It's sheer magic - ask Harry Potter

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 March, 2012, 12:00am


For over 40,000 people, the Sevens are an emotional rollercoaster, a week that combines delicious anticipation, months of planning, and inevitable last-minute pandemonium. It's about more than rugby. If you could bottle the raw emotion in the stadium, you could probably change the world.

There's the excitement of old friends flying in as the exchanges of e-mails and phone calls finally come to fruition. The joy of reuniting with children flying back from universities overseas. For some, nothing compares to the thrill of bringing a deal across the line after getting to know a client over a cold beer and shared rugby camaraderie. Equally valid is the chest-pumping pride of parents in the march past, or watching their kids score a try on the pitch where some of the greatest players have launched their careers.

And then there's the pride in your nation, the reminder that you have nationalistic leanings still buried deep in your soul. You may have thought it eluded you after years of being a corporate nomad living in a kaleidoscope of cultures all rolled into a few compact, happily co-existing square miles. But when the commentators call out the name of your country, something, somewhere deep inside, erupts. Yet somehow rooting for Hong Kong is equally satisfying. You can't explain it to visitors, but when the home-town seven take to the pitch, you're like a raw nerve ending.

For the people working behind the scenes there's the white-knuckle fear that keeps everything running like clockwork. Months of planning, precision and praying to the rugby Gods have reached their zenith.

For the players, there's the desire to win after struggling to get selected and years of dedicated training. The journey to get here that is not just a few hours on a plane; it's a lifetime of liniment and injuries, bruises and blood, sweat and even tears.

If you're hosting visitors, every preciously calculated square foot of your flat is fair game. Last-minute shopping nearly clears supermarket shelves and practically causes shortages of bedding and pillows.

But the magnanimity of the rugby spirit takes over. You'd happily let these guests occupy your hallway in sleeping bags. 'Can I borrow that sleeping bag to wear to the sevens dressed as a slug?' 'Can I turn your duvet into a Michelin Man costume?' This is small potatoes to Sevens hosts.

Dress-up enthusiasts have weekly meetings for months to heatedly debate 'the outfit'. Inevitably, it ends up in a last-minute run to Shenzhen or frenetic internet searches for satin, sequins and spandex. And that's just the men. If life gives you lemons, put them down your bra and wear them to the stadium. Or like Lady Gaga, make them into a dress.

In corporate boardrooms, the decors and themes of stadium boxes are guarded like state secrets for months. Workshopping groups nervously strategise to sort them. As Daniel Radcliffe, AKA Harry Potter said: 'Only carpenters should attend workshop'. But hey, there's a box theme idea. 'Who's tasked to get the CEO to dress up as Voldemort? And Dumbledore? How do you get him in a wig down to his navel when he already wears a toupee?' Then there are the fights among family in the weeks leading up, dust-ups that make Christmas seem like a game of tiddlywinks. Who's babysitting the kids? Who's babysitting the clients? 'It's not my turn' may be the most hackneyed phrase in homes in Sevens season.

Organising children for mini-rugby, schmoozing clients, juggling your diary - how to fit it all in? With lunches and dinners all over the place, diaries are jam-packed like an All Black scrum. Businesspeople scurry from one Sevens-related event to another. Getting through the week takes the skill, determination and dexterity of Serevi.

Forget gold and derivatives - the rugby circuit after-dinner speakers are the hottest commodity this week.

For the speakers, creating comedy conjures up more terror than their days on the pitch facing a team they knew they couldn't beat. They pray that in Hong Kong political correctness has not yet zapped the lifeblood out of laughter - that they can still get away with it.

And that's what we all want - just to get away with it. Through the medium of these highly prepared teams playing in this amazing event, we are able to put everyday things aside and unleash a lust for life that cannot be compared to anything else. It's like college with cash, a crescendo that goes for three days straight.

The Sevens is the ultimate antidote to life's woes and work pressures in a way that is indescribable to anyone who has never lived through it. It's the agony and the ecstasy, the yin and the yang, the guts and the glory and the fine, fine line between pleasure and pain.

Somewhere, everywhere, in the stadium at any point in time, the emotion is raging - joy, pride, passion, thrills, adrenalin, happiness, humour, expectation, and even disappointment. The sevens beast roars within us all in different ways and for different reasons.