I have been to five Hong Kong Sevens tournaments and, as far as Sevens spectacles go, I have pretty much seen it in action.
This season the International Rugby Board (IRB) added a new tournament (Tokyo, Japan) while there were also two venue changes. Of the latter, last weekend’s Nelson Mandela Bay SA Sevens (viewed through my biased eye!) was possibly the most exciting. Both in terms of the on-pitch action, as well as the atmosphere generated in the stands, something that I have no doubt the Gold Coast will also develop next time around.
The rugby dished up in Port Elizabeth was of the highest quality and in my humble opinion, that was the best Cup Final between eventual victors New Zealand and the home-side that I have seen in a long time. If you consider that most of the teams in action had been on the road for around three weeks, one can only doff your proverbial hat at the athletic display on offer to the fans.
And didn’t the Port Elizabeth fans enjoy it!
I watched the SA Sevens from Hong Kong and I could literally feel their delight whenever the Blitzbokke arrived pitch-side or ran onto the field. When Cecil Afrika produced his expected magic, the crowd roared with delight and I got goosebumps on this side of the world.
The television audience probably didn’t see it (and this is where social media comes into play) but as teams finished their final matches, they went up to the stands to shake hands with the fans and pose for a picture or ten. That, for me, is as much part of the Sevens allure as your team winning some silverware.
Of course there were glitches and the organisers will have made copious notes. Come 2012 we can only look forward to an even bigger spectacle.
Derrick Spies worked behind the scenes of the PE tournament and thankfully took is camera with him. He generously allowed me to share some of his images with our readers. Like I always do, Derrick not also took photos of the players and the fans, but also gives us a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes goings-on, especially those oft-forgotten workhorses: the media.
See you in 2012, Port Elizabeth…
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The Aggreko cheerleaders
Bokkie doing his thing
I set some of the images to music: Ode to the fans
Ode to the media
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