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Exciting weekend at SVNS LAX sets the stage for ‘unique’ LA 2028 Olympics

By Finn Morton
World Rugby Olympic Technical Delegate Doug Langley World Rugby Chief of Women's Rugby Sally Horrox LA 2028 Sports Director Niccolo Campriani World Rugby Chief of Events Mick Right

Rugby sevens has taken another step towards an even greater tomorrow after thousands of fans made their way to Los Angeles’ Dignity Health Sports Park in droves for SVNS LAX last weekend.

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The success of the SVNS Series stop in the City of Angeles is another important marker for the sport as the countdown to the upcoming Paris Olympics in July continues to tick by.

But while there’s plenty of interest and intrigue surrounding those Games at Stade de France, it’s crucial to acknowledge the significance of SVNS LAX for the sport’s future beyond 2024.

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The most recent SVNS Series leg was held at the proposed venue for rugby sevens at the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028, with an official announcement set to be made later this year.

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It was impossible to wipe the smile off Niccolo Campriani’s face on day three at SVNS LAX. The LA 2028 Sports Director gave a glowing endorsement for the event while talking about the excitement of working with World Rugby over the next four years.

“Rugby sevens was the very first event I ever witnessed as Sporting Director of LA ‘28 when I joined LA,” Campriani told RugbyPass.  “It was the post-pandemic rugby sevens game in the summer I had joined LA ’28 in July ’22. So, all of a sudden, for me to be in the stadium is the third time.

“What is unique about this sport for LA ‘28 is that you’re the only sport that has this annual event in what’s the (proposed) venue for the Games… this is the proposed venue, it was proposed at the time of the bid, and later this year we’re gonna have the final confirmation.

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“This positions rugby in a very unique situation where, the way I see it, we have four test events, and this is one of them… the combination between having the annual event here as well as working specifically with rugby sevens and this international federation.

“I’m very open about recognising when a federation is doing a good job and I’m always impressed by the level of professionalism and passion… (World Rugby) really cares about putting together the best possible experience for the athletes.

“What is great about the Olympic Games is you have athletes and spectators coming from different nationalities and different backgrounds mixing together, but also people from different sports communities – they bring something so unique,” he added.

“When it comes to spectators we want to see the uniqueness. There is a great opportunity here to build on this event to make sure that everybody who will come to the rugby sevens tournament at the Olympics is fully aware of what is the encouraged dress code.

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“I think we should think about making this unique, absolutely.”

SVNS Series superstars will have the opportunity to mingle with the best athletes from around the world at the Athletes Village in 2028, but the LA Games plan to take that one step further.

Campriani revealed the LA Games plans on having “sports parks” as opposed to single-sport venues which would risk isolating athletes and spectators from experiencing other events.

As part of the bid, rugby sevens will share the area around the Dignity Health Sports Park venue with a number of other sports, to be confirmed later this year.

“What’s going to be interesting about the LA Games is that you’re not going to have only the whole world coming together at the (Athletes) Village, which for us is going to be UCLA, but it’s going to be an interesting interaction between athletes or different sports communities at the venue,” Campriani said.

“We have this concept of different sports parks, so not having isolated venues. This is a key one when it comes to the experience of spectators, but I think it’s gonna be very unique also for the rugby players.

“I’m really glad for the athletes that they are familiar with the (proposed) venue, it is important, even when the field of play might not be as relevant as it could be for sailing or rowing. But still being familiar with the stadium, with the facility, with the field of play, with the surroundings, I think mentally is a huge plus as an athlete. Call it a placebo but for me, it was really important.

“This is going to be great that the athletes are fully familiar with it. You add the amazing festival atmosphere that will be here at Dignity Health, plus the unique experience of the Village, I think it’s going to be great for the rugby players.”

But before LA, the sporting world will assemble in Paris later this year and it’ll be rugby sevens, along with football, that gets the Games underway before the opening ceremony.

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Sevens is set to be held at Stade de France from July 24 to 30, while the ceremony will go ahead within the city of Paris on the 26th.

Following the debut of sevens at the 2016 Rio Games and inclusion at the pandemic-affected Tokyo Olympics three years ago, Campriani is “rooting” for Paris to “make a big splash” with rugby’s shorter format.

“First of all, really rooting for Paris ’24 to ensure a big success to bring people more and more excited,” he told reporters.

“Again, what is great about here is we have this experience with LA (on the SVNS Series).

“It’s not just the opportunities but having such a great international federation like World Rugby. These are the kind of people that also learn from their opportunities.

“This is my third rugby sevens tournament here. You can see how they (World Rugby) learn one year from the other.

“There is fine tuning, but we have plenty of opportunities to fine tune that even further before ’28.”

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