03 April 2007

Wild Weekend of Rugby

Among other things...

The Hong Kong Sevens Rugby weekend ended Sunday evening and oh what a weekend it was. The festivites kicked off Friday night and went non-stop until Sunday. It is still unknown how many casualties we (Typhoons) had along the way. I'm glad to say I made it through the weekend un-harmed, and un-fired (more on that later).

I made my way to the stadium late Friday as I had to work, and arrived around 7pm. The fun was just getting started. There was only a small line-up to get into the mayhem that is the 'South Stand,' so I was glad to get into the party zone. You had to be 18 or above to enter the South end of the stadium. This zone puts the Bomber student section to shame. The main thing that stuck out first was all the costumes. I had seen pictures, but some of the things people were wearing were quite shocking. Take the Penguins as an example. It had to be at least 30 degrees in the stands, and these guys wore big thick black penguin costumes. I don't know how they lasted the whole weekend, they must have sweat off at least 30 pounds. Everyone kept well hydrated throughout the tournament, it was common to see fans walking up and down the stairs with 4 jugs of beer at a time.

On Saturday I slept in slightly/was sick/you get the idea. Not only did I miss work in the morning, I also missed a good chunk of the morning games. Oh well, the serious games were on Sunday anyway. Saturday was a very different day in contrast to Friday. Because of the popularity of the South stand, it was full at 11am. I did not get in. Most of my teamates also did not get in, so we actually had to sit and watch rugby. There was a no-alcohol policy in the stands for the rest of the stadium. If you wanted to drink, you had to go under the stands. The stands were pretty empty for some strange reason. So I got to see quite a bit of rugby Saturday, I watched Canada get blown out by Samoa. There were 24 countries in all, but only about 3 had a chance at winning the thing. Fiji, New Zealand, and Samoa were the most impressive. Saturday night was relatively quiet, I decided not to go out as I was a little tired from Friday, and wanted to save my energy for a crazy day on Sunday.

Sunday - We got into the South stands! Mai also came on Sunday, as she didn't want to go to all 3 days. The bad news is that we had to leave at 8am in order to get in on time. The stadium wasn't very full by the time we got there, but a small line to get into the South Stand was forming. It only took a few minutes to get in, so my frustrations from Saturday were gone, as a fun day of partying and sun awaited. Sunday was knockout day in the tournament. Based on where the teams finished the round robin, they were in 1 of 3 competitions. There was the Plate, Bowl, and Cup Finals. The Cup finals were for the best teams. Canada was in the middle level, but we lost our first game against Portugal, by one point! Oh well, they looked hung over and slow so they did well to put up a fight. A few more games past, the beer started to make its way heavily into the stands. It was noon. Mai had seen enough rugby, Japan played as well early on. She decided to go home. Thanks for coming, you didn't look too too bored!

The rest of Sunday was pretty awesome. The rugby was very intense as the semi-finals approached. Fiji vs. New Zealand in the semis for the Cup Final was an absolute thriller. Both teams were extremely fast, and punches were flying from the beginning. Fiji went up a try with only a few minutes left, and looked good for the win. The Kiwis almost pulled out an amazing comeback with a crazy last minute attempt at a try, but were stopped short, the crowd going nuts. Everone said it was the game of the tournament. The Cup Final was almost as good.

The finals featured Samoa vs. Fiji. It still amazes me how fast these guys are. It's insane. Everyone was stunned to see Samoa go out to an early lead 27-0. It made no sense, it was like Fiji lost its will in the match against the Kiwis. After the first half, the score was still 27-0, and it looked like a snoozer. We were all wrong. Fiji put up try after try after try, to make it close at 27-22. It was a complete reversal of the first half. Samoa couldn't do a thing to stop the onslaught. Had Fiji made all extra points, they would be winning by this point. With only seconds left, Fiji had to score or they would lose. The stands were shaking. It was incredible. Fiji made one amazing play to get close to their goal line, but were stopped short, and Samoa kicked it out of bounds to end the game. Wow, great game!

With the final whistle, came the realization that it was now time to go crazy in the South. A half dozen drunks decided to rush the field, some thought it would be a good idea to run over a cop, stupid idea. It was funny to watch, but I think they will regret it later. There were some fireworks, some awards, but mainly everyone just wanted to drink and drink and drink until we got kicked out of the stadium. It really was a pathetic effort on behalf of the HK police attempting to crowd control. The majority of fans were large white drunk rugby men. The majority of HK police are small sober terrified little Chinese men. You guess who won that battle. After a while the crowd came to its senses and dispersed. What a great night!

Update: Pictures here.

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