USA Rugby fans get ready for Boyd Stadium party By Sarah Feldberg / February 11, 2016 Share 1 USA Men’s Eagles’ Carlin Isles, a former track star, has been dubbed “the world’s fastest rugby player.” Photo Credit: Courtesy of USA Sevens -- Every spring, there's a party at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. It's a raucous, rollicking celebration filling the stands with fans wearing more than a dozen colors, sending songs and chants rising above the field. The mood is joyful, the fans friendly, the beer definitely flowing. Then a drunk Jesus walks by with an elephant.Welcome to USA Sevens rugby. USA Sevens, arriving in Las Vegas from March 4 to 6, is a stop on the annual HSBC Sevens World Series, an international rugby tournament that features teams from 17 countries and plays rounds in 10 cities across the globe. Unlike traditional rugby, seven players take the pitch for each side, and matches last just 14 minutes, divided into two seven-minute halves. Games are fast-paced and furious, full of breakaway sprints and exciting tries. It's sevens rugby that will be on display at the Olympic Games this summer in Rio de Janeiro, the first time rugby has been an Olympic sport since the U.S. won the gold medal in 1924.Fans at the tournament often dress in team colors or in Halloween-style costumes. Photo Credit: Courtesy of USA Sevens The fans at USA Sevens are also highly entertaining. With pockets devoted to each team scattered throughout the stadium, the stands at Sam Boyd resemble an abstract mosaic. National cheers and fight songs erupt depending on the game, and unaffiliated attendees will often find themselves welcomed into the nearest fan base, rooting on South Africa or Scotland regardless of their actual nationality. Everywhere you look there are people in costumes, dressed as religious figures or exotic animals or Hello Kitty apropos of exactly nothing. "Rugby fans in particular are very … let's say, colorful. They like to have a good time," said Jeff McDowell, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of United World Sports, the owner and operator of the USA Sevens event. "But they're also very respectful of one another. It's sort of different than soccer in that regard. There's never a fight in the stadium. It's just a big party, a big international party."Launched in 1999, the HSBC World Series first came to the U.S. in 2004, setting up in Carson City, Nev., and San Diego before landing in Las Vegas in 2010.Sam Boyd Stadium should have close to 80,000 fans for the USA Sevens tournament in March. Photo Credit: Courtesy of USA Sevens "Given the electricity of rugby sevens, its international appeal, Las Vegas was really the perfect backdrop for such a world-class event," McDowell said. In 2015, USA Sevens drew about 75,000 people, creating a local economic impact of $27 million. This year they're expecting attendance close to 80,000. "We've more than doubled attendance since we moved it to Las Vegas. The growth has been exponential."However, the tournament is only one element of a larger celebration of rugby that takes place across Las Vegas. "We've really created a rugby week in Vegas leading up to the tournament," McDowell said. There's an Olympics-style parade of nations at the Fremont Street Experience, player autograph sessions and meet-and-greets and an amateur competition that brings 250 teams and 5,000 players to 30 fields across the valley. During the tournament, a cultural festival at the stadium serves food from the participating nations, like Kenyan samosas and New Zealand meat pies. Ninety percent of the audience for the event travels from outside of Vegas and 25% are international. "We have 15 countries, so we attract a pretty diverse group of fans coming out to support their national team," McDowell said. "A lot of the fans are USA Rugby fans supporting the U.S. national team, but also we have a lot of Fijian fans, Samoan fans, Kenyan fans, South African fans, all primarily expats coming out to support."USA Sevens, the American stop on the HSBC Sevens World Series rugby tour, brought 75,000 attendees to Las Vegas in 2015. Photo Credit: Courtesy of USA Sevens For many immigrants, the Las Vegas event is the only chance to see their national team play on U.S. soil. This year's tour includes squads from Argentina, England, Australia and New Zealand, including many players who will perform on the Olympic stage in August. As of press time, after three rounds of competition, the New Zealand All Blacks — perennial favorites who have dominated the series, winning 12 times over the event's 16 years — are in third, with South Africa in the lead, followed by Fiji in second. The U.S. is currently in sixth.McDowell said the USA Eagles are "by far competing at the highest level we've ever competed at. We're right up there with the leaders in the world right now."That success couldn't be coming at a better time. Team USA has already qualified for the Rio games, where they'll have to defend their gold medal — 92 years after winning it. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit usasevens.com.