Finding Its Feet
The second instalment of the NZ Sevens in Hamilton is done for the year and it is definitely finding its feet. I've posted several times about the Sevens in the past and I definitely do miss Wellington. It was a great thing to be involved in such a cool event right on my doorstep. And what happened to it in later years broke my heart a little.
But I enjoyed it in Hamilton in the first year. The tournament definitely had a different feeling to Wellington and this has bedded in more this year. I felt that I was getting the vibe of the tournament now as it will continue.
And one of the big things, which I touched on last time, is that it has become a truly Pacific event. The Fijian presence there was enormous and, at many times, this felt like a Fijian home event. There's some good things about that. Pacific Rugby gets the short end of the stick a lot when it comes to handing out events. Even though their national team is always a drawcared. And the other Pacific nations get even less. Economics play a big part of this. But economics allow for a tournament in New Zealand and this does make the Sevens somewhat accessible to certain Pacific Fans. Talking to them, they seemed to certainly think it was better than nothing. And for some of the Fiji Indian fans this was better than that. They had come over from Fiji to catch the Indian Cricket team and the Sevens. For many it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and they treated it like one.
This was an attitude that was missing in Wellington towards the end and will always be missing for Kiwi fans. But this summer, for many of the fijians I met, was like their Lions Tour. And that contributed to a great atmosphere.
The results didn't go our way but I enjoyed my second helping of Hamilton Sevens. There was a great vibe - the team I get to work with is excellent, as always, and there is a real sense that this is an event that is as wild and carnival as Wellington but has a really intense and excited fan base that are there to watch rugby and enjoy an occasion that is truly special.