Kenny’s Kickabout

The perils of getting frisky at the tournament in an age of smartphones

Kenny Hodgart mulls lust, missing Germans and a very modest start to saving the planet

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 March, 2014, 10:30am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 January, 2015, 3:06pm

Tales abound of amatory trysts of every stamp at the Sevens. Some (including former team captains) have even met their future spouses during the event.

Love is a many-horned beast, however, and chance encounters often play out less providentially. Or at least so it was for two Canadian men whose eyes met across the rows at Hong Kong Stadium on Friday. After several glances to and fro, the penny dropped that they knew each other; or rather they knew of each other - from having had the same girlfriend; non-concurrently, I understand.

Of course, for all we know this may be an everyday occurrence in Canada, where the winters are very long.

Equally hard to verify was the boast, heard second hand, of a man who claims to have achieved sexual congress one year with seven different women - in one day - and that, furthermore, several of these conquests occurred inside the stadium itself; in the environs of the South Stand, inevitably.

However implausible such figures may seem, it cannot be truthfully said that prudishness holds sway in that area of the stadium.

One American expat lady - stressing, in that way that girls do, that she doesn't normally do these sorts of things - recounts one year taking home a Smurf. Having painted herself red for the occasion - she had dressed as a ketchup bottle - she awoke to find the mingling of colours had left purple smudges all over her apartment.

No doubt you are wondering whether Mr Seven at the Sevens wore a costume. Sadly, I have been unable to settle that question; but anyway it strikes me that the age of smartphones and social media may have put the brakes on such activities. One imagines there are downside risks to it, if you will, for people high up at a Hong Kong bank.

Incidentally, our source reports back that "actually, it turns out seven might have been closer to two".

THEY come from all corners of the globe for the carnival of rugby that is the Hong Kong Sevens - albeit mainly from Anglophone rugby strongholds like New Zealand, Britain and, erm, the United States. The roster of nations at the Sevens suggests, indeed, that it may in fact be more of a genuinely global game than XVs.

On a personal level I have been frustrated in my search for visitors from Germany. It may be simply that they are more reserved than people from countries like Wales and Australia, who tend to festoon themselves in national insignia even for simple endeavours like nipping out to the shops for a loaf.

But the Germans' absence is another missed opportunity to address one of the great sporting mysteries, namely the non-existence of rugby in Teutonic nations.

Also untraceable so far have been spectators from either the Cook Islands (population 19,569) or American Samoa (55,159), both of whom were represented in the qualifying competition this weekend.

It would seem counter-productive that these territories compete in both rugby union and rugby league and no doubt they would be well-advised to consolidate operations; but clearly the very fact that they are putting out teams of players capable of not always getting completely trounced is remarkable in itself.

As an aside, I note that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a significant presence in American Samoa, with 37 congregations. If any of their members have taken the pulse in sections 114 to 120 of Hong Kong Stadium this weekend, we would love to hear from them.

THE PHRASE, I think, is "well-intentioned". There exists a branch of the Hong Kong government called "the environment bureau" - perhaps you are dimly aware of it - and it has teamed up this weekend with the HKRFU and (don't laugh) Sevens co-sponsor Cathay Pacific to mutter about environmental impacts and the like.

Their big idea, according to our information, is "to minimise the environmental footprint of the event and trial new ideas and best practices that could be applied to other major events in Hong Kong in the future".

Seemingly this involves sending out the bureau's new mascot, "Big Waster" - who has a very large, swollen-looking head, presumably from inhaling bus fumes or something - and some student volunteers, to harry people about recycling.

There are also a few recycling bins, somewhat indistinguishable from the other bins, dotted around the stadium. And that's about it. Maybe some shrubs have been consecrated - I don't know.

By my own admittedly rough estimates, Sevens weekend produces enough plastic waste (from beer cups alone) to litter all of American Samoa, consumes half the annual power output of Shenzhen (for the manufacture of fancy-dress costumes), emits methane (from various sources) equivalent to the emissions of four volcanoes, and some other gases from whatever it is planes run on.

In short, minimising the Sevens' "footprint" will be far from straightforward. It is to be hoped Big Waster understands the magnitude of his responsibilities.