Hong Kong's men's and women's teams made it to six defeats in as many matches on Saturday afternoon amid somewhat gloomy weather in the SAR, but there was little doubt that the city has been the overall winner at the first Hong Kong Sevens event to be staged without Covid restrictions since 2019.
Masses of fans poured into the Hong Kong Stadium for the second day of the flagship event, traditionally the biggest day of the tournament, with many – particularly those populating the legendary South Stand – showing up in quirky fancy dress outfits ranging from the basic (Hawaiian shirts, cowboy attire) to the artfully imaginative (mahjong tiles and a giant squid).
One local fan supporting the Hong Kong team, Bonnie Li, explained her decision to dress as Woody from Toy Story: "I just wanted to dress up as something that's eye-catching."
Sporting a kangaroo costume, Tim Bowler was among those who gave away their sporting allegiances in their choice of outfit. The Australian also told RTHK that a Sevens without Covid restrictions was "a lot better".
Some others were first-timers to the flagship event – including Edward Kibira from Kenya. "It's awesome. The crowd seems to be building up," he said. "I love the atmosphere and I love the games."
RTHK also spoke to a number of young fans in the crowd who play rugby themselves. "We're really excited to be here today," one young man, Charlie McDonald, told us. "Hong Kong to win... or Australia!"
"I'm really hoping Hong Kong can make it to the 2024 Olympics in France," he added.
Meanwhile, Seb Brien – a scorer of tries for the Hong Kong men's team against France and Great Britain – spoke to RTHK about what it meant for him and his team-mates to play at home in front of such an exuberant crowd.
"There is absolutely nothing better than hearing the crowd cheer for you," he said. "If you need caffeine to get up for the games here, you're doing the wrong thing. Just coming out of the tunnel and hearing the kids screaming and cheering is an absolute buzz."