A couple of weekends ago (28, 29, 30 March) was the Hong Kong 7s rugby tournament. This is the showpiece of the world 7s series and tickets are, to say the least, eagerly anticipated. Fortunately, being a member of Valley RFC who are affiliated to the HK RFU means we get priority tickets, so there was no need to panic about making sure I had tickets for all three days. Attending an internationally renowned event such as this obviously requires a lot of planning beforehand – especially as a large group of us from the hockey section of Valley had decided to go dressed as Oompa Loompa’s (with one tall guy going as Willy Wonka). Being my first Sevens I figured I’d follow the crowd so quite happily signed up to the whole idea.
First off was being measured up for my Oompa Loompa outfit. The girl who had suggested it (and therefore had to organise it) had managed to contact a tailor in Shenzhen who would put together a tailored Oompa Loompa outfit for ~HK$400 (~£25). I thought to myself at the time, it’s not often you get a tailored fancy dress outfit! The tailor was also able to do tailored shirts for ~HK$150 (~£10) which seemed like a bargain. So I ordered four of those. Unfortunately, it seems the money was saved in button sewing or my Sunday afternoon helper is a bit too aggressive with the iron, as the buttons do not seem to survive long…
Anyway, the week in the run up to the Sevens saw the outfits delivered. Brown long sleeved t-shirt, and not very flattering white 3/4 length trousers/dungarees. The Oompa Loompa look we were looking for was from the 70s film with Gene Wilder rather than the more recent Johnny Depp film. Socks were dispensed with in favour of flip-flops/sandals on the day, and green hair would be provided via bad wigs. Green hair spray was considered, but I’ve seen the effects of hair colour not washing out by Monday morning.
Saturday tends to be the fancy dress day, so Friday afternoon involves getting to Hong Kong stadium as soon as you can work permitting and getting to the South Stand. The South Stand is 18 and over, and is the only stand you’re allowed alcohol in the seating area. As a result it would be classified as the ‘rowdy area’. The atmosphere is fantastic – it’s a mainly expat/tourist crowd, with plenty of sing-along music playing between games, and the nature of Sevens rugby being the games are played at a frenetic pace and over very quickly also. Very disappointing to see that Ireland were not represented though. After the rugby is over the idea is that most people head to the Sevens Village were yet more alcohol is available.
Waking up on the Saturday at about 8:30am with a hangover the mission is to get to the stadium before the South Stand is full. In previous years this is normally about 10:30-10:45am, so I’m aiming for 9:30am. My plan is not to be first – as sitting on my own dressed as an Oompa Loompa holds no appeal whatsoever. In fact, getting the taxi and having to walk up to the stadium is uncomfortable enough. I think I was about 4th Oompa Loompa to arrive – with no Willy Wonka in sight. As a result we look like 4 prats in brown t-shirts, bad green wigs, and strange white trousers… As it approaches 10:00am though more Oompa Loompas arrive (eventually about 20) as well as Willy Wonka (to provide the context for the rest of us). The South Stand is announced as full by 10:15 – before any rugby is played. To be honest, I don’t remember all that much of the rugby from Friday and Saturday – it was group qualifying stages and the main rugby is played on the Sunday. Leaving the Sevens Village it’s nice to see that taxi drivers the world over are really the same. I’m charged HK$100 for my short taxi ride home (normal price should be ~HK$25).
Sunday sees the Oompa Loompa outfit in the bin, and back to the stadium for about 2:30pm and heading to the West stand. I’d like to see some rugby, and with work the next day really can’t face another day in the South stand. England got eliminated by Tonga who they’d beaten the day before, New Zealand strolled their way to the final to face South Africa who had beaten Tonga in the semis. New Zealand haven’t been beaten in the entire world series, and a win here would wrap up the title for them. Unusually, they didn’t choke and thoroughly outplayed South Africa to win the title and series.
A thoroughly enjoyable weekend, although recovery time definitely recommended. Looking forward to next year’s Sevens already. Before then, in Novemeber, Hong Kong hosts a Bledisloe Cup match between the All Blacks and the Wallabies.