The Hong Kong Rugby 7s:
A great Hong Kong tradition is the annual seven-a-side rugby tournament; known near and far as the Rugby 7s. The event, held the last weekend of every March, brings together squads from more than 60 countries. It’s three days of a special, fast-paced, hybrid style of rugby that appeals to even those who know nothing about the sport – like me, for example.
There is much carousing, beer drinking, and singing mixed in with a good measure of general debauchery. I know people who come from England and have been doing so for more than 12 years. I know Yanks from North America who wouldn’t miss the 7s for love nor money. Jumbo jets full of Aussies and Kiwis make the trek and so that they can enjoy a week of sport and pickling their livers.
As the name implies, each side has seven players rather than the usual 15 for the standard rugby union game. The contests are divided into two, seven-minute periods. It’s a double elimination, round robin format so your team is sure to play for at least the first two days. The action is fast paced with lots of breakaway running, punctuated by hard-hitting tackles and wild scrums. And that’s just the men’s room.
As much fun as the sport is itself, as a spectator you are presented with some of the most bizarre scenes you’re ever likely to see in a buttoned-down city like Hong Kong. For example, I saw a 6’ 4”, 250 pounds colossus wearing a dress, a blond wig, eyeliner, lipstick and rouge. But what I noticed most were the black fishnet stockings and the spiked high heels. I don’t have a male friend whose libido wouldn’t normally go into overdrive at the mere suggestion of black fishnet stockings and FMP heels – but this was a guy. A big, ugly, hairy guy. Yeeeach! I’ll never get that image out of my mind.
The annual highlight of the sevens is the appearance of a streaker. You don’t know when it will happen but you can bank on the fact that some drunken lout will have enough beer in his system to make him think that 45,000 people can’t wait to espy his genetalia while he runs across the field being chased by representatives of the local constabulary. You can count on this person to be overweight, unattractive and – most unforgivable of all – male.
Many spectators dress up in elaborate costumes when they attend the 7s. Some groups even come in themes like this section that all dressed as American Indians. American Indians, in Hong Kong, at the Rugby 7s. Makes sense to me. Another group came dressed in striped inmates jumpsuits from the local prison. At least I hope those were costumes…
Author: Rob Chipman @ CEO of Asian Tigers Hong Kong.
This year, the Hong Kong Rugby 7s will be held on April 5 to April 7, 2019.