40 Years of the Hong Kong Sevens

Pitch invaders, pints and painted ladies: Hong Kong Sevens fever takes hold

IN PICTURES: 40 years of the Hong Kong Sevens - part 8 (2011-2014). Join us for the final part in our trip through the SCMP archives looking at how the world-famous event grew from humble beginnings to become the city's leading sports tournament

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 March, 2015, 12:23pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 March, 2015, 12:25pm

From humble beginnings in 1976, the Hong Kong Sevens has grown into the city's leading sports event, famed throughout the world. This year, as the tournament celebrates 40 years, we're taking a ride through the SCMP archives to see how the event became the jewel in the sevens crown. 

And if you see yourself or a friend in any of the pictures in our eight-part series, click here to enter your best memories of the Sevens and the most original/entertaining answers will win a pair of three-day tickets to this year’s Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens from March 27-29.

We begin the eighth and final part in 2011. New Zealand beat England in the final, 29-17, after promising they would win the tournament for the people of earthquake-hit Christchurch.

"Sevens is all about family and we’re here playing for each other, and that’s what my guys did,” coach Gordon Tietjens said after his side won their 10th title in Hong Kong.

Fed up after the previous year's antics, fans were warned that they would be arrested if they invaded the pitch ... it didn't work.



Watch: Dress up, drink up, and party: The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens 2014

DON'T MISS: Part 1 of our look through the archives

DON'T MISS: Part 2 of our look through the archives

In 2012 there was a change to the format, with the minnows playing in a separate competition with promotion to 'core-team' status with the big boys at stake.

Hong Kong had high hopes but these were crushed by Japan when Keith Robertson was harshly sent off, leaving the team in tears.

In the main event, Fiji stunned New Zealand in a classic final, winning 38-25 in an all-action affair, even though it was downgraded to the bottom of the SCMP's front page because some guy got elected or something.

The new format was a hit with players and fans, as one-sided games against the minnows became a thing of the past.

“I’m a rugby tragic and I used to use the blowout games to go and fill up on beer, but things have been so close this year I have even had to cut down on my drinking,” one fan told the Post.

DON'T MISS: Part 3 of our look through the archives

DON'T MISS: Part 4 of our look through the archives

In 2013, there was one of the most exciting finals of all time - not that you would have known it if you were watching from home in Hong Kong, as TVB wisely decided to switch to the news as the game between Fiji and Wales went to extra time. Perhaps not coincidentally, the tournament will be on Now TV this year.

For those who still don't know what happened, Wales stormed into a 19-0 half-time lead only for Fiji to level in the second half. Super-sub Osea Kolinisau completed a hat-trick of tries in sudden death to seal the win 26-19.

“It couldn’t get better than that,” said Hong Kong Rugby Football Union chairman Trevor Gregory, even if TVB thought otherwise.

DON'T MISS: Part 5 of our look through the archives

DON'T MISS: Part 6 of our look through the archives

2014 saw some more heartbreak for Hong Kong, who were trying to win promotion to the top flight - despite comfortably beating Italy in the group stage, they went out to them in the semi-finals of the qualifying competition. Can this be the year they do it? We'll find out in a few days.

The main event was another thriller, with an electric New Zealand side winning their 11th title, 26-7 over England. 

Right on cue, the heavens opened, making the Kiwis' rain-soaked haka the abiding image of the tournament.

What memories will we come away with from the 40th tournament? Not long to find out ... 

DON'T MISS: Part 7 of our look through the archives

Roll of Honour:

1976 Cantabrians (New Zealand) 24 - Wallaroos (Australia) 8 

1977 Fiji 28 - Marlborough (New Zealand) 18

1978 Fiji 14 - Manawatu (New Zealand) 10

1979 Australia 39 - Western Samoa 3 

1980 Fiji 12 - Scottish Co-optimists 8

1981 Barbarians 12 - Australia 10

1982 Australia 18 - Scottish Border 14 

1983 Australia 14 - Fiji 4

1984 Fiji 26 - New Zealand 0

1985 Australia 24 - Public School Wanderers 10

1986 New Zealand 32 French Barbarians 12

1987 New Zealand 12 Fiji 6

1988 Australia 13 New Zealand 12

1989 New Zealand 22 Australia 10

1990 Fiji 22 New Zealand 10

1991 Fiji 18 New Zealand 14 

1992 Fiji 22 New Zealand 6

1993 Western Samoa 14 Fiji 12

1994 New Zealand 32 Australia 30

1995 New Zealand 35 Fiji 17

1996 New Zealand 19 Fiji 17

1997 Fiji 24 South Africa 15 (World Cup)

1998 Fiji 28 Samoa 19

1999 Fiji 21 New Zealand 12

2000 New Zealand 31 Fiji 5 

2001 New Zealand 29 Fiji 5

2002 England 33 Fiji 20

2003 England 22 New Zealand 17

2004 England 22 Argentina 12

2005 Fiji 29 New Zealand 19 (World Cup)

2006 England 26 Fiji 24

2007 Samoa 27 Fiji 22

2008 New Zealand 26 South Africa 12

2009 Fiji 26 South Africa 24

2010 Samoa 24 New Zealand 21

2011 New Zealand 29 England 17

2012 Fiji 38 New Zealand 25

2013 Fiji 26 Wales 19

2014 New Zealand 26 England 7

2015 ??? 

Don't forget to enter here if you see yourself or a friend in our eight-part photo series.