I've been going to the Hong Kong Sevens for many years now. I missed one when Cardiff were progressing through the Heineken Cup but I'm normally there. Working with Les Hales of CIO Connect during the days before and/or after and then from Friday night to Sunday watching Rugby from a box near the half way line trying to restrain my drinking. From a business point of view this was one of the best visits and have demonstrated the value of patience! More on that as some of the projects emerge.
I love the evening view over the stadium, it's a unique place nestling beneath greenery and skyscrapers. It's also the event in Hong Kong and one of the only Sevens events for which the tickets are always sold out. Now I always go more in hope than expectation as far as Wales go. Fiji, New Zealand, England and a lot of emerging nations have professional Seven's teams. In Wales we use it as development for younger players and I support that. It has produced some of the best 15 a side players in world rugby (as the English found out the previous weekend). That means that every year we have new players and competence progresses as the season wears on only to start again the next year. We've never won a sevens series tournament but we did win the World Cup four years ago, against all the odds.
This year was different with Wales topping their group and then moving through fairly easy quarter final and semi final victories to the final. There we faced Fiji and the expectation was of a massacre but it was very different. The team tackled players on average a foot higher, three stones heavier and faster to boot with the net result that we went into half time 19-0 up. They came back in the second half and won, but it was a close run thing. However we should have won, a little more confidence would have done it in the final two minutes, when Fiji finally drew level. But critically in the first half one our players was subject to a pretty savage spear tackle. Now in the main World Cup our captain performed one of those more or less by accident and got a red card, net result we lost. Here it was only a yellow card, net result we lost. We need consistency here.
Whatever it was a great weekend and our defending that World Cup in Moscow in a few months time starts to look realistic. The company was great, the food absorbed the alcohol and the atmosphere was incredible. The panorama below is during the anthems in the final and a 3D version can be seen through the link.