Hong Kong Sevens

Sevens seen: women in the Lion’s Den (at last), and don’t forget to tip your taxi driver this weekend

The exclusive Carbine Club Lunch was a hit with its new female members ahead of the tournament

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 April, 2018, 6:00pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 April, 2018, 6:02pm

Proving that the Hong Kong Sevens is a game for all, last year was the first year that women were allowed into the Carbine Club pre-Sevens lunch, rubbing shoulders with a host of all-time greats.

They included Springboks Jean de Villiers, John Smit and Mornay du Plessis, and former Lions Andy Nicol, Warren Gatland, Lawrence Dallagio, Andy Hall, Peter Wheeler and Ieuan Evans.

This year, the bush telegraph was working overtime and women were quick to take up the still coveted seats, despite this Sevens falling just after Easter and the Ching Ming Festival, meaning three days could be taken off work and spun into a 10-day break.

Marketing specialist Mary Covatta, who was enjoying her first Carbine experience, said: “I speak three languages – English, Italian and sports humour.”

“My daughters grew up in Hong Kong and one has three caps for England and one may well play for Hong Kong , so I’m enjoying today’s rugby banter,” said teacher Christine Hood.

‘My husband is the corporate handbag. I got the job first in Hong Kong, I love a rugby lunch,” said another well turned-out corporate.

Ceryn Fisk-Jones, wife of one of the Carbine Club speakers and former international Robert Fisk-Jones said: “I was working for a sports tour operator when I met Robert in Argentina. I am well used to rugby humour. The Welsh are never embarrassed.”

As the speakers entertained, Smit said of his late night sessions with De Villiers, “the stories go on and most have got nothing to do with actual rugby.”

Proferring some sage advice from his wife, he added: “If you worry about coming second, you’ll forget to come first.”

The lunch was not a short one, most having put a red line in the diary designating high noon as the beginning of the Sevens weekend. There were stories to which “Kai Tak Rules” apply, possibly unprintable.

Hong Kong Sevens tickets going for a song is music to fans’ ears and no reason for concern for HKRU

One of the Carbine head honchos said: “This is an environmental lunch, even the jokes are recycled.”

The Carbine networking club was named after a racehorse in Melbourne and its tentacles have spread far and wide since 1961.

Taxi service with a smile

Hong Kong has 40,000 taxi drivers who are up in arms over another 30,000 trying to “steal” their business working for “illegal” ride-sharing service Uber.

The drivers are even more disgruntled than usual and have even threatened to sue the government if it legalises ride-sharing services.

Against that background, you’ll be lucky finding a happy cabby this weekend – and one who won’t be trying to take you in circles.

We found one, though. Ah Luk is old–school and aboard his trusty red Toyota Crown, it’s all about passenger service.

“The destination is always decided by the passenger,” he says with a smile and a demeanour that is clearly intent on service.

Hong Kong taxi drivers threaten to ‘defend’ their rights if police don’t crack down harder on Uber

Ah Luk would be the type of taxi driver to track down the owner of a lost mobile phone or pair of sunglasses. This is often the case with Hong Kong cabs, the destination-dodging drivers giving others a bad name.

“I must drive about 40 times every Sevens to the “dai kai cheung” (Hong Kong stadium),” he laughed. “In between, I stop to eat a lunchbox and use a public toilet.”

Ah Luk has been driving a taxi for 10 years, and there’s no Kangaroo accelerator for this cabby, who knows what the brake pedal and accelerator are for, and when to use them.

“The rugby sevens passengers are very talkative and like to tell me all about the rugby. They have very joyful manners. I like the special costumes, whether they are in fancy dress or decorate their faces.”

Don’t forget to tip. Even though the licence plate is worth HK$7 million, most drivers are merely renting the cab and work all hours of the day.