It was, as you can imagine, the most wonderful carnage at the sevens
We all know about the fancy dress and the power of the South Stand. We all know the event is a magnet for star names from rugby’s past and present. We all know that this is the jewel in the sevens crown. But the tournament itself always throws up some cracking stories.
So with the 2019 instalment of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in the books, here are ten cool things from the 2019 Hong Kong Sevens (and yes, it would have been better had we cut this to seven cool things, but there was just so much going on!)
Fiji win fifth Hong Kong title in a row
Fiji and the Hong Kong Sevens go together like beer and burgers. The Fiji fans always go down a treat in Hong Kong and the players always bring their A-game. To win this famous tournament five years running is simply incredible.
The Islanders defeated France in the final showdown, eventually taking the tie 21-7. Aminiasi Tuimaba was named player of the final. It is their third series win in this vital season – the top four sides automatically qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Rivals show support for NZ
The reasons for it are harrowing, but the ways rivals rallied to pay respects to New Zealand were cool.
The New Zealand sevens team were the first sports side from New Zealand to play a competitive game since the atrocities in Christchurch in March that left 50 dead and 50 injured.
To mark this, they wore white jerseys with black armbands.
After their opener, Australia marked the occasion by forming a huddle with the Kiwi team.
Fiji also made a presentation to the New Zealand side.
The posts lit up!
How about a bit of innovation? Check out the below.
Okay, the principle itself may not be super-futuristic, but sometimes the best ideas are simple. How do you quickly show fans on the other side of the stadium that a hard-to-track conversion or penalty has been successful? Light up the posts!
Ireland and Brazil become core sides
First Brazil women won their qualifier final to become a core team on the Sevens World Series next season. Then Ireland men won their final to ensure their place on next season’s elite circuit.
Brazil women – who last played as a core team in the 2016-17 season – defeated Scotland in their final. Ireland men had to silence the home crowd as they bested Hong Kong in their final
And how about this for an aside – Irish try-scorer Greg O’Shea has some Hong Kong heritage, as his grandfather emigrated to Limerick from Hong Kong in the Fifties.
Chabal’s singing goes down a storm
You may have read our story yesterday about Sebastien Chabal singing to the South Stand. But even if you had, it’s worth checking out this video that was played on the big screens all weekend.
Go on – sing along with Seabass!
You can use less plastic
This year the Hong Kong Rugby Union introduced their Green Sevens initiative, with punters encouraged to use less plastic and grab one of the reusable pint cups on offer throughout the stadium. The scheme was heralded as a big success. It comes hot o0n the heels of other initiatives to reduce waste and make the sevens more sustainable.
The Beast helped out Zimbabwe sevens
Much has been made about the struggles of Zimbabwean rugby, and there were stories of crowd-funding efforts to help the African team raise money for logistics, food and, it turns out, footwear.
According to the country’s Sports Minister Kirsty Coventry, Springboks icon Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira helped out with the cause.
Fair play to the big man.
Tongans sing for Hong Kong native set for heart surgery
Jonathan Mo, 23, had hopes of enjoying a career in rugby, but now faces life-threatening heart surgery. When the Tongan team heard this tale, they invited Mo to training – where they huddled round him, sang for him and then took a collective knee prayed for him.
Not only that. They reserved a sevens ticket for Mo, where he joined the team on their bus to the stadium. Mo then spent the whole day with the Tongans, even walking with them during the traditional team parade.
The South Stand went bonkers for Queen
Fiji got to hear a Queen tribute band play We Are the Champions after the final. But all weekend the South Stand were Freddie Mercury-bonkers. On Saturday, with the party in full swing, there was a truly intense rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, with the entire stand joining in and several beer cups being launched into the air.
There were also a fair few Mercury costumes, with a pocket of the crowd wearing white vests that some estimate was numbering in the forties.
USA maintain lead of men’s series
The Eagles men still sit atop the World Series after their third-place finish in Hong Kong. They are seven points ahead of Fiji in the rankings with three legs left to play.
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The men’s series now moves on to Singapore.
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