Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Rugby 7's

The stadium at night

There really is no other way of describing the Hong Kong Sevens without including the word ‘party’. Having already spent 2 months in HK I knew exactly what I was in for in terms of Hong Kong itself but with Asia's biggest sporting event in town it added a whole other dimension to things.

There is probably no other place in Asia which is as westernised or English friendly as HK, remembering it was British up until a few years ago. This means a few things; firstly it’s easy choosing what to eat, secondly the food and especially the supermarkets are a real mixture of western and Chinese, thirdly everything is in dual languages and if not then it’s the Chinese which is missing,finally, every British person who left when HK was handed back to the Chinese comes back for a visit while the sevens are on. I guess it’s a good excuse!

The stadium has to be one of the most amazing stadiums in the world; I challenge anyone to find one that beats it. On one side you have jungle, thick, green and uninviting. I know from experience it takes hours to make any progress ‘walking’ through it. On the other you have the world’s best skyline, 100’s of buildings reaching upwards and as night falls you have the worlds best night skyline with award winning light show. Even though you are there to watch rugby it’s hard not to spend half the time looking around.

The south stand is party central. With a max capacity of 6,000ppl, for safety reasons, it’s the place to be if you are more interested in beer than rugby. Everyone is dressed up and costumes range from where’s Wally, Steve Irwin, Arab princess, Ginger bread men, police men and flight attendants right through to things not even the person wearing it knows what it is.

South stand antics

The rugby itself was incredible and I can see why 7's it has been included in the Olympics. It is easily better than the normal '15' a side version as each game is fast, fun and action packed. Every team has a chance of winning and the crowd is always happy, even when their team doesn't do too well. Hong Kong was a crowd favorite with seemingly every one of the 40,000 people cheering for them. England was next in line as the ‘home team’ with sides like NZ, Australia and South Africa only being supported by true fans like us. Needles to say we weren't well liked. Thankfully though France was the least favorite team, booed every time they touched the ball!

The battle begins

I was almost jumping on my chair after the first few minutes of the final, with a 14-0 lead I didn't think Samoa would come back to beat us...maybe it was the crowd support that got them there in the end.

Highlights: Watching a streaker run the length of the field, climb up onto the goal post and jump up and down on the crossbar before jumping off, evading the security guards and playing with the ball at halfway, pretending to give up and then racing off again before being tackled trying to get off the field.

Having two old poms behind us analyze each move and talkig as though they could do better. "Oh if only he'd passed it he had a man on his outside and he could have got a jeez this really is amazing isn't it....I mean look at them what are they doing....Oh this really is great isn't it.....I got upgraded because I wasn't happy with my hotel....

Eating a mince pie.

Asking the old lady infront of us where she bought her sausage roll and after I told her I hadn't had one in 8 months she gave me half of it.

Overall it was a fantastic time and I highly recommend making a trip to HK.