The USA women's 7s program will not send a team to the Las Vegas Invitational Jan 23-26.
This decision ends a run that started in 2004, when the USA 7s was in Carson, Calif. Every year, there has been a women's 7s game at the stadium during the USA 7s - sometimes an exhibition, but usually the championship game of the Women's Elite 7s at the LVI.
Last year, for the first time ever, no USA women's team played in the stadium, as the Maple Leafs I and Maples Leafs II made the final. Neither the USA or Canada are really allowed to send a full national team to the LVI, and so send teams called the Maple Leafs, the Stars and the Stripes, or USA White and USA Blue, to compete.
This year, though, there will be no USA White or USA Blue. USA Head Coach Ric Suggitt said the decision was down to money and timing.
"We didn't have the budget for it," said Suggitt. "We want to go. But it's not so simple as just getting on a bus out to Vegas. It does cost money, and we don't have a host union paying for us. There's only so much money to go around."
Suggitt also said that with the Houston 7s in mid-February, the timing was bad.
"It doesn't work for our periodization," he said. "To play and then train and play again three weeks later doesn't really work for us."
In fact, Canada made the same decision, except they are sending a young Maple Leafs development team to take on the likes of Japan and Mexico. Suggitt said he'd love to do that, but wasn't able to this time.
"What we do have is some development teams going there outside of the USA team, and that's going to be good for the program," said Suggitt. Atlantis and the Stars are giving up-and-comers exposure against teams from Canada, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, Japan, and France.
But it does seem a shame for USA fans that they won't see their women's national team, or close to it, play in Las Vegas, and it's a shame those players won't get a chance to play in front of a big crowd in the stadium. The USA 7s and the LVI have always given high-profile playing opportunities to the USA women's teams. When it doesn't happen this time, it's because USA Rugby opted not to go.