The essentials: Wind, rugby, old friends

Trash bag
This fan is properly dressed for Sunday’s weather at the Las Vegas stadium.

Just spent three days in Las Vegas, America’s most non-essential city. Great place for fun, but when the day comes (it was yesterday) for the country to conserve its water, Vegas is the first place that should lose its Colorado River ration card. But enough about green golf courses, fountains and swimming pools in the desert, let’s get to the important stuff.

Fiji was down 15-0 to Australia in the finals of the sevens rugby tournament at Sam Boyd Stadium, and it looked like the island nation that put excitement in the abbreviated game was going to get blown with the desert wind that was tossing food wrappers, trash bags and dust around the stadium. Australia made their way to the finals courtesy of two penalty tries in their semi-final game against South Africa. But their luck ran out in the second half of the final game. Actually, what happened was that Fiji ran away with the game, scoring twice on 100-yard runs. The game ended with Fiji up, 21-15.

Fiji made it into the finals by defeating the U.S. team in the semis. The fourth place finish leaves the U.S. in fifth place in the international series, which continues in Vancouver, B.C., this next weekend.

The gang
Some of the Ohio State alum before the wind blew.
And then the cold came.

The sevens game is the version of rugby that will be in this summer’s Olympic games in Brazil. Rugby was last played in the games in 1924 (the full game of 15 players a side) and the defending champs are . . . (drum roll, please) . . . the United States. According to the Las Vegas Review Journal story, Fiji could win its first Olympic gold medal by coming in first in sevens in Rio. Fiji loves the game, and on Sunday night the lobby of the Monte Carlo hotel was filled with Fijians having their pictures taken with the Las Vegas trophy.

Fiji trophy
Pictures with the trophy.

Staying through the final game Sunday afternoon required a commitment from a hardy bunch of fans. The sun can shine at Sam Boyd Stadium, but the place can also create a tornado effect when the wind kicks up. On Sunday afternoon, the wind was doing a Rockettes’ routine and anyone not dressed like a Bedouin herder was in trouble.

Howling winds, streaking Fijians, flag-waving fans and lots of former Buckeye teammates around me. The senses bombarded. The heartstrings plucked. These are the essentials of life.


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