What’s Up With the Streakers at the Hong Kong Sevens?
Rugby is a British sport—and at heart, there’s just nothing more British than getting your bits out and running through public places.
But streaking at the Sevens has a long, hallowed history. The Sevens’ first streak happened just before the finals in 1986: Jonathan Titley of the 6th Gurkha Rifles and a fellow officer stripped down to their desert boots and ran the length of the pitch, carrying the flag of Brunei’s Pirates Rugby Club. And so history was made, and the Sevens has seen streakers most years ever since.
Hong Kong—and the world’s—most famous streaker is Briton Mark Roberts, who started his global streaking career in 1993 at the Hong Kong Sevens, when he streaked not once but twice—including during the final, when he grabbed the ball and scored a try before converting it.
The whole thing started, as all Hong Kong stories do, as a drunken bet: At the now defunct Yelts Inn bar in Lan Kwai Fong, no less. But once Roberts had pulled off his clothes-less canter, he discovered that he rather liked the attention. Really, really liked it, in fact. As of 2013 our home-grown streaker has got his bits out some 518 times at events around the world: Mostly sporting tournaments, but his meat and two veg have also graced such august events as the Turner art prize, the Mr. Universe Competition and the Cannes Film Festival.
In a very entertaining writeup of the streak on his website (thestreaker.org.uk), Roberts writes about being fortified by a couple of pints of beer before he flung his clothes off and himself over the barriers, saying “I would like to thank Carlsberg for helping me start off my career and becoming ‘probably the best streaker in the world’.” Some truths hold true, even 22 years on…
Sadly, Roberts appears to have since hung up his, um, streaking cap. But the city’s streakers have carried on, even if they seem to be wearing a few more clothes than they used to. Take 2010’s “Furry Streaker,” who sprinted across the pitch while dressed in most of an animal costume. He managed to climb the crossbar and even pretended to surrender, before leaping to his feet and skillfully evading three stewards and jumping into the stands, where he was finally apprehended.
Last year saw a streaker on the pitch wearing only a skimpy pair of speedos and running shoes, notable mainly because he was unusually handsome. But pity the poor harried pitch stewards, who have to lead barely clothed flesh past the baying, jeering, cheering South Stands. For the streakers, it’s a moment of immortality. For the pitch stewards, it’s just another job.