Probably the biggest event in Hong Kong every year is the 3 day weekend extravaganza known as the Rugby Sevens. The “Sevens” competition is a scaled down rugby game where each team has only seven men and a game consists of 2 seven minute halves. 24 teams from countries around the world participate and with each game being only 14 minutes long…its fast and furious.
My first Sevens was back in 1994 when I won 2 sets of tickets for the weekend. A now defunct English Language newspaper (The Eastern Express) was offering a set of tickets for the person who could best write why they deserved them. With the upcoming Handover of Hong Kong back to China from Britain on everyone’s mind I wrote a political tale involving defense of an innocent lady, Rugby Sevens tickets, and then China’s Head of Hong Kong Affairs, Lu Ping. I was working for a Christian missionary organization back then and the manager sent me out on a errand for a computer thing-a-ma-jig. As I left I said rather cocky for all in the office to hear, “Oh, and the Eastern Express will be phoning to let me know I won my Rugby Sevens tickets” (We didn’t have cell phones back then). From the computer store I called back to ask a question about my errand and the manager said, “Oh yeah, BTW, the Eastern Express did call after you left, and you did win Rugby Sevens tickets”
When I returned last year to live again in Hong Kong, I knew I wanted to take Gabriel to the Sevens but when it came around, he didn’t seem that interested. Because tickets are not cheap, I didn’t want to spend the money unless he really wanted to go. We ended up running into a friend on his way to the Sunday finals (he was skipping church…church attendance does take a dip during the Sevens weekend) and I was able to talk Gabriel into tagging along with him. Watching 8 hours of incredible nail biting Rugby that day surrounded by good friends, good conversation, beef pies and lots of cold…Coke Cola turned Gabriel into a rugby fan.
Now I don’t think I could NOT take Gabriel to the Rugby Sevens every year! Last night he was proudly wearing his South African Springboks jersey given to him by a good friend. Although I think he spends far to much time trying to figure out how he’s going to sneak into the South Stands. The South Stands is at one end of the field where alcohol can be consumed in the seats and you have to be over 18 to sit. Its the most rowdy place where people are dressed up in costumes and enjoying their beer WAY to much!
The Sevens have become so popular that it is now becoming an Olympic sport. Thats one of the reasons I like it so much. Over a weekend you get to see nations from around the world play in what could almost be called a mini-World Cup. Bill McLaren, in his autobiography Talking of Rugby writes at length about his Hong Kong Sevens experiences:
- “I remember a big South Sea islander saying that, in his view, the Hong Kong sevens were really the Olympic games of Rugby Union. Certainly, the Hong Kong event encapsulates all the really good things that the game has to offer–splendid organisation, wonderful sporting spirit, universal camaraderie, admirable field behaviour, the most enjoyable crowd participation, the chance for emergent rugby nations to lock horns with the mighty men of New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Wales, Scotland and the Barbarians. There is, too, scintillating running and handling which is what the game is supposed to be all about.“
Anyhow, its great to be living back in Hong Kong and able to enjoy such an International event every year!