It's business (and fun) as usual - nightlife

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 March, 2010, 12:00am


Former England prop (24 caps) and a regular Sevens visitor

I first came to the Sevens in 1995. In those days, I'd head to Lan Kwai Fong and then on to Joe Bananas until daybreak with a huge group of mates. We'd order endless trays of vodka jellies, tequila, Slippery Nibbles and Springboks. Named after the South African team, this concoction features Creme de Menthe and South African Amarula. It tastes a lot like a mint Aero chocolate bar. Then I'd sleep and head to the stadium to do it all over again. I admit, I am one of the Sevens revelers who has sometimes made it to the stadium just in time for the semis and the final.

These days, we usually arrive on the Wednesday and kick off with dinner at the West Villa Chinese Restaurant in Lee Gardens, then on to the Devil's Advocate, bar-hopping in Wan Chai and finally ending up in Dusk Till Dawn. One year, five long-legged stunning Russian girls breezed in, ordered five flaming Lamborghinis, downing them one by one and breezed right out - what a stunning sight! One year after touching down, I was followed by a coach load of Chinese kids who thought I was Mike Tyson!'


Former Wallaby and popular MC at Hong Kong rugby events

I am a big fan of what Nick Farr-Jones refers to as 'the third half of the game'. This is the term for the off-pitch shenanigans of a rugby crowd, the camaraderie, the banter... and the bars.

A night out starts with Jello shots, Frog skulls, Green Chartreuse shots rounded off with a couple of Bacardi Breezers on the eternally excavated footpath at the Devil's Advocate. Being outside 'Devils' is like standing down at the front of the old stadium pre-1994, where all of the rugby world circled the field to say 'g'day' and have a jug of beer or pimms with old and new mates.

Then I head to Joe Banana's for an 'uncle merv' and then Dusk Till Dawn with the desperates and the best music in town. In the real old days, we'd head downstairs to The Dickens bar in the Excelsior with former English prop Gareth 'Coochie' Chilcott, John and David Hall and the Gulliver's Group leaders. It was fantastic for a singalong until Wan Chai warmed up! Lovely! Go you good thing.


Commentator and regular MC at Sevens events

Don't even try to keep up, and remember the mantra: 'One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor'. I always dance on the bar at Carnegies, it's a good strong bar made to support rugby players. I'll dance to anything by Tom Jones, especially Delilah, which I love hearing at the stadium every year when everyone gets up and does the actions. It's kind of like the Hong Kong Sevens own version of the Mexican wave.

I also frequent the Devil's Advocate, to honour one of the owners at the time, Stevie Speirs, a fantastic Scotsman who was killed in the Bali bombing in October 2002. I am also partial to Dublin Jack in Lan Kwai Fong. There's nothing in the world like the bars in Hong Kong during Sevens time.


New Zealand sevens coach and former player

I am known to keep my team on a pretty tight leash. When Eric Rush was still in the team, he used to say he was the only 40-year-old who wasn't allowed to eat ice-cream after his meal, even if he ate all of his vegetables. In recent years, with the Adelaide Sevens falling straight after the Hong Kong Sevens, I've had to keep a pretty tight rein on the team. This year, I might loosen it just a little as the Adelaide Sevens is before Hong Kong. Might.

But of course, New Zealand has had some sensational wins over the years, and how could we not celebrate?

Joe Bananas has been the stuff of legend in the team, and the rookies always hear about this and the Hong Kong Sevens in the same breath. It's a veritable institution and is popular with other visiting sports teams, not just rugby players.


AKA 'Bentos' the former England winger and regular sevens circuit speaker

I always say that in Hong Kong, I never really go to bed, I just go 24 /7 . . . from speaking engagements to the stadium, and for some reason I seem to gravitate towards Wan Chai. I was at the closing of the old Fenwicks last year, and look forward to seeing the new one [now called Escape]. I'll drop into The Doghouse too and I have to confess I like Neptunes. I met some mates at 3am there once and the next thing I knew it was 8am.

Time just disappears like that in Hong Kong. It's my favourite, favourite place on the planet. I've done the trip to the Hong Kong Sevens many times, it's one of the greatest rugby experiences ever.

I played in South Africa with the Lions in 1997 and went there with them in 2005 and 2009 in an ambassadorial role. It was very emotional each time, but still doesn't compare to the Sevens, which is by far the most intense rugby experience you can have.

I will be outside of the Devil's Advocate doing my famous party trick of drinking a pint of Guinness upside down while doing a handstand. Every year I'll go through hoops to get back to Hong Kong.


Celebrated New Zealand veteran of 18 sevens in Hong Kong, and regular guest speaker I've made my annual pilgrimage many times to the Bull and Bear to get in the mood and then I head to Joe Bananas.

The players' function after the Sevens is always a riot, too. Titch [Gordon Tietjens] is a strict coach. When he came on board in the early 1990s, hitting the bars got knocked on the head.

I remember the old China Jump. They were serving jelly shots out of girl's bellybuttons one year. Our eyes were popping out of our heads! Titch ripped us out of there after about five minutes.

Bars like Post 97, California and Al's Diner in LKF were already operating when I first came to Hong Kong around 20 years ago, and they're still in full Sevens swing today. I remember in the early 1990s walking into Post 97 one night. The ceiling was black, with all these exposed pipes. I couldn't miss them because hanging upside down from them was [Australian Wallaby] Simon Poidevan and the Scottish player, John Jefferies. They had their shirts off and were dancing. They looked like a couple of hyperactive bats. It brought the house down with laughter.

Actually, I don't drink; I just like to watch all the action. Some say I can get into enough trouble without drinking! And hey, someone has got to keep an eye on the boys.


Chief executive of the Leicester Tigers, former Lion, England and sevens player

There's always been a great sense of occasion and camaraderie around the Sevens, in the stadium and in the bars. The last time I was in Hong Kong, I really enjoyed some of the hotel bars in Central for the quiet repose. But over the years, like a lot of Sevens fans, I've had some great times in Joe Bananas. Like many I've gone from the bar to the stadium. I confess I've dressed up in 'Desperate Dan' T-shirts and worn a sampan hat. The event brings out everyone's sense of fun.

Hong Kong has such a unique environment, it's an intriguing place. Apart from the bars, I like to soak up the atmosphere and just wander the back streets. I love heading down to Stanley market then have a quiet beer on the waterfront.


Send to a friend

To forward this article using your default email client (e.g. Outlook), click here.

Enter multiple addresses separated by commas(,)

Related topics