Tour Diary: Why every rugby fan must experience the Hong Kong Sevens

By Sam Ryan

Generally speaking, there are only two types of rugby fans around the world. 

Those that have never been to the Hong Kong Sevens and those planning their next trip. 

After spending a few days in one of the world’s most beautiful, unique and exhilarating cities, I’ve quickly jumped from one camp to the other and now understand why fans return time and time again to Hong Kong.

After a short and comfortable flight with our mates at Cathay Pacific - around nine hours from Australia’s east coast - I arrived in Hong Kong late on Thursday afternoon and took a taxi to Causeway Bay, a busy but super convenient area on Hong Kong Island with lots of great hotels. 

After checking in to the Park Lane Hong Kong, I quickly jumped in another taxi to race down and catch the last few hours of the Hong Kong 10s tournament. 

While everything on Hong Kong Island is walkable and the public transport - particularly the MTR - is fantastic, taxis are also super cheap and cost just HKD 27 (around $5) for the first two kilometres. 

As I was short on time, I jumped in a cab and arrived at Hong Kong Football Club within a few minutes. The Football Club has an incredible history dating back to 1886 and is located inside Happy Valley Racecourse, smack bang in the centre of the city. 

As a first timer to Hong Kong, an afternoon at the HKFC was a fantastic introduction to the local rugby culture, driven by expats from all around the world and embraced by many, many locals. 

The Hong Kong 10s is an invitational tournament featuring some of the best invitational rugby sides in the world. It’s not your average social comp though, these guys and girls can seriously play. 

Australia’s Pig Athletic Club Barbarians, a side featuring a heap of classy Shute Shield and Hospital Cup players, beat the Nemani Nadolo led Ashbury Tropics in the men’s semi final but missed a kick on full time in the decider. 

After a few hours of rugby, I returned to the Park Lane and headed straight up to SKYE Roofbar & Dining for dinner, a few drinks and one of the best views in Hong Kong, particularly as the city lights take over the skyline. 

The rooftop bar was pumping with friends, old and new, catching up and caving to first night fever. Fortunately, though, the Park Lane and Causeway Bay are only a few minutes walk from Wan Chai, Hong Kong’s legendary nightlife district which is packed with bars and excitement. 


There were plenty of sore heads at breakfast on Friday morning. 

But for those that behaved themselves, Friday presented an opportunity to explore greater Hong Kong. 

Roughly 50% of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people live outside of the city and I spent the morning visiting Sai Kung, a beautiful fishing village about a 30 minute and $35 taxi from Hong Kong Island. 

Sai Kung is full of markets and restaurants and fills up over the weekend with families escaping the hustle and bustle of the city. From there, you can visit the seafood markets or take a ferry to one of the many surrounding islands. 

For the golfers, it’s also the departure point for Kai Sau Chai, home to Hong Kong’s only public golf courses. 

The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau features three 18-hole courses on a picturesque island only accessible by a short ferry trip. It’s not overly cheap, but looks spectacular and must be one of the most unique golfing experiences around. 

After heading back to Hong Kong Island, it was a short walk and on to the rugby. 

From the moment you walk out the front door, the atmosphere is electric with rugby fans of all ages and from all corners of the world filling the streets. 

Inside the stadium, the action and the party never stops and while Saturday is the wildest of the three days, people are dressed up in either costumes or their national colours all weekend. 

The event will move to a new stadium next year on the shoreline of Kowloon Bay and local officials and tournament organisers are confident public transport options, including the MTR and ferries across the beautiful Victoria Harbour, will be plentiful. 

While some tradition will be lost in the move, the bigger stadium, expected to seat 50,000 fans and feature a retractable roof, will arguably add to the atmosphere of the event. 

After watching Australia perform well in both the men’s and women’s divisions, most fans headed back into town; either to eat at one of the many fantastic Cantonese restaurants, or to a bar filled with excited rugby fans in Wan Chai. 

On Friday night, I took a 10-minute MTR ride to Temple Street Night Markets and got a taste of what a more tame Friday night might look like in Hong Kong. 

Filled with locals, the Aussie Sevens girls told me Temple Street is their favourite destination in Hong Kong for both food and shopping (excluding Joe Bananas on Sunday night, but we’ll get to that). 

Aside from Temple Street, the old town in Central on Hong Kong Island is also filled with bars, restaurants and shops

A lot of the older buildings have been repurposed in recent years allowing locals, expats and tourists alike to eat and drink in former jail cells (Tai Kwun) or shop the latest fashion from local designers in converted former Police Married Quarters (PMQ)


Saturday is party day at the Hong Kong Sevens but before heading into the stadium, I took the Peak Tram from Central to the Skye Terrace 428 for a 360-degree view of Hong Kong. The tram takes you up the mountain at a 45-degree angle and it sure beats walking.  

I was surprised to learn that over 70% of Hong Kong is Country Parks and that hiking trails, only a few minutes from the city, are abundant and beautiful. 

After some sightseeing and a delicious casual lunch at Mak’s Noodles it was on to the stadium for what must be the biggest and best party in world sport. 

While most rugby fans have heard plenty about the party in the South Stand throughout the Hong Kong Sevens, the rest of the stadium certainly hold their own. 

Rugby fans of all ages are dressed up and spend the day singing, dancing and making friends with others from all corners of the globe. 

The atmosphere is infectious and more so than anything, friendly. Even in the rowdier areas of the South Stand, there isn’t a sniff of trouble.

Kids and older rugby fans can also move freely around the stadium and soak up the atmosphere. There’s a seat for everyone at this brilliantly organised event. 

Saturday ends with a snooze in the South Stand for some while others venture into Wan Chai, but  without a doubt, it’s up there with the best sporting experiences around. For those that have been, it’s Oktoberfest around a rugby tournament. It’d be hard to find an event more fun. 


Sunday starts slow for most during the Hong Kong Sevens.  

But when you do rise, there’s no better or more traditional way to build up for finals day in Hong Kong than with an early Yum Cha lunch and few do it better than Nanhai No.2, a rooftop restaurant packed with locals in Causeway Bay. 

I enjoyed an eight-course fine dining set menu and it was up there with one of the best meals I’ve had. 

The pick of the dishes was the honey glazed char siu, the sautéed tender beef with goose liver and the sautéed chopped iberico puro black pork with lettuce cups. 

After that, it was on to finals day with Australia set to play New Zealand in both the men’s and women’s semifinals. The crowd grows again for Sunday and by lunchtime the atmosphere was back to its best. 

The Australian sides both fell just short against the Kiwis but there was still plenty of great rugby to enjoy throughout the day. 

The crowd went wild when our girls scored after the full-time siren to beat France in the third-place playoff match and it was fantastic to see both squads spend at least an hour on the ground after their final games signing autographs and taking photos with young rugby fans from all around the world. 

While neither squad got the results they wanted on Sunday, they won over plenty of hearts and minds who will be cheering them on in the lead up to and during the Paris Olympics later this year. 

Following the gold medal matches, both won by an island to the southeast of us, the party continues on to Wan Chai. 

And while some fans have had more than enough by that point, things are only just starting for all the players, coaches and officials who pretty much all end up at Joe Bananas in Wan Chai or a nearby bar. 

If New York is the city that doesn’t sleep, Hong Kong is the city that gets up and goes again and again and again. The stamina of some seasoned tourists is nothing less than miraculous.


After four brilliant days in Hong Kong, it was time to fly home on Monday morning, which gave me just enough time to start planning my next trip. 

The Hong Kong Sevens is a must for rugby fans of all ages and it can be done in so many different ways.  

While the tournament will move to a new stadium next year and some tradition will be lost, Hong Kong won’t change.  

It’s back to its vibrant best and ready to welcome tourists from all around the world, particularly Australia. 

When you’re ready to book your trip, make sure you check out the Discover Hong Kong website and keep an eye out for flight and hotel packages from our mates at Cathay Pacific when they become available later this year. 

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