Hong Kong Rugby – Setting up for the Sevens
March 21th 2013: Kwiksure, one of our top insurance brokers, has compiled a guide with all you need to know about the HK Rugby Sevens. If its your first time at the Hong Kong party of the year, this is essential reading!
Let the fun begin!
What is the Rugby Sevens?
The IRB Rugby Sevens is a competition where national teams compete for the ‘Sevens World Series’ title by gaining points at various tournaments across the globe. The 2012-13 season is scheduled to complete with nine tournaments and forty-six teams representing their countries (in at least one tournament).
What’s so special about the HK sevens?
The IRB Rugby Sevens returns to Hong Kong for the 38th year since its introduction as an international tournament. The event takes place in Hong Kong every year, usually near the end of march, and sprawls across a weekend of manic partying and rapid rugby.
For those of you unfortunate enough never to have experienced Hong Kong’s finest weekend, here is an overview of what to expect, and what to look forward to.
The Atmosphere felt at Hong Kong’s turn to host the Sevens undoubtedly sets it apart from the other tournaments around the world. Although the format, tournament structure, and teams remain fairly consistent throughout the Series, Hong Kong has forever been heralded as the best venue for the rugby competition, and it’s no surprise why.
With an immeasurable sea of costumes, anthems to sing along to, furiously fast rugby games to watch and two hundred thousand pints of beer (according to HK’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department) ready to drink in 2 and a half days, it’s hard not to imagine having a good time. Naturally, no amount of reading or preparing will convey just how special the Hong Kong Sevens is until you physically walk through those gates, and stare up at the 40,000 seats surrounding you.
Participants & Rules
As not all 46 countries compete in every tournament, only 28 will arrive in Hong Kong for the weekend. 2013 will have the most number of teams contesting at the HK Sevens ever, and the new table structure introduced last year is sure to keep the tournament competitive. In the entire history of the HK Sevens, the only countries to have won the tournament Cup are New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, England, South Africa and Australia.
-Each game consists of two seven minute halves (the final lasts 20 minutes)
-Every team needs three forwards and four backs, and only five subs are allowed
-Scrums are contested by the three forwards
-Half-times are a minute long.
-Conversions are always drop-kicked.
-A Yellow card signifies two minutes in the sin bin for a player.
How to Get There
Get to Causeway Bay MTR exit F… and follow the crowd! The walk from CWB MTR to the Hong Kong Stadium takes about 10-20 minutes depending on what time you arrive and how big the crowd has grown. Police are usually scattered throughout the route making sure pedestrians and cars are never fatally introduced, so approach the men in blue (probably adorned with fluorescent yellow vests) for directions or advice.
Hailing a Taxi might be an option if your journey starts a fair distance away, but give up any ideas of arriving at the front door. Ask the driver (‘See gei’) to bring you as close to the stadium without getting caught up in the traffic, and walk the rest of the way with the meandering masses.
Scalpers and websites like Asiaxpat and Geoexpat will always provide options for tickets, but be aware that unless it’s a friend, you should prepare to pay a significant mark-up.
South Stand – This is party central. Dressing up with some friends, or finding other groups with similarly bold and bizarre costumes is guaranteed to get the cameras on you for a tiny flicker of fame. Long queues are always a problem for latecomers hoping to find their way into the South Stand, so make sure you arrive early to the party.
Don’t try lining up if you are under eighteen years old, you’ll have just wasted 3 hours trying to get in. There is a strict no underage entrance policy to the south stand, mainly due to the substantial quantity of alcohol around the place. Due to the somewhat dangerous tradition of throwing plastic beer jugs in big arcs towards the front of the stand, the powers that be decided to ban them, and instead introduced the 1 litre cup.
North Stand – These are the seats directly in front of the entrance gates. People are in costume here as well, but the atmosphere isn’t quite the same as being in the middle of a South Stand sing-a-long.
West & East Stand – If you really want to watch the rugby get up here for the best tactical views. Rows (321, 322, 314 313) are prime for catching the action, and you will be saved a considerable amount of beer being tipped, spilled or thrown at you.
Middle Stands – Are made up mainly of corporate boxes. If you’re lucky enough to have a pass to one of these boxes…let us know what it’s like! Unless you work for the right company or have the right friends, don’t aspire too much into gaining access to one of these rooms, even if the rumours of never-ending finger sandwiches are true.
Lower stands – Most of the seats here seem to fill up quick in the mornings, so get there early if you want a long row or group of seats for any drinking buddies.
Friday – Kicks off the tournament in the afternoon, and of the three nights is the latest to finish. A good portion of ticket holders choose to skip Friday, but going along definitely gets you excited for the next morning.
Saturday – First game kicks off at 9:30am, so make sure you arrive in good time and secure your position. The day is dedicated to the scheduled games, so make sure to mark down the times for your favourite games. All teams are fighting to go on to the qualifying stages, that take place on Sunday.
Sunday – Another early start at 9am, but if you want to go and support Hong Kong’s young and upcoming rugby players make sure to watch the Peninsula Vs. Island game for some old fashioned school-day rivalries. Sunday’s games are all based on the results of Saturday, so stay on your toes to figure out which team will be going up against which team as the day progresses.
The final few games are always thrilling to watch, even if you no longer have the chance to patriotically cheer your country on. Make sure to stick around for the celebrations at the end of the tournament, and enjoy the traditionally explosive finale.
-Organise a dress/costume theme with some buddies prior to the weekend. Be as original as you want, and remember to look out for yourselves up on the Jumbotron (or Electronic Timing and Display System, if you want to get technical) for a cheer and a wave.
-Stick around for the parade, (wrestle with your urge to lob things at the french team)
-Meet as many people as you can; fans travel from all over the world to HK annually solely for this event.
-Learn as many songs and chants as you can.
-Be prepared for some funky smells (mostly stale beer) coming from the floor and seats on Sunday morning.
-Watch some rugby! The partying, drinking, singing, dancing and screaming sure is fun, but don’t forget that the games are the real reason to be there!
-Cheer for the Hong Kong Team
-Expect to get into the South Stand later in the day.
-Throw empty plastic bottles or jugs at anybody’s head.
-Expect cheap food. Either carbo load the night before, or be prepared to cherish every single morsel of your pie(s).
-Expect to leave the stadium quickly, it takes a while for 40,000 people to walk down one road!
Final Tips & Lists
If (or rather when) your bladder has given up on its desperate pleas to release the building pressure, consider visiting the toilets during the bigs matches. Anything involving Australia, New Zealand, England or Hong Kong will certainly clear out the toilets, leaving you to enjoy the sweet relief with relatively more space, and (if you’re a bloke) a little more room for accuracy.
Occasionally, you may witness a poor attendee scrambling around on the ground looking for their bag/hat/textbook. So the rule is, don’t bring anything you can’t afford to replace. This most definitely includes tickets for the other days, and nothing could be worse than leaving your weekend access for the stadium staff to find on friday night.
Over the weekend, without fail, Lan Kwai Fong and Wan Chai will be swarming with Sevens goers looking to continue the party through the evening. Probably something you will be told numerous times while partying is to pace yourself, and remember you’re in it for the long haul. It is easy to find yourself in town late on friday and saturday night, but keep reminding each other that all the glory starts again the next morning, at 9am.
And to top it off, here’s a handy list for your weekend:
-Suncream/Sunglasses (if the sun is out)
-Warm top (if the sun is not out, march can still be pretty cold)
-Safety Pins (for impromptu costume repairs)
-Bags & Clothing with Zips