Ode to joy: Hong Kong’s Sevens heaven
Hong Kong’s annual Rugby Sevens tournament has just ended, leaving bankers, executives and journalists nursing terrible hangovers and promising that next year will be different.
For those who have never attended the Sevens, it is fairly easy to describe. Imagine an overpriced bar with 40,000 people in it. Some are there for a Sunday lunch with the family. Others are there to hob-nob with clients or schmooze their bosses. And others still are there to get so drunk that they pass out on a blanket of half-eaten fried chicken while their friends (who are dressed as Mario and Luigi) use them as a prop in a series of humiliating selfies.
Such are the contradictions of the Sevens. It is undoubtedly the biggest party weekend in Hong Kong all year, attracting everyone from children bunking off school, to ageing Englishmen on a kind of geriatric lad’s holiday. It is everything you want it to be and never quite what you expect. It is an institution, an icon, a mad merger of athletic excellence and Bacchanalian indulgence.
The Sevens is that rarest of things: the chance to meet up with work colleagues, clients and contacts without any airs, without the sizing up of business cards or job titles, without one-upmanship or corporate waffle.
The weekend even has a kind of magic to it. On Sunday, the great and the good gathered in the stands, in the boxes and in the crowded corridors and formed into a collective consciousness, a giant hive mind. Through some primordial magnetism, 40,000 people became one, sharing a single thought in a single instant.
Unfortunately, that thought was: why were England so rubbish?