Spring in Hong Kong can only mean one thing: the Rubgy Sevens. An event so big that it is said it causes the weather to shift! Sports fan or not, you can’t escape the mania that hits Hong Kong when the Sevens come to town.
Participating in this rugby extravaganza allows you too fully appreciate just how multicultural this city is. Each person in the crowd is so patriotic about their home country! It can be a tense situation for those bi-cultural families — where do the kids’ loyalties lie? (With the team that ends up winning, of course!)
Fun, wild and maybe even considered “epic”, the Sevens are not to be missed (at least experienced once!)… but the crowds and craziness can be a bit overwhelming. Here, we break down the basics to navigating and enjoying this experience with your kids.
Friday: The matches kick off early Friday morning when the mini-rugby teams play on the pitch in the big stadium for a taste of what it’s like to compete in a huge venue. And, naturally, it helps that the kids get to skip school that day for their ten-minutes of fame!
A marching band and dragon kick off the real matches Friday afternoon and get progressively more intense as the evening wears on (read: the good teams play later). If you don’t know anything about rugby, it’s a safe bet to cheer for Fiji, New Zealand, England, South Africa and Samoa. But there are always spoilers that make it more fun.
Saturday: The action reboots Saturday morning with another mini-rugby tournament. All of the fancy-dress-fans start arriving bright-and-early — not to watch the mini-rugby but to secure the best spots in the South stands. There is a concert at midday on Saturday and any mini-rugby players in full kit can walk onto the field with their respective teams for the annual “march-past”.
Sunday: More of the same — but for the serious fans, Sunday is the big day with the finals in the evening.
- Nip out at lunch for a brisk ten-minute walk to Times Square to have a real meal. You can only eat so much greasy, fried food. While Pizza Express may not qualify as particularly healthy, it always hits the spot.
- Pack healthy snacks. The kids will eat so much junk food they will actually ask you for carrots.
- Come prepared with sunscreen, rain ponchos and jumpers — sometimes you can experience all weather extremes in one day!
- Let the craziness be a teachable moment for your kids. Explain to them what happens when you drink irresponsibly. They will definitely see some staggering around towards the later part of the day!
- If the kids have had their fill of fried chicken and rugby, send them home and carry on!
- Wait in the taxi queue if you need to leave. Outside of the stadium, taxis will try to scam you and charge set prices for distances. $300 to Stanley? No thank you!
- Uber is also your friend. Prices will be more than double the usual fares but you can get home in comfort. It may be easier to meet the Uber driver somewhere nearby the stadium to avoid the traffic snarls directly in front of the stadium.
- Either go all-out in fancy dress in the South stands or get your home country on with patriotic gear. There is flag face-painting for the kids and adults inside the stadium. If you jump up and down, you may get on the jumbotron. Just be careful who you are sitting next to when the kiss-camera comes around!
- It is one of the moments when you appreciate how safe Hong Kong is — the kids can have some freedom to walk around the stadium and meet up with friends. But, it’s a good idea to set a meeting place and/or write your section number on their arm.
- Enjoy the fact that is one of the only times in your life that you will see the line for the men’s restroom twice as long as the women’s restroom!
- Score a spot at the meet-and-greet corner to get autographs from your favourite team. Bring your Sharpie!
- Buy a ticket for any kids over two years old (but if they’re on the small side you might be able to get away without!)
- Head to the upper deck for a bird’s eye view where it is quieter and an alcohol-free-zone.
- Arrive early — it’s open seating. Bring an old jumper or two to save a seat for a friend until they arrive!
- Make friends in high places — score an invitation to a corporate box for free food and drink.
- There is a strict no “hard-plastic” water bottles rule in the stadium. Sadly, this means you end up spending a small fortune on water! The bag searchers generally look the other way at single-use soft plastic water bottles (which you can refill).
- Big umbrellas, selfie sticks, helmets, rugby balls are also no-nos.
- Make sure not to lose your tickets as you need them to re-enter!
- Don’t try to sell your tickets for more than face value – that’s just uncool.
If you haven’t managed to secure tickets, the HSBC Sevens Village opposite the Hong Kong Stadium offers fun activities for everyone with a giant screen. But, there are always people selling tickets near the stadium if you’re really desperate to get inside!