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  • Sep 3, 2014
  • Updated: 12:25pm

Revelry, reunions and a chance to change your life

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 March, 2011, 12:00am

Simon Drakeford
CEO Frog In The Well Coaching
Shanghai Hairy Crabs captain and historian

Once again, a cast of Shanghai Hairy Crabs will be sidestepping it to the Sevens this year. Last year Australian Will Wright exclusively designed the Crab outfit for the travelling Crabs. Who can forget the detachable arms and where they ended up? You will be sure to catch some Crabs crawling around Central on Friday and Saturday night.

This year a new and improved must-have fashionable Crab outfit will be on display. About five years back, we all went as Hooters girls and that was a hoot, although most of us split our orange shorts early.

The Sevens is a time to make, meet and remember old friends. I spent three years as president of the Pot Bellied Pigs and will be taking part in the annual Bali memorial game on Friday afternoon.

In my role as club historian, I'm writing a book about the history of the Shanghai Rugby Football Club, a history that can be traced back to 1867.

I am keen to hear from anybody who has reminiscences or mementoes ... I recently received the generous donation of a 1930s Shanghai rugby shirt that belonged to an ex-Shanghai and Hong Kong player named W.H.B. Rigg.

(For Shanghai rugby memories, Simon can be contacted on simon@drakefords.com).

Kerry Rochester
Drama teacher
West Island School
Sevens 'Pink Lady'

I don't think that anywhere in the world is there such a positive three-day celebration of sport and humanity. The Hong Kong Sevens restores your faith in mankind. I don't think society gets to celebrate very often these days as a large group and that makes the event here unique. There is a strong sense of community in Hong Kong, particularly at the Sevens.

I took my parents one year and they are still telling their friends about it in their village back in Hull. The Hong Kong Sevens should be on everyone's bucket list, even if you're not a rugby fan.

My first year was in 2000. I'd never been to a big sporting event and I was blown away by it. We were the original pink ladies, with the wigs and a different slogan on our T-shirt every year. There are usually 30 of us.

I'd like to think that our pink ladies have changed people's perceptions of women who play rugby, as we are a bit more glamorous and we love a laugh.

After a year of natural disasters and financial crisis, people need some respite and are looking at the Sevens more than previous years for pure escapism.

Now, where to find 30 pink sombreros?

Michael O'Donnell
Vice-president
international business development, Speedo

I come from Manly Beach in Sydney, a place that rivals Hong Kong at Sevens time for 'Mamals' - Middle Aged Men In Lycra. But the Sevens is hard to beat for people wearing their underpants on the outside. Every year people are dressed as Captain Underpants, Superman, Nacho Libre ... you name it. And OK, I confess, one year, I was one of them.

You could say I live, breathe and wear my job - or at least my brand - to the Sevens. You can't get away from it when Lycra is your livelihood!

I went as Nacho Libre one year channelling Jack Black in this bizarre comedy. Clearly, I was before my time. This year I predict there will be a few more Nacho Libres with Mexico being the new team.

I look forward to the Sevens for many months, and on many levels. My son used to play for DeA Tigers and I coached the minis on the sidelines. My wife and I have experienced the pride many parents feel in the stadium of watching their kids in curtain-raiser games and doing the march past.

There's nothing like the Sevens anywhere and I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Alice Knight
Business management student
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff

I spent two years living in Hong Kong going to Island School, so the Sevens has been a part of my life since I came here when I was 17 years old. I am really looking forward to seeing my family and friends who are back from uni from all over the world.

The Sevens are about a reunion. It will definitely be a chance for family bonding and I suspect my parents will find their way to the South Stand again.

I'm sure there will be a few new surprises in the outfits. I am sure there will be loads of people channelling Jersey Shore, plus Williams and Kates aplenty. I hear some people plan on taking life size cut-outs of Kate Middleton on a hen's night in Lan Kwai Fong. I doubt this version of Kate will make it into the stadium.

The atmosphere in England at the moment with two royal weddings this year reminds me of the weeks in the lead up the Sevens - you can feel the energy on the streets like you can in Hong Kong. I can't wait to be there.

Djuma Adams
Rwanda rugby team ambassador

A year ago, I was living rough on the streets of Rwanda. I was selling cigarettes to make ends meet. Then, by sheer chance, I met Dave Hughes playing rugby in the streets.

Dave visits Rwanda every couple of months because he founded a school for women (akilahinstitute.org) in Kigali. He has been to the Hong Kong Sevens every year since he was two, so he became totally fixated on us coming over.

So, with a mix of trepidation and incredible excitement, last year the Rwanda team came to Hong Kong to play in the Kowloon RugbyFest and witness their first Sevens. The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union got behind us in every way, even down to calling for donations of rugby kit to take back to Rwanda. The media in Hong Kong picked up our story, and so did CNN.

Being thrust into the spotlight was overwhelming, but incredibly life changing. A benevolent British family anonymously offered to fund my university education. I am studying business management and working in the best restaurant in Rwanda.

Through rugby, I am achieving things I could never imagine happening in my life. Due to a knee injury, I am not playing in the Kowloon RugbyFest this time, but will be acting as the team ambassador.

Douglas Woodring
Organiser of Clean Half and the Shek O Challenge swim events
Founder of the Ocean Recovery Alliance and Project Kaisei

Here's the thing. You move to Hong Kong as an American. Sure, there are lots of cultural adjustments like getting used to eating chicken feet with colleagues. Then, in the dead of winter all the people in the office start muttering about 'Sevens'. You think, 'Hang on, isn't eight the Chinese lucky number?' But soon you learn they are talking about some sort of modified game of rugby. You think they are slightly nuts and don't get what the fuss is about, but they say it is a cross between California's Coachella Rock Festival and Carnivale in Rio, mixed with something like the Olympics where only rugby sevens is played. Three days, 24 teams, off-pitch antics that never stop ... the next thing you know, you're hooked, and you're there every year without fail, as I have done for the past 15 years.

There is no tournament like this on the planet.

Most people don't think of America and rugby in the same breath, but now it's been reinstated as an Olympic sport in 2016 in Brazil, and I plan to be there to see it, thanks to what the Hong Kong Sevens has brought to us.

Koko Mueller
Member relations and communications manager, Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club

I have no doubt that there are going to be a lot of Black Swans this year and some pink flamingos, too. There is always a flurry of e-mails going around working out what to wear. My only concern is, 'what can it cover?!'

One year about 20 of us were Brownies and my son was a Cub Scout. It's a pity M (name changed to protect the guilty) doesn't live here anymore ... We went as sheep another year ... and he'd come in dressed as a Gladiator ... or we'd go as angels and he'd rock up as Darth Vader. Every year he'd pretend not to have remembered what he was supposed to be.

I went to Island School and every year we have a reunion on the Thursday. This is the obvious time to have a reunion as so many people come back for the event. It's the only time I see some people all year.

I'm a serial North Stander. I have to confess I was a South Stand Stander back in the day ... that day is now some 25 years behind me.

When it comes to music, I am always keen to know what the organisers have picked for the crowd to dance to; it's also a big part of what makes the Sevens the social event of the year.

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