The action in the Hong Kong Sevens got under way on Friday, with the women's teams taking centre stage in the early action.
It's the first time in the tournament's 45-year history that both men's and women's competitions have taken place simultaneously and the women were up first, with France defeating Japan 38-7 in the opening game.
Amid drizzle at the Hong Kong Stadium, there were early wins for the United States, Fiji, Australia and Great Britain.
Hong Kong's women couldn't possibly have faced a tougher start. They took on the mighty New Zealand, going down 50-0, with a hat-trick of tries from Stacey Waaka doing much of the damage.
Hong Kong's Julia Mba Oyana said despite the loss, the experience was a dream come true for her.
"It was so surreal – running out there with the home crowd cheering for me, I was so excited, so grateful to have the opportunity, and I can't wait for more to come," she told reporters.
Hong Kong co-captain Melody Li said it's a great opportunity to learn from a top team like New Zealand, and she hopes the team can improve in the ruck and in the attacking areas in the coming games.
Li's sister, Sara, was cheering from the stands. She said she designed a t-shirt especially for the occasion.
"I'm very proud of the Hong Kong girls team, they practice so hard, even for competitions in other countries," she told RTHK.
The SAR's women came a little closer in their second game against New Zealand in the evening. They went 10-0 down to the Canadians before Agnes Tse hit back with a try. However two late Canadian tries gave them a 22-5 victory. Their last group game is against Great Britain on Saturday morning.
The men's tournament began in the afternoon, with New Zealand, South Africa, Fiji and Argentina coming out on top in their first-round matches. Hong Kong's game against France will round out the day.
Friday evening also sees the tournament opening ceremony, featuring Cantopop singer Joyce Cheng. Although crowds were slow to build on Friday, some 32,000 tickets have been sold for the three-day competition.
Speaking on RTHK's Moneytalk programme on Friday, Hong Kong Rugby Union chief executive Robbie McRobbie said about 20 percent of the public ticket sales had gone from fans overseas.
He said this year's competition wasn't just about getting overseas fans, adding: "It's also about getting the event back in the consciousness of the overseas tourists.
"Next year is going to be very sigificant for us. It should be the last one in the old stadium before we move to Kai Tak. So this time, we're hoping it will jog people's memories as to just what a good event Hong Kong is."
Last updated: 2023-03-31 HKT 18:15