Welcome to the weird, wonderful and perfectly Americanised world of SVNS in the USA, where for one weekend, the stardust from neighbouring Hollywood is subcontracted to the Dignity Health Sports Park with a liberal sprinkling.

It started in pioneering fashion back in 2004 when rugby was on the rise but certainly hadn’t arrived in the USA. Maybe it still hasn’t fully ‘arrived’ just yet, but there’s no doubt the exploits of the country’s SVNS stars have played a huge hand in its growth in the wider public’s conscience. Blockbuster moments from the likes of Carlin Isles, Danny Barrett and Ilona Maher coupled with the glow of prospective Olympic Gold has fuelled America’s interest.

Its roots are sunk deep in The Golden State sands having started in LA, shifted to San Diego and vibed in Vegas before returning home to LA in 2020. It’s a tournament that has never failed to entertain or disappoint.

In Las Vegas, Sin City became SVNS City for a decade between 2010 and 2019 and like emotions on a roulette wheel it was a rollercoaster! The super-tight nature of the Sam Boyd Stadium made for a riotous atmosphere with an amateur invitational competition on the surrounding fields accompanying the international action a la Dubai.

Some of the most scintillating SVNS action the continent has seen didn’t look out of place in the entertainment capital of the world and as for the antics off the pitch… well they’re legendary… but you know what they say about what happens in Vegas.

Who can forget "The Hoff"?

But back to LA, back to Carson and back to where it all began 20 years ago, at the (now named) Dignity Health Sports Park. Arguably, the most enduring image of the Los Angeles SVNS in the modern era belongs to the man who brought a little bit of California to living rooms around the world in the 90s. I am, of course, talking about David Hasselhoff.

Not content with a previous mind-bending Hong Kong on-field cameo singing Delilah, ‘The Hoff’ religiously clad in a tight-fit Eagles jersey all weekend seemingly covered every blade of grass at the 2020 LA edition. One moment he was on the concourse at the HSBC passing challenge nailing one through the 100-point hole to Brian O’Driscoll’s disbelief, the next he was lifeguard float in hand, giving the people what they wanted… a full-blooded rendition of the Baywatch theme tune!

Hasslehoff’s lifeguarding top guns were nearly called upon last year in the monsoon of 2023. Torrential rain almost had us renaming the competition the HSBC Synchro – or if we’re being properly on brand HSBC SYNCHR – with players doing more aquaplaning than side-stepping. Extraordinary elemental conditions didn’t dampen the mood but only served to inspire some legendary finishing with Ireland’s Jordan Conroy getting a straight 10 from the judges. I guess you can’t count on controlling the weather…

But one thing you can count on is the locals rising to the occasion. There is something about the amplified home chants of ‘USA! USA!’ that truly hits the spot for Uncle Sam’s finest.

The women arrive in LA as the reigning champions having, at long last, claimed their home crown in Glendale back in 2020 – the last time women’s SVNS came stateside. They’d finished runners-up in three of the six preceding tournaments on these shores, so have a history of taking the fans deep with them.

The men, meanwhile, have delivered two of their three SVNS titles right here in the Land of the Brave. Back-to-back Vegas triumphs including their last trophy lift back in 2019 only tell half the story, though. Do yourself a favour and google: ‘Perry Baker try Las Vegas Fiji’ for one of THE most ridiculous tries in the game’s history and a glimpse into just how wild the fans can go.

So what to expect this year as players and fans touchdown with LAX printed on boarding cards?

On the field the omens are strong for runaway SVNS leaders Argentina who lifted their first-ever trophy in the inaugural year of the USA 7s in Carson. Fast forward five years and they repeated the feat, this time in San Diego, pipping England to claim only a second crown in their history.

Plenty of trophies have since passed under the bridge, but SVNS stateside will always hold a cherished place in the heart of Los Pumas Sevens head coach Santiago Gomes Cora, and in the form they’re in you wouldn’t bet against them making it a hat-trick of star-spangled successes this weekend.

As for the happenings off the field, the intangible magic of nearby Tinseltown means the scripts aren’t yet written, but one thing’s for sure, it’s going to be box office.

Take part in all of the on-field and off-field action in LA with the HSBC SVNS Predictor Game. Making team and player predictions throughout each weekend, gain points based on their performance and compete against rugby sevens fans from across the world on the global leaderboard.