TUCKED away three floors above the frenzied bustle of Lockhart Road, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Club's mahogany-lined walls come as a welcome respite from the neon-lit, music-thumping bars at street level. But, as with every local watering hole, the economic downturn has kicked boom times into touch. And the rugby club has adopted new strategies to lure customers. In the past, the club had no need to actively market its membership, thanks largely to an eternal shortage of tickets to the annual international Rugby Sevens tournament. Members are guaranteed two tickets each, leading to a steady stream of new members every year. For the first time in ages, this year's Sevens tournament was not a sell-out. 'Let's just say, they're not breaking the door down for memberships as they once were,' David Bruce, chairman of the sub-committee of the HKRUC, said. 'It's focused our minds, there's no doubt about that.' Denis Burke, the new manager, was brought in to steer the club through these leaner times, with new marketing practices. Now it is holding theme events - wine and whisky tasting, curry and quiz nights, ladies' lunches, speaker lunches and pizza nights - to help bring in customers. 'We're a club for people who have an interest in rugby, but we get a mixed crowd,' Mr Burke said. 'A lot of people are mistaken, thinking the rugby crowd is affluent and therefore we're going to be an expensive club. That's simply not so.'