Sozzled Sevens: the lost art of safely enjoying a boozy Hong Kong Rugby Sevens

Hints and tips for enjoying your Sevens hijinks safely

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 April, 2017, 1:07pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 April, 2017, 1:34pm

The tricky issue of drinking during the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens can be a disorientating (and oftentimes dangerous) challenge even for the most battle-hardened boozers.

Friday is a “late” start after an early dart from the office – how quick should you go when you arrive at the ground? All out, or keep your powder dry for a painfully early kick-off on Saturday? It is Friday night after all.

Saturday brings a whole raft of unique strategic conundrums of its own. You’ve managed the early rise required to reserve a perch in the South Stand and have negotiated a beer breakfast, but now what?

Do you try to keep pace with the rowdy group in the row behind you drinking from each others boots by 9am? Or do you stick to the safe, steady speed you’ve adopted to ensure you see the last match of the day? And, good grief, it’s hot in here.

And as for Sunday – you’re back in the office tomorrow, but a few pints sound nice. It might just straighten you out – hair of the dog and that. But if it’s a sunny day and they’re going down too easily ...

There are few occasions on the Hong Kong sporting calendar when boozing plays such an prominent role in the festivities.

During my first Sevens, my own excitement was tempered somewhat by my suffering a severe nut allergy reaction and being unable to breathe. There can be few things as sobering as being flanked by four security guards on Sevens Sunday and escorted to the infirmary tent.

Possibly the only upside of that experience was that I managed to avoid some of the more serious drink-related pratfalls that can befall a reveller over the course of the Sevens weekend.

Here are some do’s and don’ts of drinking on Hong Kong Sevens weekend.

Beware of fire

One tale from a legendary Lockhart Road institution recalls a certain rugby 10s team’s yearly ritual. It involves placing a flaming shot of tequila on your head, which you are not allowed to extinguish until you have downed a pint. Please don’t try this at home.

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Co-ordinate your costumes

One should beware the pitfalls of erroneous fancy dress. My advice: pick something light and airy to let the breeze in.

Do not follow the example of the group of revellers dressed in Teletubbies costumes one year. It provided plenty of logistical problems: poor old Tinky-Winky had to dangle his triangle head out of a cab window. The driver wasn’t having it, and he had to remove the headpiece altogether before they could proceed on their journey.

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Keep your clothes on

Disregard the example of two men who decided to strip naked on Lockhart Road after a post-Sevens session and block the traffic. One had a stand-off with a Mercedes driver, adopting an NFL blocker’s stance. The bemused driver edged forward slowly, until a fed-up cab driver steamed ahead.

One of our heroes opted to jump on top of the cab in order to halt its progress, yet didn’t realise the bonnet was very warm. Our plucky cab surfer moved like a nude cat on a hot tin roof.

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Leave the danger to the players

There is the tale of one former British & Irish Lions player who decided to do a handstand against the wall of one Wan Chai tap house while downing a pint of Guinness. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t clever.

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Watch yourself

And finally, expensive personal items are a no-no – you’ll be lucky to escape with your iPhone not smashed into a thousand pieces after an unfortunate meeting with the pavement.

The same goes for flash watches. The police have only ever been called to the aforementioned bar once in the history of the Sevens and it was all over one upstanding chap accidentally knocking another’s Rolex off his wrist to its doom on the floor. A scrap ensued before both found themselves in the back of a police van. Not as much fun as the South Stand.