Hong Kong crowd doesn’t boo the Aussies anymore, and David Campese can’t understand why
One of the great traditions of the Sevens has seemingly disappeared as the Wallabies are no longer greeted by jeers
David Campese used to wonder why the Hong Kong crowd would always boo the Aussies. Now he wonders why they don’t.
It appears that one of the greatest traditions of the Hong Kong Sevens – booing Australia – is no longer part of the So Kon Po culture as a new generation of players and fans take over in the professional era.
Campese, who led Australia to their last Hong Kong title in 1988, was a particular target of the fans who had a love-hate relationship with his brilliance and arrogance.
“It’s very unusual,” said Campese, who remembers being booed when he was named as part of the Magnificent Seven, alongside Waisale Serevi, Jonah Lomu and Eric Rush, in 2015.
“When they had the 40th year of the Sevens and I was one of the Magnificent Sevens, I said to the guys, ‘wait, when they announce my name, they’ll boo’, and they did.
“But the Aussie team doesn’t get booed anymore. It used to really inspire us to play better. I have no idea why it doesn’t happen any more.
“Maybe because that was the old era, the guys now are a bit younger and better looking. It’s a shame. Some traditions stay and some change. Maybe if we get them to boo again, the Aussies can play better and win again,” said 1991 World Cup winner Campese.
The booing of the Aussies stemmed from an incident in the 1977 Hong Kong Sevens when a Fijian player was sent off in a match instead of an Australian.
The 54-year-old former winger remains a traditionalist in terms of how feels sevens should be played and said the Australian team needed more arrogance and flair.
The Wallaby Sevens were beaten in the semi-finals by Fiji, although they turned in a gutsy performance and had an outstanding victory over England in the pool stages.
“I still think sevens is an easy game to play,” he said. “The professional era has changed the way people play sevens and changed attitudes.
“I watched Australia play England and it was hit up, punch up, punch up. That’s not sevens. Sevens is about creating space. Even South Africa were kicking balls across.
“I’m sitting there and wondering why they are kicking the ball. If you haven’t got the ball you can’t win. Why kick it away?
“Now, when they get a penalty, they kick for the line and then they walk to the line-out. That’s not sevens, that’s fifteens.
“We need to go back to the grass-roots. We need that bit of cockiness, a bit of arrogance, all in a good way.”
Campese though, still feels Hong Kong is the best tournament in the world.
“Definitely it is,” he said. “You have a tournament in Australia and Australians go, in England, the English go. But Hong Kong is unique and it’s the only place where people from all over the world come to watch rugby.”