Rugby sevens in Las Vegas: 'Like Mardi Gras and the Olympics'

Story highlights

  • South Africa wins the U.S. leg of the Rugby Sevens World Series
  • The Springboks beat New Zealand in the deciding match in Las Vegas
  • Rugby sevens is a scaled down version rugby union
  • The World Series takes place across nine different countries

What do you get if you combine the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas with the raw power of rugby sevens?

"It's the Olympics meets Mardi Gras," says Dan Lyle, a former captain of the U.S. rugby sevens team who was in "Sin City" as it played host to the American leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series.

For the second year in a row it was South Africa left celebrating at the end of Vegas' annual sevens party.

Since 2010, Nevada has played host to the U.S. leg of a nine-stop global tour to decide which country rules this shortened version of rugby union.

And for the third time since the event moved to Vegas, South Africa emerged victorious after beating New Zealand 14-7 in Sunday's deciding match.

What is rugby sevens?
What is rugby sevens?

    JUST WATCHED

    What is rugby sevens?

MUST WATCH

What is rugby sevens? 01:16
PLAY VIDEO
The history of rugby sevens
The history of rugby sevens

    JUST WATCHED

    The history of rugby sevens

MUST WATCH

The history of rugby sevens 04:49
PLAY VIDEO

But the weekend is about more than the action on the field. It is also an opportunity for fans to gather at the Sam Boyd Stadium and revel in the carnival atmosphere.

With half-time cheerleaders and spectators in all manner of fancy dress costumes, sevens events are a spectacle on and off the pitch.

Kenyan fans arrived on mass to cheer on their team, while Fiji recruited local schoolchildren to back them over three days of competition.

South Africa's win lifted them above the All Blacks in the overall World Series standings, with five rounds of the championship remaining.

It was the second successive year in which the Springboks have beaten defending series champions New Zealand in the Vegas final, and the third consecutive year in which the Kiwis have lost the showpiece match.

Tries from Branco du Preez and Werner Kok secured the win and 22 series points for South Africa, which now leads New Zealand by one point.

New Zealand will look to reclaim top spot at its home event in Wellington, which takes place across the weekend of February 7-8.

Read: Rugby's fastest set for the NFL

Read: Rugby for men dressed as nuns?

        Rugby Sevens Worldwide

      • spc rugby sevens scottish rugby 7s_00013830.jpg

        Growing rugby in Scotland

        CNN's Christina Macfarlane looks at how the 2014 Commonwealth Games could help generate more interest in the sport.
      • Has sevens been supersized?

        Long-time rugby fans don't need graphs or charts to see that players are getting bigger -- but see how they compare to other athletes.
      • Fiji's Samisoni Viriviri was named player of the series for 2013-2014, after a season in which he scored 52 tries

        Fijian honored as NZ wins title

        New Zealand may have retained the Sevens World Series in fine style, but a Fijian claimed the honor of being named top player.
      • aisale Serevi of Fiji in action during their semi final win over New Zealand during the Credit Suisse First Boston Hong Kong Sevens being played at the Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong.

        How radio made the rugby star

        As a young child in Fiji, rugby star Waisale Serevi strained to hear tales of his heroes through the crackles of an old transistor radio.
      • Kayla McAlister of New Zealand warms up during the IRB Women's Sevens World Series at the National Rugby Centre Amsterdam Sportpark de Eendracht on May 18, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

        Sevens sister of All Black brother

        Two years ago, Kayla McAlister was playing netball. Now she's the world's best rugby sevens player, emulating her All Black sibling Luke.
      • Humphrey Kayange of Kenya celebrates with fans after winning the bowl final between Kenya and Scotland at Westpac Stadium on February 8, 2014 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

        Rugby chemist 'keeps world safe'

        By day, he dons a white lab coat and seeks to rid the world of disease. At weekends, he terrorizes opposition teams in his bright red outfit.
      • Bobsledding Olympic medalist Elana Meyers onstage at the 34th annual Salute to Women In Sports Awards at Cipriani, Wall Street on October 16, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for the Women's Sports Foundation)

        Rio mission helps beat demons

        Not only is she getting hitched this month, but Winter Olympics star Elana Meyers is hoping to wed her bobsleigh skills to an entirely different ball game.
      • Beers and cheers at HK Sevens

        The annual sporting jamboree is the highlight of the social calendar for rugby fans who flock to the Hong Kong Stadium in their thousands.
      • Akira Ioane of New Zealand scores a try under pressure from England's Tom Mitchell during the IRB Sevens World Series cup semi final match in Wellington, New Zealand.

        Jonah Lomu's heir apparent?

        His name means "bright light" in Japanese and he's already shining on the global stage. Meet the young New Zealander being hailed as the next Jonah Lomu.
      • Sport's ultimate world tour?

        It's the ultimate sporting world tour -- a combination of pace, power and partying through nine destinations. Discover the sevens circuit here...
      • Japanese fan wears Japan's colors before the 2011 Rugby World Cup pool A match France vs Japan at the North Harbour stadium in Auckland on September 10, 2011. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

        Japan: Land of the rising scrum?

        Spawned by university professors and dominated by big corporations, rugby in Japan is certainly different -- but it is also on the rise.
      • Jonah Lomu: A rugby trailblazer

        Many have matched his size, some his speed, but no-one ever combined the two to such devastating effect on a rugby field as Jonah Lomu.