Instead of 15 players per team playing 40-minute halves, rugby sevens involves seven-a-side rugby in seven-minute halves. Each game consists of 2 halves with a one-minute break in between. The exception is the final, which is 20 minutes long instead of 14. The aim is to get the ball across a line being defended by the opposing team.
The first ever tournament was held on March 28, 1976, and was hosted by the Hong Kong Football Club. 12 teams participated and 3,000 people attended. Since then, what started as a series of friendly games to promote the sport in Asia is now a first-class sporting event with 120,000 spectators, generating over HK$300 million in revenue.
Everyone knows the Sevens and debauchery go hand-in-hand. Expect the Wan Chai district outside the stadium to be a carnival of game stalls and outdoor food markets. Meanwhile, bars and restaurants around town will be holding festive alcoholic specials in the week leading up the tournament.
It’s just part of tradition by now, especially amongst the inhabitants of the notorious South Stand, known for its alcohol-fuelled raucousness. (Hint: Families may want to keep to the East and West stands!)
They’re the most successful Hong Kong Sevens team in history, followed by New Zealand, who have won 11 times.
The actual rugby games are preceded by a week-long party called Rugby Week, including a star-studded kick-off concert. In 2016, it was hosted by David Hasselhoff and headlined by Scottish rock band The Proclaimers. Another big draw is the opening ceremony on day one of the games, featuring traditional dragon dances and kung fu demonstrations.
Unsurprisingly, tickets to the Hong Kong Sevens are sold out every year. Only 9,000 tickets are allotted the Hong Kong public and get snapped up months in advance, while the other 37,000 are distributed by rugby clubs, ticket agents, teams and sponsors. In the run-up to the event, many tickets will be resold online at sky-high prices, as well as on the day outside the stadium (but be prepared to pay an arm and a leg). If you’re abroad, you might be able to snag a package tour from a travel agent, especially if you live in the UK or Australia.
Hong Kong Stadium, 55 Eastern Hospital Rd, So Kon Po, Hongkong , +852 2895 7926