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Hong Kong ... the mecca of international sevens rugby.

As with every year, this weekends 2010 Hong Kong 7s tournament is the most eagerly awaited tournament on the IRB World Sevens Series and for Fiji rugby fans a nail-biter because we will be running on to the So Kon Po pitch as defending champions.

The Hong Kong tournament draws the biggest crowds on the annual sevens circuit with people flocking from all over the globe not only to watch fast paced rugby but to have a bash and keep themselves entertained over three days.

The event is the closest thing Hong Kong has to a carnival. This weekend is expected to draw full houses of 40,000 spectators every day.

A long weekend of what could be called binge drinking is diplomatically described as "letting off steam" in the workaholic former British colony.

The highlight of the Hong Kong sporting calendar dates back to 1976 when eight international teams took part in the inaugural competition.

Friday evening is something of a warm-up, both on and off the field. By Saturday lunchtime, the South Stand, where the more vociferous partiers congregate, is already rocking. Spectators polish off jugs of lager while the seeded teams dispatch the minnows.

In contrast to the raucous scenes in the bleachers, behavior in the executive boxes high above the playing surface is restrained.

For all the high spirits (thirsty punters get through more than half a million pints of beer and enough Pimms to sink the Star Ferry), the weekend is largely trouble free.

The banter gets a little close to the knuckle in the South Stand, but there were only three arrests during the 2008 tournament and none at all last year.

When the Saturday matches are over, the crowd heads towards Causeway Bay and Wanchai. Bars with giant screens show reruns of the games.

Sevens weekend is the most lucrative of the year for the hospitality trade, and publicans tread a fine line with over-exuberant revelers.

The following quotes from the sums up the excitement and the expectations of the business operators in Hong Kong.

"I've never kicked a fan out of here," says Jonny Porteous, manager of the White Stag in Wanchai. "I've picked quite a few up off the floor though." According to the former Middlesex resident, not all his Sevens customers bother to go home.

"One Saturday evening some years back, a guy came in for a pint and ended up staying all night to watch Six Nations matches beamed live from Europe. His wife, who'd gone home early, came and collected him in the morning. They had breakfast here, then headed back to the stadium,"...





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