Rugby event returns to pre-Covid popularity

The sold-out Hong Kong Sevens kicked off at the Hong Kong Stadium on Friday, marking the international rugby tournament’s return to pre-pandemic popularity.

The Hong Kong Sevens kicks off at the Hong Kong Stadium, in Causeway Bay, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The Sevens returned to Hong Kong after a two-year hiatus in November 2022 amid partial Covid curbs and limits on attendee numbers. The tournament was held again last March, with the stadium in Causeway Bay allowed at full capacity, after anti-epidemic regulations were fully lifted in the city.

Fans in colourful outfits at the Hong Kong Sevens, in Causeway Bay's Hong Kong Stadium, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP. Fans in colourful outfits at the Hong Kong Sevens, in Causeway Bay's Hong Kong Stadium, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
Fans in colourful outfits at the Hong Kong Sevens, in Causeway Bay’s Hong Kong Stadium, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

“This is a very special year for the tournament as we mark three decades inside the Hong Kong Stadium, and we are overwhelmed at the response of the fans to this milestone year and hopeful of recording our first full house since the pandemic,” Chris Brooke, chairman of Hong Kong China Rugby, said in a press release on Tuesday.

Hong Kong play against China (in red) in the  women’s Melrose Claymores tournament at the Hong Kong Stadium, in Causeway Bay, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP. Hong Kong play against China (in red) in the  women’s Melrose Claymores tournament at the Hong Kong Stadium, in Causeway Bay, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
Hong Kong play against China (in red) in the women’s Melrose Claymores tournament at the Hong Kong Stadium, in Causeway Bay, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

This year marks the final time the event will be held at the Hong Kong Stadium, which is set for redevelopment. From next year, the tournament will move to the Kai Tak Sports Park, which is set to open in 2025.

The crowd at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP. The crowd at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
The crowd at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The tournament comes amid a drive to draw tourists to Hong Kong and boost the city’s economy, and features performances from reggae pioneers The Wailers, Arnel Pineda of US rock band Journey, Cantopop girl group Lolly Talk, and Taiwanese cheerleaders the Rakuten Girls.

Team Hong Kong face off against China in the men's Melrose Claymores Competition, at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.Team Hong Kong face off against China in the men's Melrose Claymores Competition, at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
Team Hong Kong face off against China in the men’s Melrose Claymores Competition, at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Boos rang out across the stadium when the Hong Kong and China teams went head to head in the Melrose Claymores Competitions, with the fans’ allegiances lying clearly with the home side. In the women’s tournament, Hong Kong beat China 19 points to 12, while it was a similar story for Hong Kong’s men, who scored 19 points to China’s 17.

Rugby fans in fancy dress at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP. Rugby fans in fancy dress at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
Rugby fans in fancy dress at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
A fan of the US, at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP. A fan of the US, at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
A fan of the US, at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
The crowd at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP. The crowd at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
The crowd at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
A dragon dance at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 4, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP. A dragon dance at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 4, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
A dragon dance at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 4, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
Rugby fans at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP. Rugby fans at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
Rugby fans at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
Fans at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP. Fans at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
Fans at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
Someone carries pints of beer through the crowd at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP. Someone carries pints of beer through the crowd at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
Someone carries pints of beer through the crowd at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
Evening falls at the final Hong Kong Sevens to be held at the Hong Kong Stadium in Causeway Bay, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP. Evening falls at the final Hong Kong Sevens to be held at the Hong Kong Stadium in Causeway Bay, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
Evening falls at the final Hong Kong Sevens to be held at the Hong Kong Stadium in Causeway Bay, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
Team Hong Kong play China in the men's Melrose Claymores Competition, at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.Team Hong Kong play China in the men's Melrose Claymores Competition, at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
Team Hong Kong play China in the men’s Melrose Claymores Competition, at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
A rugby fan at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP. A rugby fan at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
A rugby fan at the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
France play Canada on the first day of the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP. France play Canada on the first day of the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
France play Canada on the first day of the Hong Kong Sevens, on April 5, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Words: Mercedes Hutton

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