Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hong Kong Sevens

As we inched towards Hong Kong Stadium in massive gridlock, Adam looked out at all fellow rugby fans with a huge smile on this face. “I can’t believe it already the sevens again!” he said excitedly. I agreed but for vastly different reasons. For me, it is just that time flies when all the kids are in school, swimming and scouts. For Adam, it was just that the anticipation of the sevens was over a tiny bit too early. But what an exciting anticipation it was!

Adam finished another fun year at Valley Fort rugby last week. He loved his coaches, he loved his fellow team mates, he loved running the ball and he especially loved learning how to tackle (in preparation for full tackle next year). He was awarded “Best and Fairest” by the coaches, which he think is a little like most improved. By the end of the season, Adam was scoring a try or two in every game and definitely understood that forward passes were not allowed. This was not the case last season. Anyway, all the kids on his team got participation trophies except for him and the “Best and Brightest” boy.” Adam and this boy were awarded their trophies by England’s national team, who also practiced with his team. It was all exciting except for the fact that the trophy he got was smaller than the participation trophy. The England players were a little surprised by the glum faces of the awardees but it was all too much to explain.

After England, Adam had breakfast with the American National Team at the American Club. Adam was thrilled to miss school, thrilled to eat a buffet breakfast and thrilled to win a rugby ball in the lucky draw. He also got busy collecting autographs from the players. One American player signed Adam’s recently shaved head. Another player very sweetly asked Phil’s permission before signing the seven year old’s head. After that it was a free for all on Adam’s head.

As was the case last year, Adam got to play in an exhibition match before the sevens and then march in a parade on the last day of the three day event. The girls were there too, watching the rugby and the fans. One part of the stadium is called the South Stands and it is adult only. We saw a girl dressed and painted all in blue. Tori, very informed, told me that she was an Aviatar girl and probably going to the south stands. Despite lots of crazed fans and lots of beer consumption, the sevens, like all of Hong Kong, is just plain safe. The kids would run down to get autographs and then run back up to us in the stands. Royce said she hated running through “smoke valley,” the designated outdoor smoking area, but she would do it to get the South Africa team’s signatures.

Adam backed off a little from his usual signature mania. He did take off his shirt and hang it over for the players to sign as they walked on and off the field (and yes this was captured on the big screen shown to the entire stadium). But he told me that he wanted to watch the rugby. We all focused on the England versus USA match and tried to cheer for America but could not. For one, they lost badly. Also, we knew the English team by name and had met them all. When New Zealand, Adam’s favorite team, beat England in the final, he wasn’t even that excited. He gave me the stats on the English players. After all these years in Hong Kong, our allegiances are a little confused but we can definitely agree on rugby. Some of the nicest moments came when our kids were cheering on Hong Kong’s National Team with all the little local school boys sitting around us.


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