Out on a memorable note

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 March, 2011, 12:00am

Rupert John Mackenzie Gerald was born with a name to live up to, and live up to it he did as the sun set on So Kon Po. In a pale blue suit dressed as a Thunderbird, the student living in Beijing entertained the crowd as they dispersed from the stadium.

It was the Sevens version of the Last Post, the emotive cacophony of his bagpipes working their magic through the crowd. They cheered, they clapped, they even threw money in a hat someone spun off their head onto the ground in front of him.

Although not all in the crowd were well-versed in the traditional Scottish folk dances that accompany the bagpipes, the euphoric mood of the Sevens meant they had no inhibitions in dancing to the reels, as they're known, some of which go by the quaintest of names.

And what a motley crew of dancers they were, too, in their array of fantastic garb. Mr Incredible danced the Gay Gordons, Canadian Mounties did the Dancing White Sergeant, and the men from Wagga with inflatable donkeys attached to their hips swayed in a version of The Machine Without Horses. Girls in short tulle skirts may well have been doing The Frisky.

Those who spontaneously jigged along in their own fashion may not well have known that there is a reel called Rest and Be Thankful but they - and 40,000 others - were thankful to have attended the greatest rugby carnival on the planet.

For people of diverse nationalities to find such common joy in a game and unfamiliar music illustrates the Sevens' parallel-universe effect.

In that universe every year, people reunite with family and friends, make friends for life, forge new business alliances and, yes, occasionally they even fall in love and get married.

Rupert, who had funded his trip from piping at Caledonian Society events in Beijing and Shanghai, seemed to have caught the eye of an attractive blonde Scottish lassie.

There is, after all, a reel called The Dream Catcher, and in that moment, perhaps he had caught his.