A large radius around Causeway Bay was booming today with the cheers, colors and costumes of partygoers, or rugby fans. From the decorations hanging around Lee Gardens and the triangular Blue Girl flags dropping from the light posts, to the occasional Pope hats sticking out from the crowd, there was no mistaking that HKSEVENS had only just begun to light up the weekend.
HKSEVENS flags hanging around Lee Gardens (photo taken by Lexie Ma Xiaochi)
The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is an annual rugby tournament where international teams gather to lock horns at the Hong Kong Stadium. The three-day event however is much more than just rugby matches and enthusiastic fans, unless “enthusiastic” means absurdly-creatively-dressed, face-painted, beer-showered, red-cheeked dancing crowds that chant their way through the weekend. Friday was the first day of the HKSEVENS madness, and the bar for Saturday and Sunday has already been set high.
the Hong Kong Stadium (photo taken by Lexie Ma Xiaochi)
The matches kicked off at noon, however, downtown Causeway Bay had been buzzing since hours before. Among the various happenings in the neighborhood, the world-famous comedian from New Zealand, Vinyl Burns had taken up a stage near Lee Gardens and was entertaining the passing crowds with his wit, electrical guitar skills and balancing stunts on a unicycle.
Vinyl Burns playing the electric guitar while riding a unicycle (photo taken by Sara Furxhi)
In the meantime, the road leading up to the stadium was lined with English ticket sellers. Even if you looked like the most determined HKSEVENS participant, with your Hawaiian shirt unbuttoned, wearing an American flag bandana while waving your ticket in the air, you would be sure to be greeted with at least ten offers for cheap tickets before you reached the stadium.
Interestingly, all these ticket sellers were registered and regulated vendors, except that due to the abundance of tickets that remained to be sold at the last minute, you could comfortably snatch one at a fifth of the original price.
an HKSEVENS participant wearing an American flag bandana (photo taken by Sara Furxhi)
Inside, the stadium got filled up slowly in the afternoon, since Friday was a workday after all. Yet, that did not seem to wither the will of most HKSEVENS participants to get creative with their outfits, which ranged from musketeers, crocodile-riders, spaghetti heads and of course, the Fiji dream team.
If you saw swarms of people passing by with rainbow-colored Afro wigs on their heads and national flag-inspired capes over their backs, you would know with a hundred percent certainty that you were in the right place for the one-of-a-kind top-notch carnival with the name HKSEVENS.
a group of HKSEVENS participants dressing up in matching costumes (photo taken by Sara Furxhi)
As always, HKSEVENS on Friday didn’t failed to deliver. Things started to get wild after working hours with the stadium being practically packed at 18:00 or so. Lucy Hunt from London commented that even the Rugby Sevens in the UK could not compare with that in Hong Kong in terms of the scale.
As the games progressed, South Korea suffered from a bitter 0-52 defeat in its face-off with England, and South Africa concluded the night with a hard-fought 17-10 victory over France. The hosting Hong Kong team fared fairly well by scoring two wins over its Namibia and Sri Lanka counterparts. To stay updated on the game schedule and match outcomes, you can visit the HKSEVENS official website for relevant information.
England’s sweeping 52-0 victory over South Korea (photo taken by Lexie Ma Xiaochi)
As needless as it is to describe how fanatically competitive (within a civilized boundary) these rugby fans in the thousands were in support of their home teams without ever holding back their loud cheers or moderating their achohol-consuming paces, and how impressively creative (without going overboard with decency standards) these party lovers in their 20s and 40s alike were by dressing up in matching costumes in a mildly Halloween-ish fashion, other magical moments did present themselves as well.
For one, when a Donald Trump impersonator took over the microphone and broadcasted his rather sweet rendition of the Tom Jones classic Delilah, the whole stadium was ignited simultaneously with amused laughter and retro singalong.
crowds singing along to the Donald Trump impersonator’s rendition of Delilah (photo taken by Lexie Ma Xiaochi)
In short, one takeaway from the HKSEVENS on Friday is that, you do not have to be a rugby fanatic to enjoy Hong Kong’s yearly celebration of this traditional English sport. As long as you have got the rushing impulse to party, the constant overflow of creativity with costumes and the gracious willingness to overlook the over-priced-ness of stadium beers, then you are definitely vibing with the HKSEVENS fervor.
As Andrew Baker, an Australian national living in Singapore who had been flying in specially for the event for years now exclaimed, this is where the world comes to party. So get your hands on a couple of tickets now and experience the exceeding exuberance at the Hong Kong Stadium over the weekend with friends and family who share your craving for a world-class party for yourself!
HKSEVENS 2017: Day 1 Highlights (video produced by Amrita Mangho)
Writers: Sara Furxhi and Lexie Ma Xiaochi