Wear it with pride
A Hong Kong Sevens shirt has been the ultimate souvenir since the famous tournament began in 1976. While the shirts may fade, the memories remain vivid for supporters, sponsors, insiders and players. If men liked shopping, they'd call it research. We unearthed a few who have done their Sevens T-shirt research well ... and some ladies, too
There's great pride and privilege associated with the Hong Kong jersey. There's 40,000 people cheering for you. The Hong Kong crowd are behind you, and so is everyone else in the stadium. Some people might say some of the players don't have the same pride as those of us born and bred in Hong Kong. That's absolute rubbish. They feel just as privileged as we do when we run through the tunnels and out on the pitch.
Pulling on the Hong Kong jersey is the biggest honour I've had bestowed on me in my whole life. The first time I remember this sensation was when I played in the Asian Games in Doha in 2006. I have the same buzz at the Hong Kong Sevens. I still get butterflies in my stomach. This year will be my sixth year of this amazing adrenaline rush. Last October, I experienced this rush again when we took to the pitch in Mumbai in the HSBC Asian Sevens Series. We beat our closest rivals, Japan, to become the first Hong Kong team to achieve this with a 28-7 victory. However, nothing really compares to the energy of 40,000 people backing us on our home turf.
I have attended each and every one of the past 29 Hong Kong Sevens. This year marks my 10th year in charge of keeping the event running and on schedule. So I suppose it's appropriate I am the proud owner of an official Cathay Pacific Hongkong Bank (now HSBC) 1984 Sevens T-shirt. It's fitting (pardon the pun) that both are back on board as this year's title sponsors.
The event in those days was held at the Hong Kong Football Club before the racecourse expansion knocked it all down. Participating teams in 1984 were not all official national sides, and included Crawshays Welsh, French Barbarians, Public School Wanderers and (Irish) Wolfhounds. But the big guns were still there and Fiji defeated New Zealand 26-0 in the final.
Rod Mason, Tournament Operations Director
Deputy District Commander, Sha Tin District, Hong Kong Police Force
Almost the first thing I did after setting up InvestHK in the middle of 2000 was arrange to be a sponsor for the 2001 Sevens. Just about the last thing I did before retiring in December 2008 was signing the contract to be a sponsor for the 2009 event. To make the occasions even more memorable for our guests from around the world, the events team in the department also produced T-shirts every year and gave one to everyone we invited to the hospitality suite. And - yes - I kept all mine.
My clearest memories are of events at the old Football Club pitch. The time it was completely flooded after a cloudburst and the fire brigade turned up to pump out the water. The time Korea beat Fiji and got a standing ovation . I vaguely recall taking my daughters, Tiffany and Alex, to the present stadium briefly when they were very small. Last year's tournament was Tiffany's first real taste of the Sevens that she can remember, and she immediately signed up to play for Club in the under-14s!"
Stanton Chase Search Director, Former Director General, InvestHK
Like a lot of Hong Kong people, I've moved a lot in the 30 or so years I've lived here. I've thrown out over 20 Sevens shirts, but I've kept six favourites. It's strange. Even though they were never washed, there seems to have been some shrinkage. Every year, the shirts seem a little tighter. All the very old ones are gone - ravaged by mildew, or perhaps turned to dust. The oldest one still in my closet dates back to 1997. The material is giving away at the four corners of the embroidered badge, which gives it that peek-a-boo nipple tease look. I know that is such a turn on in middle-aged men. Drives women wild… or away … but it drives them somewhere…
My first Sevens was in 1981 and many of the players on the Canadian team were people I'd played against in Vancouver. I have a favourite shirt from the 1998 Sevens. It was the tournament that followed the Asian financial crisis and sponsors pulled out left, right and centre. Credit Suisse/First Boston stepped in at the last minute and they sewed a new embroidered badge over the old one - hence the rest of the shirt giving away around the badge. It was also the first year the Chinese national side played.
Owner, South Stream Seafoods Ltd
I have been to every Sevens since the tournament's inception in 1976. My kids were seven and 10 years old at the first Sevens and every year I'd buy them a T-shirt, or send some home to family and friends in Australia.
They also evoke some wonderful memories, such as taking my first granddaughter, Paige, to the Sevens in 2002, then in 2005 her sister Erin, who now plays at the Sevens. So my 2005 shirt has a special memory as Erin is so passionate about the game and dreams of taking part in the Olympics. I remember in 2010 I was delighted to see the Sevens become an Olympic sport. I hope we can see squash - a non-Olympic sport - enter into the Games, following the model set down by the Sevens. Hong Kong's contribution to this was magnificent, and when my family wear Sevens shirts it reminds me of Hong Kong's place on the world sports stage."
Vice-president, World Squash Federation
One of the most popular Sevens songs is Who Let The Dogs Out? and during the tournament the Dog House bar channels this, with its own T-shirt. We challenge punters to do a set challenge in one hour in order to win a rugby shirt. If you could harness the energy and vibe of a Sevens it would heal the world.
There are many people from such diverse countries having the time of their lives in one of the best cities in the world. And you see some funny sights. On the Monday after the Sevens last year, 26 Australians came into the bar in the morning in their pyjama bottoms and Dog House T-shirts with hotel pillows as they were all 'in the Dog House'. I gave them a free beer, and they went back to their hotels and to bed with pillows tucked under their arms. The shirts for me each year create a whole new set of Sevens memories."
Managing Director, The Dog House Bar , Wan Chai
In about 2004, an old teammate from Chicago was playing for US when he suffered a bad knee injury. I hadn't really caught up with him since I left Chicago in 1999 so he ended up staying on for a couple weeks while his knee settled. As it turned out, it was Easter break so we had a post-Sevens party week that rivalled the Sevens week itself!
My mate ended up going on to play in two Rugby World Cups for the US, and when he left to go home that year he gave me one of his team polos and I gave him some of my Hong Kong shirts. That USA Rugby polo is now my 'Sunday of the Sevens' shirt.
General Manager, Holman Fenwick Willan
I moved to Hong Kong in the 1990s and I stayed until 2009 when I moved back to Sydney. The Sevens was a big part of my time in Hong Kong and I have travelled back every year since. Each year was different but somehow familiarly comfortable. Walking back into the stadium causes memories to flood back, familiar faces soon appear in sequins corner, the beer and banter begin to flow and then somewhere in the background the rugby starts.
My wardrobe has a corner reserved for Sevens jerseys, T-shirts and caps along with the special attire that we wore so proudly every day of the Sevens. Hawaiian shirts, Steve Irwin gear, a fluorescent lime green jacket, a sequined poncho … the list goes on. My favourite T-shirt is from 2009. It reminds me of the end of an era and the start of a new chapter. While life is always moving on, memories of the Sevens last forever.
Chief Innovation Officer, Megabourse