The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) is kicking off an expanded calendar of fan engagement activities to share the excitement and entertainment of the upcoming Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens (7-9 April) with the entire community.
This year, Hongkongers and international visitors will have more opportunities to try rugby, meet the stars of the Sevens and enjoy all of the music, food and drink that has made the Hong Kong Sevens the world’s greatest rugby party, than ever before.
One of the main places to be in the build-up to kick-off will be the HKSEVENS Central party at Chater Garden. After its successful introduction in 2016, this year’s HKSEVENS Central festival has been expanded to a full week of activities, from Monday to Sunday, 3-9 April.
“Last year’s festivities in Chater Garden attracted thousands and we are excited to be expanding this successful concept in 2017,” said Sam Pinder, Head of the Hong Kong Sevens for the HKRU.
“This week-long party is one of many initiatives designed to share the Sevens with the whole community. We want people all over Hong Kong – and around the world, to feel part of this globally renowned event, and to enjoy it just like those inside the Stadium,” Pinder added.
In keeping with the atmosphere of the Sevens, world-class rugby and plenty of music and food and beverage will be the hallmarks of HKSEVENS Central.
Chater Garden will once again be transformed into a mini Hong Kong Stadium, with a purpose-built rugby pitch, rugby skills games and competitions and official merchandise booths.
Visitors will have a chance to rub shoulders with past and present stars of the global game with a team of HKRU rugby ambassadors including Waisale Serevi, Ben Gollings, Jean de Villiers, Justin Harrison, Gareth Thomas and New Zealand Black Fern and Olympic sevens silver medallist Huriana Manuel all joining the party.
An expanded programme of autograph sessions featuring the participating teams will also be staged, enabling local and visiting fans to wish their favourite players luck ahead of kick-off.
After kick-off, Chater Garden promises to be the best place outside of So Kon Po to watch the action with a ‘Sevens in the City’ viewing party featuring continuous real-time coverage from the Stadium on giant screens accompanied by live rugby commentary.
Much more than meat pies
Food and beverage is a primary focus of this festival of all things Sevens, with celebrity chefs helming three pop-up restaurants at Chater Garden as they re-interpret classic rugby fare to keep the energy levels high with a dash of style.
Rugby and fine dining aficionados will be in Sevens heaven with a chance to enjoy private chef’s table dinners alongside 14 of their closest friends. The dinners will be hosted by rugby legends and bon vivants David Campese and Andrew Mehrtens amongst others.
Ruck and roll at Chater Garden
The HKRU will have people rocking with a diverse line-up of live music nightly from 6.00pm. The concerts will be interspersed with Q&A sessions featuring HKRU rugby ambassadors and other international athletes. The evenings will be hosted by emcee Jed Thian of Alternative Rugby Commentary fame.
On Thursday, 6 April, the Sevens will pay special tribute to its roots with musical performances from top local artists RubberBand and Hanjin Tan taking centre stage for the evening at HKSEVENS Central in Chater Garden.
Community Rugby at the heart of the Sevens
Community rugby is at the heart of everything the HKRU does and Chater Garden will be no exception.
A rolling maul of community rugby activities will be staged daily, including clinics and demonstrations for members of the HKRU’s thriving 8,000-strong registered youth and mini rugby community as well as those new to the game.
On Tuesday, 4 April, the good works of the Hong Kong Rugby Union Community Foundation (HKRUCF), which promotes sport as a medium for development with a focus on health, disability, education and youth crime prevention, will be showcased. The HKRUCF has donated over HK$8 million to a myriad of programmes and causes in recent years.
Tuesday’s programme will include demonstrations of Deaf Rugby (10.00am-11.00am), Inclusive Rugby for Special Needs Students with Kowloon Rugby Club and HandsOn Hong Kong (11.00am-12.00pm).
Special guests will include former South African captain Jean de Villiers, representing the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, and former GB Wheelchair Rugby captain and triple Paralympian Andy Barrow.
Serevi, Gollings and other stars will run the clinics throughout the week alongside the HKRU’s specialist coaches.
A full event schedule including further details of the rugby ambassadors, participating bands and celebrity chefs and private dining opportunities at HKSEVENS Central will be released later this month.
The expanded engagement at Chater Garden comes on the back of the HKRU’s earlier announcement that UK music legends Madness and From the Jam will highlight the HKSEVENS Kick-off Concert on Thursday, 6 April, as part of the world famous HKSEVENS Rugby Week.
The coming weeks will see more announcements of major new fan engagement exercises in Causeway Bay, as well as a comprehensive new dining and entertainment initiative in the build-up to the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017.