Hastings: Fantastic show in Las Vegas
TV commentator and former British and Irish Lion, Scott Hastings, looks back to the USA Sevens in his latest column for irbsevens.com.
Congratulations firstly to USA Rugby for putting on such a fantastic show. Secondly, congratulations to South Africa too on winning it, their second title in three years at the Sam Boyd Stadium.
Everybody goes on about the tightness of the pitch, but that just puts different challenges on these phenomenal athletes, but it was Paul Treu's side who played the most solid Sevens over the three days, and their emotions at the end demonstrated the amount of work put in.
Five different winners in five tournaments, from a Series standings point of view, is just fascinating, and it makes it all the more interesting ahead of Hong Kong and Tokyo.
I must say the two semi finals, and the third/fourth play-off, to go into extra time, and to be the spectacle they were, just shows the level of fitness and skills this game brings out of people.
When you think any number of teams can win a title, that is down to the work behind the scenes too now. The education, the analysis, each team goes home and works on fitness, patterns of play, and every aspect of their game.
As we saw in Las Vegas, every victory is by the smallest of margins, and these players work so that they can be converted. For example, touch line conversions, and missed conversions, they proved so decisive. USA could have progressed further had they nailed a couple more, and often matches are won and lost like that.
SA win in Vegas highlights
The teamwork of South Africa was so evident, and they were helped by their leader Frankie Horne, and stalwarts Paul Delport and Chris Dry, who were named in the commentators' dream team at the end of the tournament.
That is another exciting element to the Sevens, and that is how fans can get involved. I joined Twitter (@scotthastings13) and had fun getting involved with #USA7s. Fans can now have their say on the best try of the tournament, and it is great to be part of this family.
Other players shone too, with the likes of Joji Raqamate and Samisoni Viriviri of Fiji lighting up the pitch, and the influential Samoan captain Afa Aiono leading with brilliant commitment. Superstars were created too, with Carlin Isles the crowd favourite living up to his billing as rugby's fastest player. He epitomizes the future of the sport, it is box-office, and it is fantastic to be involved in.
Even my home country Scotland under Stephen Gemmell have made progress over the last couple of weeks. They have pulled themselves out of the relegation spots, which are made even more important as we head to Hong Kong. Spain, Portugal, they will all come out firing too.
Without doubt, all the players look upon it as the premier tournament. 45,000 fans a day, which I hear has sold out already, and three more days of fascinating action, made all the more interesting with the qualifying tournament for the relegation/promotion tournament in London.
And I am sure Mike Friday will have something to say to his Kenya team. Finalists one week, along with England and struggling the next. That is no disrespect to the teams, it just shows how difficult it is to be consistent and maintain continuity in this Sevens tournament.
But as I have said before, this sport is only going to get bigger and better, and I cannot wait to see you in Hong Kong!
8-10 February 2013
Venue: Sam Boyd Stadium
City: Las Vegas