The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens From humble beginnings to a highlight in the World Rugby Calendar

12 December, 2018

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1976  - The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens tournament is born. 3000 curious rugby fans turn up at the Hong Kong Football Club in Happy Valley. Entrance is free for the one-day event. Teams include Indonesia, South Korea, Tonga, Japan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Fiji, the Wallaroos and the Cantabrians. The Cantabrians win the cup.

 

1980 – Torrential monsoon rains flood the pitch. Players become so muddy that referees cannot tell teams apart and ball boys are up to their hips in water. Despite the weather, games do not stop and 9000 spectators show up. A dominant Fiji team wins the cup.

 

1982 – The tournament becomes so popular that it is moved to the Government Stadium in So Kon Po, Causeway Bay.  Capacity is now 28,000 spectators. Australia beat the Scottish Border Club 18-14.

 

1983 – Australian Sevens star David Campese makes his first appearance in Hong Kong

 

1993 – The Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club decide to rebuild the stadium however it is not ready in time for the tournament. The Sevens goes ahead regardless. Spectators are given foam cushions to sit on atop the seatless concrete slab stands. 33,000 rugby fans attend. Some bring portable BBQs to use in the stands. Samoa beat Fiji to become champions for the first time in Hong Kong.

 

1997 – The Hong Kong Stadium hosts the IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens Tournament. Capacity is now at 44,000. Fiji emerge as champions with Sevens legend Waisale Serevi as their captain.

 

2001 - Ricky Cheuk Ming-yin becomes the first local Chinese player to score a try in the tournament. 

 

2002 – England win the cup for the first time.

 

2003 – 30,000 hardy rugby fans turn up on Sunday to watch the games despite the threat of SARS.

 

2004 – The entire stadium sing Happy Birthday to 18-year-old Hong Kong Rugby legend Rowan Varty.

 

2005 – Hong Kong hosts a second IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens Tournament. Fiji win again, with Serevi (now 35) leading the team once more.

 

2007 –The South Stand becomes strictly prohibited to under 18 year olds because of its notoriously provocative atmosphere. Heartbroken highschoolers make multiple attempts to get in.

 

2008 and 2010 – The Hong Kong Stadium hosts the Bledisloe Cup, becoming the first nation other than Australia or New Zealand to host the match. New Zealand win 19 -14 in 2008, while in 2010, Australia’s James O’Connor crosses the line in the 79th minute and converts his own try to deny New Zealand victory and win 26-24.

 

2013 – The British & Irish Lions Tour of Australia stop off in Hong Kong to face the Barbarians. Lions win 59-8.

 

World Rugby make significant changes to the format of the tournament – the competition is divided into two parts: The main draw, consisting of the 15 core teams plus the winner of the most recent HSBC Asian Sevens Series; and the World Series Pre-Qualifier, made up of the remaining 12 teams. The winner of the WSPQ advances into the World Series Qualifiers at the London Sevens. Hong Kong take the top spot but fall to Spain in London.

 

2014 – The World Series Pre-Qualifier becomes a straight qualifying tournament into the World Series.

 

New Zealand win the cup and do the Haka in the pouring rain (Swoon!)

 

2018 – Fiji win for the fourth year in a row, defeating a strong Kenyan side who make the finals for the first time.

 

Hong Kong is recognized as the highlight event on the World Sevens Series for both the rugby and its premier party atmosphere!