Today, the 34th running of the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is upon us. The tournament is the jewel in the crown of the world sevens series because of its lively reputation and the history of top players who have graced its stage in the past.
Conceived as a promotional event for a tobacco company, the tournament has grown in stature since its inception in 1976 and is now held at the 40,000-seater Hong Kong Stadium.
Fiji have classically been the darlings of the tournament with 11 wins, 5 of which came in the ‘90s when a man by the name of Waisale Serevi dominated the competition.
Other stars to have graced the event include Jonah Lomu, Christian Cullen, George Gregan, Brent Russell and Mathew Tait.
England have the best record at the event in recent times, with all four of their tournament wins occurring since 2002.
Unfortunately for England, their form this season has been poor – they are seventh in this year’s standings with no tournament wins. Form dictates that New Zealand should walk it, as they have done for the first four tournaments of the eight-tournament series.
However Hong Kong’s atmosphere can do strange things to galvanise a team. With all the party-goers roaring in their fancy dress in the south stand a team can lose concentration and find themselves down a try or two in a minute.
Coverage of the sevens on prime time media is criminally lacking but however you manage to catch the matches, you will be treated to one of the greatest spectacles in world rugby.
Here on The Rugby Blog, we’ll bring you some clips of the action over the weekend, and for now, here is a preview video with some behind the scenes footage of the England side preparing for their first game.