HKSEVENS – A Rugby Tournament? A Beer Festival? A Costume Party!

soldier girls

Lucy Hunt and Keira Mounding from the UK dressing up as soldier girls (photo taken by Lexie Ma Xiaochi)

Here’s a simple chemistry question for you. Mix a vial of costume creativity with a flask of rugby madness. Catalyze the reaction with two cups of alcoholic euphoria and what do you get? HKSEVENS, no doubt!

The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens took place from April 7th to April 9th this year at the Hong Kong Stadium near Causeway Bay, but what fun would a rugby tournament be if the partygoers didn’t get all Halloween-like with their costumes? Each year, rugby lovers fly into the city from all over the world to enjoy the streak of carnival craziness, and one thing they always pack with themselves are their playful, goofy or sometimes eccentric costumes. Well, your invitation just came in the mail, so who are you dressing up as this year?

pink australia

people watching the rugby games in matching costumes (photo taken by Lexie Ma Xiaochi)

Ever seen Tigger holding a cup of beer and talking to you all tipsy? That’s probably a bit age-inappropriate by Disney standards, but not by HKSEVENS ones! I stumbled across Deepen Nebhwani in his Tigger onesie near the South Stand and just had some trouble processing my childhood cutie against the backdrop of a beer-selling stall. “Well, I bought this costume for my Grade 12 Challenge Day,” recalled Nebhwani. “As a kid, I loved Disney!”

Nebhwani joined me in marvelling at how the costume he picked out in his secondary school years could still fit even till this day. Nebhwani came to watch HKSEVENS because he got his hands on a free ticket and he himself plays rugby for his college – the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Just before I sent him off to get more drinks with his friends, I popped the question as to why he wanted to dress up for the rugby games. “Because I love the Sevens,” exclaimed Nebhwani at the top of his lungs. I surely saw that coming!

tigger

Deepen Nebhwani from CUHK dressing up as Tigger and posing with his friend (photo taken by Lexie Ma Xiaochi)

Nehbwani was for certain not the only one who embraced the HKSEVENS spirit by way of his costumes. In fact, after taking a look around the stadium, I realized I was probably one of the rare people here who failed to “comply” with the proper dress code. I then spotted not one, but three guys wearing matching black hats, black eye masks and black capes trying to strike a synchronized cool pose in front of my camera phone. Okay, you know I had to ask. “The costume is Zorro,” explained Matt Battle, a UK native currently on a one-year Study Abroad program in Hong Kong. “Basically, I was informed that everyone has to wear a costume to the Sevens.”

Battle purchased his costume on Pottinger Street in Central, aka the Hong Kong costume market. It’s also locally known as the Stone Slabs Street where people usually shop for fairy wings, colorful wigs, feather boas, masquerade masks and party items of the sort. As I was blown away by how well foreign students like Battle had integrated themselves into Hong Kong’s local cultural terrain within such a short span of time, he also reminded me of the Englishness that runs in his veins. “Rugby is a huge thing in the UK,” said Battle. “And I’ll always root for the England team.”

zorro

Matt Battle from the UK dressing up as Zorro (photo taken by Lexie Ma Xiaochi)

Indeed, word on the street was that everyone would dress up for the occasion and by then I had given up distinguishing whether people were informed or misinformed. Pottinger Street is no doubt the go-to place for costume inspirations, but in today’s globalized and digitalized age, impressive outfits are no farther than a couple of clicks away. Andrew Baker, who used to live in Australia and is now residing in Singapore, had been coming to town specificially for the grand sports event for years now and he regarded it as an annual family tradition for him to bond with his son over rugby games.

Portraying himself as a comical version of the Grim Reaper, Baker shared with me that he actually got this costume at a bargain from Taobao, a prominent Chinese online shopping platform. Baker also travelled to Hong Kong with his collection of costumes enough for three days this time around. The Sevens takes place in Singapore annually as well, but Baker told me that people hardly dress up there and there’s just no comparison between the SGSEVENS vibes and the HKSEVENS ones. “Hong Kong is where the world comes to party!”

grim reaper

Andrew Baker from Australia dressing up as the Grim Reaper (photo taken by Lexie Ma Xiaochi)

Though rugby is traditionally an English sport, the Sevens in its origin country can barely compete with that in Hong Kong in terms of the scale. As commented by Lucy Hunt, who was visiting from London and was dressing up as a pair of solider girls with her friend, “it’s massive and it’s so much bigger”. According to their “research” and experience back in the UK, costume-wearing has already become a Sevens custom. However, some people just got too carried away by their characters.

A group of three “sheriffs” caught my eyes in their uniform costumes, which I later found out came from the magical Pottinger Street as well. As I approached them and sought to understand why they chose to dress up as highway patrol officers, I literally conducted the most difficult conversation in my entire life. Just kidding! At least they gave me their real names (I think?) in the end. The trio – Jay Govender, Rohan Baghdadis and Luke Savage – came from Australia and kept answering my questions in a funny manner, like “we are at the Sevens as officers on duty” and “these costumes were standard issue”. I guess I’d have to behave around these “officers” and wish for them to have fun working their shift!

sheriffs

Rohan Baghdadis and Luke Savage from Australia dressing up as sheriffs (photo taken by Lexie Ma Xiaochi)

HKSEVENS is never just about what’s happening on the rugby field. The cheering crowds in their variety of interesting costumes have already come to steal the spotlight! What’s unique about HKSEVENS is how it’s managed to transform an exclusive-sounding sports affair for professional players and rugby fanatics into a world-class carnival which welcomes all fun-seekers to gather and unleash their wild sides as well as creative genius through costumes. Want to view more photos on fascinating costumes at HKSEVENS? Please visit the official Shroffed Facebook page for the live coverage of the event!

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