Men at the mic keep event on smooth path
While 40,000 fans prove the Sevens is the greatest rugby party on the planet, behind the scenes a dedicated team of people ensure it runs without a hitch.
High on the list is Rod Mason, tournament (operations) director. 'I am responsible for all operations-related stuff, which includes everything that happens on the pitch over the three days,' he said.
One of his responsibilities is the team of stadium announcers. The 'A' team (announcers) include Kiwi Philip Campbell, who helps with pronunciation of all the South Sea islanders' names. Phil has been involved even longer than I have and also helps RTHK Radio 3 coverage most years,' Mason said.
Also in the team are Alex Broome, a teacher and another Kiwi; Kevin McBarron, the landlord of the Canny Man and Sean Connery impersonator; and Dickie Wong and Wilson Ng, both serving police officers who will provide Nicam when necessary.
New to the team last year was New Zealander Mark McLeod, a DJ well versed in Wellington Sevens fun who injected some new tunes to the sevens repertoire. 'He has exported a few of our Hong Kong Sevens favourites to Wellington with big success,' Mason said.
Being in charge of the men on the microphone, Mason is the caretaker of many memories of Dave Williams, aka 'Willo', who stepped down in 2010 due to work commitments, but was the main instigator of nonsense from 2003 to 2009. I recall his commentary stunts in years when the Sevens coincided with April Fool's Day,' he said.
'One time he announced that there was a Willy Wonka-type Golden Ticket stuck to the bottom of someone's seat. Most of the 40,000 people in the stadium got out of their seats to look until he boomed 'April Fool' across So Kon Po.'
'On the whole though, I'd have to say tournament control is a pretty serious, alcohol-free zone with everyone working as hard as they can to put out the best, most enjoyable, seamless product,' Mason said.
'We are a bit like swans in the big window facing the pitch - all calm and serene but beneath the window ledge, those legs are paddling like crazy. We are now, and intend to remain, the jewel in the crown of the world series.'