Three days of civilised debauchery smells like sporting nirvana

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 April, 2006, 12:00am

I know the lyrics are easy to sing along to, but still, how did Sweet Caroline get to be the Sevens anthem? It would have been far better to go with something a little more bone jarring and apropos like Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Sprit. Come on, sing along. 'Here we are now, entertain us. I feel stupid and contagious.'

No doubt that everybody is here to be entertained and, yes, stupid is contagious and not just in the mosh pit known as the South Stand. Look around this whole stadium and you see that stupid is contagious. But stupid is not only good fun, it's harmless fun as well.

So Mister Deejay let's cue up some Nirvana please because 30 years on the Sevens has hardly missed a beat. While much has stayed the same over that time, it's hard to get around the fact that the level of sophistication both on and off the pitch has improved so much. There's not only world-class talent in the stands, there is down on the pitch as well.

Have you seen England lately? Man, who spiked their mushy peas? These blokes are flat out ferocious, particularly this Dave Seymour cat. Delivering sledgehammer hits with his long mane of white hair pulled back, Seymour looks more like the bad guy in a James Bond movie than one of the top sevens players in the world.

And ever since winning their first Sevens back in a rainstorm in 2002, the Poms have been virtually unstoppable. Not bad considering they didn't even bother to send their national squad until about 10 years ago. And what's that? The women in the stands? Jeez, haven't really noticed but I have been told that they have, um, turned their game up a few notches as well. Yeah, lots of folks have turned their game up in what has become one of the truly unique and can't-miss events on the world sporting, and partying, calendar.

'We've had a box at the Sevens for over 20 years,' said American Ross Matthews, president of AIG Greater China Limited. 'This event has become so big that people plan their whole year around it, and why not? It is without a doubt the best sports and partying event in the world.'

Hard to believe that a couple of teams kicking it around at the Football Club 30 years ago could evolve into an event with global cachet. But despite the pollution, people all over the world still want to come to Hong Kong to be a part of the fun and the truth is, there are few places in the world that could hold an event like this.

Few places that would be able to look the other way for a weekend of pure debauchery disguised as a rugby tournament. Watch the beer girls encouraging customers to drink more and tell me how that would play at a sports stadium in the US or Britain. It wouldn't happen. But in Hong Kong, as long as you can still stand, you can still drink.

'And don't forget the spirit of this event either,' says Martin Cohen, in from London for the weekend. 'Sure there are a lot of people drinking but by and large there is no nastiness and few fights. People bump into you and they apologise. This crowd is unbelievably good natured and well behaved. It's civilised debauchery.'

Civilized debauchery? Hey, now that's catchy. I've been watching these InvestHK ads all weekend with a bunch of soulless business people dancing and, apparently, grooving on. But I'm thinking we need something a little sexier to sell a sexy place and sexy event. And let's not even start with the misnomer of Hong Kong being the events capital of Asia or Asia's World City.

Let's tell the truth, let's tell the world: Civilized debauchery, that's Hong Kong. 30 years on with this pow-wow, it wouldn't hurt to add a few new wrinkles. Who knows where this thing will be 30 years from now. But one thing probably won't change over time about this event. The lyrics will still reverberate. Here we are now, entertain us. I feel stupid and contagious.