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.
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.