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The Hong Kong Sevens Gets Bigger And Bolder Every Year

April 14, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The Hong Kong stadium is packed, the PA is cranked to capacity and the beverages are flowing like a Tsunami. Dress code is anything with many of the crowd sporting country colours.

The Beatles, a live Elvis and many of the 60’s-70’s classics blast out of the speakers during “try time” and the atmosphere is electric with dancing, regular Mexican waves. Welcome to the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Rugby Sevens.

The ground announcer imitates a Yankee fight commentator introducing the participants, loud and long.

The seven a side rugby is fast furious and fantastic but that is not the only drawcard. Watching the crowd antics; those dressed up as Kim Jong-un, Trump or Putin plus the breathtaking opening ceremony with the long flying dragons was spectacular.  In our area there are no booked seats but Eugene from one of the event management companies has been holding our seats every year for the past six years by putting hats, bags and other paraphernalia on our nine seats. He shoos prospective raiders away, sometimes not without a heated discussion.

Opening ceremony

The Southern stand is the most popular with the younger crowd; it is the naughty stand where you would expect a streaker and sometimes a blue. The Mexican wave always starts there. Devotees line up for hours to get into this stand and join the fun crowd.

Waitresses and a fewer number of waiters ply their trade up and down the aisles selling jugs of Carlsberg, Pimms, Bloody Mary’s and even soft drinks. They hold up signs while spruiking their products; there is not a dry mouth in the stadium. The waiting staff are paid on commission so the competition off the field, like the rugby, is fierce.

The England team supporters burst into Swing Low Sweet Chariot whenever their team runs onto the field or scores a try, resulting in boos and friendly heckling from the rest of the crowd.

Beer waitress

You run into all sorts of people at the sevens.  I came face to face with a former work colleague from Australia who I haven’t seen or spoken to for 30 years. He spent a stint as a judge in Hong Kong and is a regular sevens attendee now living in Thailand.

The catch phrase “Where the World comes to play” sported by the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens is certainly appropriate as spectators from around the world for this year’s championship will agree. The frenetic party atmosphere is not only evident at the Hong Kong Stadium but all over the Kowloon, Hong Kong Island and surrounding islands for the three day competition. The event is all consuming for all ages, stages and genders. The charged atmosphere of loud popular music, a variety of alcoholic beverages and fare is enjoyable even if one is not a rugby tragic.

The Aussie team

Firmly established as the world’s premier event of its kind and one of the most popular annual sporting events in Asia, the Hong Kong Sevens attracts some of the world’s greatest rugby players to Hong Kong each year. With full on wall to wall rugby action combined with a party atmosphere and world rugby’s largest prize purse this year’s competition will leave an indelible magical memory for all. Starting with 12 teams before a crowd of 3,000 at the Hong Kong Football Club in 1976 to today’s three-day extravaganza featuring 40 teams and a total crowd of 120,000 spectators, the 2018 Sevens is definitely Where the World Comes to Play and Party.

For the record Fiji took out the top title beating Kenya in the final 24 to 12, their fourth victory in a row, Australia was disappointing coming last in their pool although to be fair, the A squad was on the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games.

Written by John Savage

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