The guide to the Rugby Sevens
NAME: Mr Drunk-by-Noon.
OR: The man who thinks he knows everything there is to know about rugby, but lets himself down by getting drunk and missing all the on-field action.
AGE: Old enough to have financial nightmares over school fees and the cost of roller-blades, but not too old to cast a covetous glance at the beer maidens. He finds release in rugby: the camaraderie, the open air, the beer.
ROUTINE: Spends the year talking about the Sevens, bores the pants off the wife and kids all week before the tournament, gets them up early so they can take their seats before the rush, settles down with the newspaper's pull-out Sevens section, some binoculars and a seat cushion, complains about bloody kids walking around blocking the view, drinks a lot of beer, spends the afternoon drunk and morose, slagging off anything and everything, and then blacks out until the next morning. At work, he talks knowledgeably about the tournament, having been briefed by his 11-year-old daughter who actually managed to remember the scores.
MOST LIKELY TO SAY: 'England may be the world champions, but it's a whole new ball game out here ... remember that try that score by the bearded Fijian bloke three years ago, or was it four? Get Daddy another beer, Lisa. This referee doesn't have a clue. What's the score again?' NAME: The Mad Hatters.
OR: Those crrrrrazy guys in hats that have clapping hands, flapping ears, beer cans or even nuclear reactors on top.
NATIONALITY: Foreign. Those hats come all the way from Australia, the Gulf and South Africa hoping to make an appearance in the newspapers. It is an unwritten rule that local fans go along to laugh at the visiting hats, and don't wear any themselves.
CLASSICS OF THE GENRE: The John Deere baseball cap wearer who has never been astride a tractor in his life. The Papua New Guinea fans sporting their sky-blue crocodile headwear.
CLOSELY RELATED TO: The expats from Dubai and Bahrain who come in Arab keffiyehs; Swedish tennis fans who paint their country's flag on their faces during Davis Cup tennis matches and fans of Nagoya Grampus Eight of the J-League who attend matches in Ronald McDonald-style wigs in the team colours.
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Homeboys from the mean streets of urban USA who can make a statement about their gang affiliation with the merest tilt of their baseball cap. Ruddy-faced English 'rugger' fans in their cloth flat caps, or horse-racing fans at Royal Ascot who sport top hats and outrageous David Schilling-style headgear.
NAME: The Professional Proposer.
BRIEF HISTORY: From the start of the Sevens the romantic rugby fan realised this was the ultimate way of proposing. His courage buoyed by copious amounts of booze and morally supported by like-minded louts, he was able to ask his long-suffering rugby widow girlfriend to marry him and garner a lot of self publicity at the same time.
The techniques used mirror the tournament's development. First it was a proposal on bended knee in front of a bunch of his mates in the Hong Kong Football Club bar. Then painted banners began to sprout in the crowds, followed by an announcement over the tannoy at the Government Stadium. With the advent of the space-age Hong Kong Stadium, proposals are now entered on the diamond vision screen and broadcast around the world by satellite television.
CLOSELY RELATED TO: New Zealand player Scott Pierce's pitch-side proposal to his fiance after the Kiwis had been beaten by the Fijians in the final.
FANS SAY: 'What a romantic gesture - fancy committing yourself to your partner in front of all those witnesses!' CRITICS SAY: 'Can you imagine the embarrassment?! Don't these people have any class at all? Can you honestly claim there is anything romantic about the Sevens?!' WOULDN'T YOU LOVE TO SEE: A diamond vision message that reads, 'I'd rather have all my teeth pulled than marry you, Nigel.' NAME: The Streaker.
CHEMICAL MAKE-UP: A seething cocktail of alcohol, sheer guts and bloody lunacy.
BRIEF HISTORY: Back in the early 1970s when an unforgettable Ray Stevens track topped the charts, young American men and women ran around their college campuses in the buff in bleak mid-winter. Soon nude figures were running across the grass of Lords, Twickenham and the Sydney Cricket Ground. Now rarely seen at sports events, with the exception of the Sevens.
STRANGE FACT: (1) Hong Kong press photographers always seem to know before the police, the stewards and the rest of the crowd exactly where and when the streaker will emerge as they did when two pneumatic South African women sprinted across the turf in the early 1990s.
(2) With the exception of Twickenham streaker Erica Roe, the more audacious the streaker, the worse shape their body will be in. Sevens streakers, usually tall and skinny, or short and fat, now routinely grab the ball from the kick-off, run half the length of the pitch, 'score' a try and even convert it to the wild acclaim of spectators.
CRITICS (USUALLY MR DRUNK-BY-NOON) SAY: 'Damned disgraceful display. It gets in the way of the rugby, offends the children and God knows what the Chinese make of it all. If I want to see acres of naked flesh, I'll take up my usual seat at the Big Boy Club in Patpong.' FANS SAY: (1) 'It's only a bit of fun - can't those stewards just leave him/her alone?' (2) 'Phwwwwoooaaaar! He's hung like a bull canary!' NAME: Psycho Steward.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION: Flint-eyed, unsmiling, crop-haired and with a hint of a regimental tattoo peeking out from under the sleeve of his close-fitting red T-shirt.
NEVER SEEN WITHOUT: Lace-up boots, walkie-talkie and a bad attitude.
CLOSELY RELATED TO: Joe Bananas doormen, rottweilers, Saddam Hussein's bodyguards, the French riot police unit the CRS.
BEST KNOWN FOR: Missing tackles as they try and bring down streakers who gracefully sidestep around them and then for making up for their humiliation with a couple of surreptitious punches to the streaker's body once they are finally dragged into the stands.
FANS (USUALLY MR DRUNK-BY-NOON) SAY: 'If everyone behaved themselves we would not need to have stewards.' CRITICS SAY: 'Don't push me! I've got rights too, you know!' HE SAYS: (while viewing the multitude at three on Sunday afternoon hoping for a streaker or a pitch invasion) 'Go on, punks - make my day!' ICONOGRAPHER