The month of April is famous for many things: April Fools’, Children’s Day, Easter, World Health Day ... But perhaps the most talked about April event in Hong Kong is the Rugby Sevens, the annual sporting extravaganza.
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We appreciate that not everybody likes (or even understands) the sport. We know that the crowds of tourists who descend on Hong Kong Island for this three-day fest means traffic jams, queues at restaurants, and a whole lot more rubbish around Causeway Bay.
But the Sevens is an event that we, as Hongkongers, can all be proud of. They bring elite athletes to the city, and often these men and women are only too happy to share their experience and tips for aspiring players.
This year, for example, the Samoa and Tonga squads raised awareness with the Hong Kong Shark Foundation; the Hong Kong and Fiji squads trained together in Sha Tin; and for many years, the Scots headed to King George V for a kick-about with students.
The games are also proof of our status as a "world city". Many of the 40,000 spectators come from overseas, and stay for a holiday. The fact that people keep coming back for more is surely testament to just how cool our hometown is.
Sports for all
The event is also a reminder of the importance of sport. Sport represents a microcosm of society. There are different groups of people, with different outlooks and approaches to life. Team members have to work together to achieve success; different players have different but equally crucial roles; and like citizens, if players do not abide by the rules, they will be punished.
Watching a sporting event, and supporting a team, creates an air of camaraderie and a feeling of pride, bringing people together.
What's more, rugby sevens is a sport everyone can play and support - while the main competition is for the men's teams, women, teens and children play, too.
Even bigger, even better
This year is the biggest Hong Kong Sevens yet, with 28 men’s teams, 12 of which will battle it out to qualify for the next HSBC Sevens World Series, and for the first time, the city will host the women’s World Series qualifiers semi-finals and final. This means there are plenty more games packed into three days of total rugby.
In fact, this year promises to be even more entertaining, with limited adverts and more music for the fans to bounce along to.
There will be bags of entertainment on stage from Hong Kong and international groups, and a performance by colourful rock 'n' rollers, Madness.
By the time you're reading this, the Hong Kong Sevens will have just kicked off, and the guys and gals representing the city will be buckling down to their final fine-tuning before their games on Friday afternoon.
This year features some of the best teams in the world, like South Africa, England, Fiji, and New Zealand, with the latter two matching up early in the pool games! Hong Kong is in a qualifying pool filled with rising teams: Chile, Sri Lanka, and Namibia. Let’s see if they can come up with some magic at home.
Hong Kong had a disappointing sevens campaign last year. But, with a new coach at the helm, there's every reason they could repeat their 2010 success, where they won the Shield. After all, whether or not you care about sport, it's hard for any Hongkonger to deny their love for the 852.