By: Melissa Stevens
The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens is one of the biggest sporting events in the region – and one of the biggest parties on the city’s annual calendar! It attracts some of the world’s greatest rugby players and thousands of fans from every corner of the globe. The three-day tournament takes place at Hong Kong Stadium at Causeway Bay, and features top teams playing lightning-fast, 15-minute matches. Here’s our quick guide to the fun
#1 Rugby Sevens involves seven-a-side teams playing in seven-minute halves. Each game has two halves with a one-minute break in between. The final, however, is 20 minutes, instead of 14.
#2 The first Hong Kong Sevens was held in 1976 and featured just 12 teams in front of 3,000 fans. Hong Kong Rugby Football Union Chairman and Sevens co-creator A.D.C. “Tokkie” Smith described it as “the most colourful day of sport that I’ve ever seen. One that put Hong Kong on the international sporting map.” Now, it sees 28 teams playing in front of a total of 120,000 spectators.
#3 The Sevens made history in 1987 when it was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest international rugby tournament. In 2017, it was certified as the world’s largest mini rugby festival by Guinness.
#4 Sevens was played for the first time in Hong Kong Stadium in 1993, however the stadium was little more than a concrete shell as it wasn’t finished. Fans were given cushions to sit on as the seats hadn’t been installed!
#5 The first Hong Kong Sevens in the post-colonial era in 1998 was celebrated by the inclusion of a team from the People’s Republic of China.
#6 Rugby Sevens was granted Olympic status by the International Olympic Committee in 2009.
#7 2015 marked the 40th anniversary of the Sevens in Hong Kong.
#8 Tickets are highly sought-after, selling out almost immediately. Local fans in Hong Kong have to go through a ballot the previous year, which is always oversubscribed.
#9 The Sevens gives a big boost to the local economy with the average tourist spending about HK$13,000 during their time here.
#10 Fiji is the most successful Sevens team, having won the championship 16 times, followed by New Zealand with 11 wins.
This year’s Hong Kong Sevens is on from 6 to 8 April | hksevens.com
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This article first appeared in the April/May 2018 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.