40,000 fans vie for 4,000 Hong Kong Sevens tickets via ballot system
The results of a ballot system being used for the first time will today decide who gets tickets allocated to city public for rugby showcase
More than 40,000 Hong Kong residents will be hoping to get lucky today when the ballot for 4,000 public tickets is decided for next month's Sevens.
The odds of landing two tickets - the maximum number each successful applicant is allowed - in the electronic draw are not high, but everyone from the public to top Hong Kong Rugby Football Union officials are convinced the ballot system introduced for the first time is the right way to go.
"At least we have a chance of getting a pair of tickets this time," said fan Dilangen Jayasekera. "This is way better than the previous method of selling tickets on the internet or a telephone hotline. Both couldn't handle the volume of demand and last year, after trying to get through for six hours, I failed. Now I'm in with a chance."
HKRFU chairman Trevor Gregory said: "This is the right way to go. Everyone who wants to go to the Sevens has a realistic chance of getting hold of tickets. Previously, people have been left unhappy, having failed to get through [on the ticketing hotlines and internet] but now all have an equal chance."
Gregory said he was not surprised at the overwhelming response for the event at the 40,000-seater Hong Kong Stadium on March 22-24.
The ballot opened on December 13 and after the seven-week period of registration ended on Monday, more then 40,000 applications had been received.
"And all these are from local residents. Only people with Hong Kong ID cards could register and this goes to prove there is a strong demand for tickets to the Sevens," Gregory said. "This also shows the need for a larger stadium and we are pressing the government to ensure the new facility at Kai Tak will be a 55,000-seater rather than the proposed 50,000. We can definitely fill a 55,000-seater stadium," he said.
With Sevens tickets in huge demand, the union has a strong case, with Gregory saying the new facility at Kai Tak would also be a boon for soccer.
The HKRFU will play host to another major international rugby match this year with the British and Irish Lions stopping over on their way to Australia to play the Barbarians on June 1.
Successful applicants for the Sevens will be given until February 22 to purchase their tickets, failing which the tickets will be returned to the ballot.
This year's Sevens will be the biggest ever, with 28 teams taking part in a two-tier competition.
The 15 core teams on the HSBC Sevens World Series plus Asian champion Hong Kong will take part in the top-tier competition. The other 12 will compete in a pre-qualification event to unearth the team to play in the final qualifying tournament (London Sevens) for core-team status next season.