Sevens in the USA.
"It is great. We have had two parades two weeks in a row now, a great one in Wellington and also a great one now here in USA. The USA people are really getting in to supporting the parade, supporting rugby and it is awesome," added Tietjens.
"I think for the USA if they want to grow the sport they need to get a lot of support out there and for the guys to really put on a great display of Sevens rugby.
"If they can do that then the Game will grow here. There are a lot of athletes out here that are for real and once they get more numbers playing the Game they will become a real strength in Sevens rugby."
You can still buy tickets for the 2011 USA Sevens. More information is available on www.usasevens.com.
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