The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens

Liam experiences a taste of local sporting culture.

When I walked in to Hong Kong Stadium for the first time, I thought I was walking in to the Quidditch World Cup. The way the sides of the stadium arch over the field, the jungle and skyline behind the south stands, the music, the costumes and innumerable languages being spoken all lent a fantastical element to the three-day event. Sure, there were no brooms, no quaffles and no snitch, but the incredibly fast-paced and skilled game being played on the massive stretch of green turf below made the heart race nonetheless.

For those not familiar with the sport, rugby sevens is just rugby played with seven players on each side instead of the 15 found in the more common version of the sport. But the field is the same size and this allows for a lot of wide-open plays and tonnes of scoring. With games clocking in at only around 15 minutes, the pace of the tournament is unmatched.

I don’t really know much about rugby but when I got to Hong Kong I was told that the Rugby Sevens tournament is a must-see. The biggest sporting event in the city, the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is one of the most highly anticipated legs of the international tour. This is due to the passion for the sport in Hong Kong, but also to the incredible atmosphere. A unique experience for anyone—sports fan or not—the tournament is a great representation of Hong Kong’s incredible social atmosphere and blending of cultures.

Many of the people I encountered were there not only for the rugby, but also for the atmosphere and the party. The infamous south stands—for which I waited three hours in line to get into—is a smorgasbord of costumes and cultures. From Minions to Captain America to Mario and Luigi, there was no shortage creativity. I also had the chance to meet many Hong Kong locals and expats of every kind, some of whom were young rugby players hoping to make a name for themselves on the field at next year’s tournament.

This experience sticks out as one of my favourites so far from my time in Hong Kong, not only because of its cultural uniqueness but also because it was something I did on my own. Solo experiences abroad can be some of the best because you get to do what you want to do. And sometimes you have to put yourself out there. When I walked into that stadium I knew no one there and knew very little about the sport. After a full day I walked out with friends from around the world after a party of a lifetime. This is what happens in Hong Kong.

So if you’re sad that Quidditch isn’t real, book a ticket to Hong Kong and get to the Sevens. I can guarantee you it’s something you’ll never forget.

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Liam O'Donovan

Liam O'Donovan is 24-year-old marketing grad from Edmonton, now living and interning in Hong Kong. He has an unhealthy obsession with fantasy sports and a budding love for craft beer. Get a load of Hong Kong through Liam’s posts!

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