Jill, Chris and I started the wander up the hill to the stadium for a 1pm start to day one of the rugby 7’s. We were there early and got prime position in the southern stand (the party stand) and marvelled as the day unfolded. It took quite a while to fill as the day had loads of qualifying games which included the teams competing to be permanent members of the competition… teams like: Spain, Portugal, Kenya, Russia, Japan, Trinidad and Tobago, Cook Islands, Zimbabwe, Chile, Barbados, Tunisia, American Samoa, Uruguay and of course Hong Kong.
Also on day one was the women’s final (which was unfortunate that this was the only women’s game that we got to see cos they were great). More women’s games at these sorts of events really is needed as the quality was high and the crowd really supportive. In the evening each of the core teams had one game. Other than this the day was about the stadium, the costumes, the singing, the drinks and the characters.
DAY TWO of the rugby and we were joined by Jeff and Bec Ballinger another rugby and school mate that I was lucky enough to stand up for when they married…way back when. We split up and the girls went sightseeing while the boys went to the footy. The Saturday at the 7’s is manic…fully sold out, everyone in costume and the southern (party) stand full before 9am and locked down by about 1pm. We arrived at about 11 and it was already a 5 hr wait to get into that stand…we boycotted and hung out in the main stands watching the games (and the antics) instead.
At 11am the sky started getting dark, by 11:30 the entire sky was pitch black and the heavens opened in a monsoon that can only happen in the tropics. Quite a sight to see and experience. Two hours later the sun was shining and it was as if it had never happened.
Watching the sevens from the eastern and western stands is quite a different experience as it is impossible to watch the rugby and enjoy an ale simultaneously. As such a proportion of the day was spent behind the stand watching a small television screen. Added to this these stands are full of school children wearing wildly non-age appropriate costumes and drinking heavily as the bar staff do not ask for ID’s. This had the obvious and foreseeable effects as the day wore on.
The Sunday saw the finals day of the rugby and Jeff, Chris and I again attended along with Bec (who we managed to get an extra ticket for from a scalper without selling children or limbs)… we got there early and landed in the southern stand, set up camp and did not move until the day was over. Bec lasted a few hours before bailing to catch up with Jill, the rest of us did the hard yards that was 3 days drinking in the stands.
The Cup Title was claimed by New Zealand
The Plate went to South Africa
The Bowl to Scotland and
Kenya Took the Shield
Japan won the Qualifying games and earned themselves a spot with the core teams. I am not exactly sure if this means that one of the lower sides has to drop back to be a qualifier next year but if so Spain, Portugal and Sri Lanka may be hunting for their spot back next year.
This is an event that I had wanted to attend since I was in my late teens and I am so glad that I was able to do it and share the experience with old friends. I must admit if I had come here in my 20’s I am unlikely to have seen too much rugby as there is way too much else going on. Unlike the others when the games finished each day we headed for a meal and a sleep while we often found the younger ones the next day on the steps of the streets having their sleep and wearing their meals. This is a great event that I would seriously consider revisiting every 2-3 years. The expense and the liver may preclude every year.