Hong Kong Sevens Is The Hottest Ticket In Town

4 March 2015

Rugby sevens is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, taking a place at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and adding a new leg in Canada to its popular IRB Sevens World Series tour.

The recently-announced Vancouver leg of the global World Sevens tour will kick off in March 2016, leading in to rugby's return to the Summer Olympics – at least in its shortened version – for the first time since 1924.

It's that shortened version of the game that has made Hong Kong a rugby hotspot, with the Hong Kong Sevens now one of the most popular events on the global rugby calendar.

First played in 1976, the tournament has been generating raucous atmospheres inside the Hong Kong Stadium since moving there in 1982, with the three-day event now one of the most popular things to do in Hong Kong.

 Hong Kong Stadium packed with Sevens fans. (AFP)

World-Class Rugby

What was once a series of low-key friendlies is now a multimillion dollar money-spinner, with the 2015 edition of the Hong Kong Sevens set to attract 28 national teams from across the globe.

Not only will they be competing for the title of Hong Kong Sevens champions, there's also the added incentive of Olympic qualification – with the top four finishers on the World Sevens tour guaranteeing themselves a spot at the 2016 Games.

Reigning champion New Zealand will fancy its chances of defending a Hong Kong Sevens title won in a hard-fought 26-7 victory over England in the final last year, with the All Blacks Sevens eventually finishing top of the 2013-14 standings.

Australia will hope to improve on its record after failing to win a tournament last year, with South Africa and fan favourites Fiji joining the Kiwis in sweeping all before them in a dominant 2013-14 campaign.

Fun-Filled Festivities

Last year's trend looks set to continue, with Fiji and South Africa having already recorded two wins on this season's circuit, while New Zealand ran out winners at the Wellington Sevens on home soil.

Yet, for many spectators, it's the fun in the stands that counts as much as the rugby – and that's especially the case in Hong Kong.

With the stadium hemmed in by the pubs and clubs of Causeway Bay and nearby Happy Valley Racecourse conjuring plenty of merry memories for punters, it's no surprise the Hong Kong Sevens conjures a party vibe in the stands.

Many attendees choose to dress up – with pirate costumes, colonial-era regalia and enough animal outfits to fill a zoo among the popular choices for the thousands of revellers who pack the stands each year.

Momentous Occasion

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Hong Kong Sevens and there'll be plenty of special celebrations – including a performance from disco legends The Village People – to mark the occasion.

There's also plenty of off-field action, with numerous long-standing Wanchai establishments packed with revellers before and after the three days of action.

Further afield, the boutique stores and big-name brands of Causeway Bay offer a compelling reason for savvy shoppers to pencil in the trip, with the Hong Kong Sevens offering something for sports lovers and bargain hunters alike.

Indeed, with the tournament regarded by many sevens regulars to be the most enjoyable leg on the tour, the only question to ask yourself is: why haven't you booked already?

Hong Kong Sevens 2015 takes place from March 27-29.

Mike Tuckerman

From Europe to Asia and many places in between, there's rarely a town or city I've not enjoyed exploring. When I'm not wandering the streets and discovering new destinations, you can usually find me hanging out with the locals at major sporting events.