Sevens scrum lucky for some; many miss out

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 December, 2007, 12:00am

A 15-hour wait for tickets to the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens next year was worth it for out-of-town sporting fans Robert Smith and Mike Barker.

Sevens tickets safely in hand, they dashed to the airport to catch a flight to Las Vegas for another sporting event - the welterweight boxing showdown between Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather.

'We have been in this queue since 8pm on Friday night. It was a long night,' said Mr Smith after buying the two tickets he was permitted for the March 28-30 tournament.

'But it was worth turning up early as we have to catch a flight at 2pm to Las Vegas to watch the fight. But we will be back for the Sevens.'

The British businessmen were among the first 50 people in the 2,500-strong queue that snaked around the Hong Kong Stadium well before yesterday's public sale of 5,000 tickets began at 11am. They knew they would have to get in early. Hundreds of others were caught cold and left disappointed.

Newcomer to Hong Kong Thea Rigby said: 'My son plays mini-rugby for Hong Kong Football Club and as such we are assured of two tickets - for me and my husband - and entry for my son. But I need one more ticket for my daughter.'

Simon Francis, another hopeful, said: 'We have also got tickets through our rugby club. But I want to get two more tickets for my parents, who will be coming from England for the Sevens ... otherwise we might have to try overseas travel agents.'

Both left disappointed despite arriving at 7am, half an hour after Rugby Football Union officials began telling the late arrivals it was pointless joining the queue.

The luckiest pair yesterday were buddies Andrew Roberston and Allan Learoyd, 2,499th and 2,500th in the queue.

'I guess we are very lucky. We thought we had plenty of time,' said a relieved Mr Learoyd, who has watched the Sevens for 12 years.

There were 1,000 fewer tickets available for the public this year.

'There has been a significant growth in the local rugby community. More people have joined our clubs and we had to cater to them, said union executive director Allan Payne. Still, he said clubs and the public had got 60 per cent of tickets for the tournament.