The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is much more than Asia’s biggest sporting event, the annual arrival of the tournament to town signals city wide celebrations, in the nearest thing Hong Kong has to mardi gras. Inside the stadium, fans dress up, drink and, if there’s time, watch one of the rugby world’s best tournaments. Outside, pubs, bars and restaurants offer special Hong Kong Rugby Sevens deals to lure in the thousands of fans who couldn’t squeeze inside the stadium.
What: Hong Kong Rugby Sevens Tournament
When: 22nd -24th March, 2013
Where: Hong Kong Stadium, Causeway Bay
What is Sevens?
Sevens is a cut-down, speeded up version of traditional rugby. Far quicker, higher scoring and with less rules, Sevens has a far wider appeal than the original fifteens version. The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is the main event in the larger Sevens tournament which tours the world, with the ultimate champions decided on points earned from all of the tournaments.
The Sevens game is often used as training ground for players to prove themselves, before moving onto fifteens. Two of the finest players to grace the Hong Kong tournament have been Jonah Lomu and David Campese, who fine-tuned their game in several years of Sevens’, before going on to dominate world rugby.
Do I need to be a rugby fan?
While the rugby is undoubtedly first-class, much of the crowd turns up for the booze and the atmosphere and not the rugby. The fun of the fast and furious Sevens game is that is lasts under fifteen minutes anyway, and most of the time in the stadium is dedicated to getting into the carnival atmosphere. Even if you’re not a rugby fan, attendance is still highly recommended.
Where can I experience the best of the Sevens?
The legendary South Stand is home to the most boisterous supporters and the singing, shouting and Mexican waves are generally kicked off by the South Stand crowd. South Stand supporters also doll themselves up, donning costumes from ghostbusters to cheerleaders, as they cheer the teams along. If you’re team isn’t making an appearance, you’ll be encouraged to pick an adopted country and shout them through to the final. Be warned; the South Stand is also the headquarters for the tournaments most dedicated drinkers, and while convivial, the atmosphere can be a little too raucous for some.
Immediately outside the stadium is the rugby village, where, for a small fee, you can enjoy a big screen within the cheers of the actual stadium. Wan Chai’s pubs and bars will be packed during the tournament and will feature rugby sevens games of TV, as well as prizes, games and cut-price deals.
What do I need to know?
With a huge expat community turning out for the tournament, England is considered the home town favorite, along with Hong Kong, with China attracting a mixed reception of boos and cheers. Possibly due to the amount of Brits in attendance, both Australia and New Zealand tend to find themselves on the receiving end of a booing. Smaller nations such as Fiji and Samoa are popular with the crowd, while underdogs Canada and USA are also well received. One thing you can bank on, the loudest boo is always reserved for the French.