How to Be a Hong Kong Sevens Superhero
Superpower your way to the perfect rugby weekend with this guide to the game, the matches—and the South Stand.
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The day-by-day rundown of how to win the Sevens.
A chilled-out start. The afternoon is quiet, and people start sneaking out of work early to hit the stadium at around 5pm. After 6pm the Sevens World Series matches begin in earnest, and then it’s a matter of a steady build until 9pm, which the stadium pours out into Lan Kwai Fong and Wan Chai. Don’t go too hard today, or you’ll be left wondering what hit you on Saturday. (This is also an ideal time to try and hook up with someone who can get you into a corporate box.)
Go early and go hard, along with everyone else in the Stadium. Remember 1) what happens at the Sevens stays at the Sevens 2) Yes, that probably is urine which just fell out of the sky 3) Everyone’s here to have a good time, especially the middle-aged cross-dressing nuns.
Hangovers rule the first half of Sunday, which also makes it a great day to snag a great seat before the groaning masses. But by lunchtime the crowd’s up and ready to go again, and they’ll power through to the 7:30pm final. Hope you took Monday off work…
What to Watch (and When)
What’s worth paying attention to on the pitch…
- 11am Youth rugby showcase
- 1-5pm Qualifier matches
- 2:50pm Hong Kong v Cayman Islands
- 5:02pm Hong Kong v Germany
- 5:24pm Women’s Rugby Sevens Final
- 5:46pm Opening Ceremony
- 6:10-9pm Sevens matches
- 9:12pm End of Day One
- 7am Gates open
- 9-11am Qualifier matches
- 10:50am Hong Kong v Zimbabwe
- 11:18am-2pm Sevens Matches
- 2:14pm Team March Past/David Hasselhoff concert
- 3:18-6pm Sevens Matches
- 6:16-7:30pm Qualifier matches
- 7:44pm End of Day Two
- 7am Gates open
- 9:30am-1pm Sevens World Series Matches
- 1:30-4:18pm Sevens semifinals
- 4:30pm Qualifier finals
- 5pm Shield final
- 5:30pm Bowl final
- 6pm Plate final
- 7pm Cup final
- 7:30pm End of Day Three
Stay up-to-date with the Hong Kong Sevens by following our Twitter feed for live coverage.
Hong Kong Stadium
The stadium was built in 1982 as the 28,000-seat Government Stadium, but as a result of the Sevens’ popularity it was expanded into the current 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium in 1994. And yes, it’s still way too small for all the people who want to go. This year there were just 9,000 individual daily tickets up for grabs, or 3,000 per day—the bulk of the tickets go to the city’s rugby clubs.
- A. The East and West Stands (Upper Levels)
- The upper levels of the stadium offer commanding views of the pitch and all the action: It’s worth scaling the steps just for a look from the bird’s eye perspective, although you might have to wade through the large groups of international schoolkids who tend to camp out in the upper reaches. The main problem with the upper levels is that there’s no alcohol allowed, which limits enjoyment for many.
- B. The Corporate Boxes
- Not for the likes of mere mortals, the Corporate Boxes are a whole other Sevens experience. Free-flow drinks and food, air-conditioning, and the only people behaving badly are your boss and your company’s CEO.
- C. Mission Possible Box
- Say hi to charity box Mission Possible at the far southeast of the stadium. Thanks for making it about more than just booze, guys!
- D. The East and West Stands
- The logical place for any sane person to watch the Sevens: there’s good access to drinks and food, seats are fairly easy to come by and the toilets are relatively clean. How boring.
- E. The South Stand
- This is where it all goes down. The South Stand is part-bacchanal, part-public exhibition and all fun. It’s a costumed, riotous mess of booze, jokes and some occasional passing attention paid to the rugby. It’s the party to end all parties in Hong Kong, and you have to be there. Problem is, the South Stand is a victim of its own popularity. Especially on Saturday, you’ll have to get there early to get in. Last year the gates opened at 7am and the South Stand was full by 8:30am: after that a one-in-one-out policy applies, which means long surreal queues sandwiched between the group of sexy LCSD street sweepers and the group of sexy localists. Show up by 7:30 at the latest to avoid this.
- F. What to Pay Attention To On the Pitch
- All Hong Kong matches. Have some pride! Any matches with Fiji or New Zealand. The two top-ranked teams are always worth tearing your attention away from your beer for.
- The Haka. The New Zealand All Blacks are legendary for their Haka, the Maori war dance. In 2014 the All Blacks won the Hong Kong Sevens and then stripped off their shirts in the pouring rain to perform the Haka, in a move that turned every eye and straight man in the stadium.
- David Hasselhoff. The Hoff is this year’s star guest, and he’ll be wandering the stadium as well as masterminding Saturday’s lunchtime concert.
- G. The North Stand
- The North Stand is the South Stand’s relaxed, easy-going, older brother. While there are pockets or rowdiness, this is a great and much calmer place to check out the action without the risk of someone throwing a beer at you because you looked at his Hodor-from-Game-of-Thrones costume funny.
- H. Meet and Greet Area
- Grab an autograph and meet the hometown heroes between the North and West Stands, or try your best to melt into the arms of the inevitably good-looking Fijian and Australian sides.
- I. Kely Support Group
- The teenagers’ support group provides a chill-out area for teenagers who’ve taken the Sevens as an opportunity to discover that yes, indeed, they should have limits. Although it’s not like the adults are setting much of a good example. Upper West Stand next to the escalator, Upper West Concourse, Main Concourse.
- J. Scalpers
- Haven’t been able to land a ticket through official channels? Scalpers line the route to the stadium selling tickets, most of which have been bought from the overseas ticket allocation. That explains why they’re almost all large, bald, slightly threatening middle-aged British blokes.
So What the Hell Is the Rugby Sevens, Anyway?
Rugby Sevens is a lightning-quick, seven-a-side game of rugby. Each half lasts just seven minutes, with a two-minute-long half time. The only exception is a final, which has 10-minute halves.
Players form into a “scrum” and attempt to drive the other team away from the ball, so that it can be picked up and put into play. The ball can be kicked or carried forwards, but it can only be passed backwards. The goal is to touch the rugby ball behind the other side’s goal line,” scoring a “try,” worth five points. You can then “convert” the try by kicking it between the posts for an extra two points.
There are so few people on the pitch that the game is more about deftness and agility than brute strength. At its best a Sevens game is spellbinding as a player ducks, dodges and leaps their way past the other side, chaining passes into a final, exhilarating try. And with each game lasting just 16 minutes, the energy never goes away.
Stay up-to-date with the Hong Kong Sevens by following our Instagram for live coverage.
Obtain and bring the following items: Hand sanitizer and tissues. Even if you don’t think they’re necessary, you’ll reach a point when they can be bargained for drinks or food.
Plastic raincoats. They’re horrible, sticky and you won’t look cool, but they’re also the best way to survive the sudden thunderstorms that inevitably hit the Sevens. Also, when someone throws a cup of what you are really, really hoping is just warm beer at you—it’ll slough right off.
Painkillers. You’ll be day-drinking for HOURS. Ward off that early onset hangover however you can.
Sunblock. You’ll be everyone’s best friend.
What to Wear in the South Stand
Are you going costumed or uncostumed?
I don’t need no stinkin’ costume. Wear clothes that you don’t mind burning afterwards. Cheap slip-on shoes are always a good idea. High-heels are a major no-no.
Costumes all the way, baby. Costumes are always appreciated and you’ve got a good chance of making the front page of the papers if you’re original/sexy enough. Alternatively, pick costume components that can be easily swappable with the hot guy/girl next to you. Head to Central’s Pottinger Street, which has been the city’s costume mecca for years. It’ll be full of other last-minute Sevens shoppers.
Don’t black up! Seriously. Every year there’s always a few people who have donned black face paint as part of some unfathomable “banter.” Don’t do this. Why are we even having to say it?
Read More: Go Day to Night at the Hong Kong Sevens
Prep The Music
No one ever accused the Sevens DJs of being original. Expect 20-second blasts, alternating, of the following:
- “Hey Baby (If You’ll be My Girl)” by DJ Otzi
- “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond
- “It’s Like That” by Run–D.M.C.
- “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers
- “Who Let the Dogs Out?” by Baha Men
- “Mambo No.5” by Lou Bega
Yeah, that’s pretty much it.
The More You Know…
Learn some facts about the Sevens that you can educate bore your seatmates with during the lulls. Some examples:
When was the first Sevens held? “1976. Actually, it was the first rugby tournament to take on commercial sponsorship in a big way—Rothman’s and Cathay Pacific, which sponsors the tournament to this day.”
Who’s won the most trophies? “I think you’ll find that defending champions Fiji have won the tournament more times than any other team—a total of 15 trophies.”
Who’s playing for the first time? “Trivia bite! The Cayman Islands is debuting for the first time, making it the 60th nation to compete in the tournament.”
Did you know that—“Yes, yes I did. The Rugby Sevens makes its Olympic debut at the Rio Olympics later this year. All of the teams that qualified for the Olympics will be playing in the Sevens, which makes it a pretty good barometer of the summer’s medal tally—and saves you the airfare to Rio, too.”
Why are the beer cups so huge in the South Stand? ”As a matter of fact, the one-liter cups of beer were introduced when pitchers were banned in 2006, after lairy South Standers started flinging the heavy plastic jugs back and forth.”
Hong Kong Stadium is about a 15 minute walk from Causeway Bay MTR, Exits A or F1. 55 Eastern Hospital Rd., So Kon Po, 2895-7926.
By all means share a cab to the stadium, as long as your friends are not useless and flaky, like 90 percent of all Hong Kong friends. Taxi drivers tend to know where you’re headed as soon as you get in. It’s probably because you’re dressed like a slutty Doraemon.
Taxis leaving the stadium are a nightmare: They all hike their fares. But this year the Rugby Union has put on a bunch of free shuttle buses to alleviate the load. Buses run every six minutes to Lan Kwai Fong and Admiralty MTR, from Cotton Path to the north of the stadium. Bus times are Friday 9:30-10:30pm, Saturday 7:30-9:30pm and Sunday 7:30-8:30pm.
Sevens Safety Advice
Pace Yourself. If you got to the South Stand nice and early, you’ll probably be cracking into the big liter cups of Carlsberg pretty sharpish. All well and good, but remember that it’s 8am and by noon there’s a good chance that you will have consumed literally four liters of beer. A liter of Carlsberg contains 3.8 units of alcohol, so that’s 15.2 units of alcohol before lunchtime. So take it easy in the afternoon, yeah?
Be Wary of Weird Suntans. The Sevens sun is subtle and lethal. If you’re wearing a neckband, beer holder or you’re just in an inventive costume, prep for the kind of tan that people will be asking about at work for the next week.
Plan Your Nap. If it all gets a bit too much, you’re going to need a quick midday nap. But there’s no worse idea than just nodding off in a boozy haze in the middle of the South Stand. Retreat to somewhere out of the way—we suggest the upper levels of the East and West Stands—or you WILL wake up with a pair of gonads resting on your shoulder. This has literally happened. More than once.
Keep Your Valuables Safe. Not from thieves. At the Sevens, the greatest risk to your valuables comes from liquids of all kinds. If the rain doesn’t get you, then the beer—or way worse—will.