Hong Kong Sevens

A party to make the city proud

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 April, 2007, 12:00am

The party is over for another year; the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens has ended and the hundreds of foreign participants and thousands of spectators are starting to make their way home. Again, we can be proud of successfully staging an event that brings our city international renown.

The Sevens is, after all, the premier event of its kind in the world and along with the Hong Kong Jockey Club's International Races, the biggest spectator sports carnival hosted here each year. It is a time for rugby fans and those who are party-minded to let their hair down.

Those who do not follow rugby or are purists of the 15-a-side rather than seven-a-side version of the game may make light of this achievement. Those more staid members of the community who have witnessed the shenanigans of spectators - the singing, wigs, garish costumes and beer-swilling, among much else - may have frowned with distain rather than looked on with bemusement.

The occasional bad-tempered push and shove and the argy-bargy of rivals also were there, as with many an event involving tens of thousands of people over several days in a laid-back atmosphere. Laudable efforts to curb under-age drinking were not entirely successful. Police and security workers have a warts-and-all story to tell rather than the one of purely good-natured fun. Such occurrences are not confined to the Sevens, though - they happen at carnivals the world over. Fortunately, they were isolated incidents that did not detract from the occasion.

There also is the reality that rugby has a far bigger following among foreigners than local Chinese. The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union is consciously trying to attract a wider following and has made inroads, as the mix of spectators in recent years reveals.

Some who attended will not feel at their best in front of their desks today. Samoa may not have been their favoured team to win. Perhaps the crush, colour and noise was too much for others. But there is no denying the value of the Sevens to Hong Kong. Internationally, it raises our standing as a world city. Locally, it fosters community spirit.

It is a once-a-year festival that we can call our own - and share with the world.