This year USA Sevens organizers, along with the Clark County School District, have created a new 'Adopt-a-Country' program for the tournament in Las Vegas, resulting in increased public awareness and interest.
The fourth leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series will be played at the Sam Boyd Stadium on 12-13 February and in the run-up to the event, each of the 16 international participating teams has been paired with a local Las Vegas school. Each school will support its adopted country and has also been taking the opportunity to learn about its people and culture.
Students have participated in art, geography, history and physical education activities, including a competition to design a poster and t-shirt in support of their assigned country.
Each school submitted one winning poster and T-shirt design, from which an overall winner, Michael Dittrich from Bozarth Elementary School, has been chosen by a panel of judges including former professional rugby players, the mayor of Las Vegas and the school district’s superintendent.
Ten-year-old Dittrich's T-Shirt design is for Bozarth's team, Australia, and organizers have invited him to present his winning effort to Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman at the Opening Ceremony at Fremont Street on Thursday February 10.
"This new program is inspiring an appreciation for international culture and sport by allowing students to experience the traditions, languages and customs of each nation first-hand," said USA Sevens Tournament Director, Dan Lyle.
With the Olympic sport of Rugby Sevens set to be broadcast live on network television on NBC during both days of the competition in Las Vegas, the schools are also hosting Rugby clinics to educate staff, parents and pupils about the game before kick-off.