Helping you stay alive since last week. By Natasha Stokes, with photos by Graham Uden and HKRFU
Rugby. Some call it a nation-defining sport for the hulking peoples of Australia, New Zealand, England and Fiji. Others maintain it’s a state of mind, attained only through determined beer-drinking and shouting. But what it is, really, is a minefield of potential hazards. That’s why we’ve provided this handbook to help you get through Rugby 7s weekend and back to your office Monday morning all in one piece.
Click below to enlarge scan of article originally published in HK Magazine, or scroll down for text-only version:
Ack, there’s a bunch of big people throwing their balls around!
Stay calm. You’re at the Hong Kong Stadium, one of the most verdant areas of man-made vegetation in the world. Rugby is the sport native to this area, but fret not, the local populace is not famed for abstract thinking, and the game itself hinges on a reassuringly simple concept: The aim is to get the ball across the line defended by the opposing team (such an endeavor is worthy of five points and is called a “try,” possibly because you have to “try” quite hard to get it done.) Tries lead to possible “conversions” (two extra points if the ball is subsequently put between the goalposts.)
An interesting sociological quirk is that natives will only hurl the ball to those loping behind them. Even more interestingly, this “behind” bit is monitored by a separate creature indigenous to the region, the common referee. Note: should such an animal give you any trouble, merely throw some $500 bills at its snout to easily compromise its vision.
Oh thank God, there are only seven of these creatures! Wait… Why?
Rugby Seven-ites travel in packs of seven and are identified by a thick, large quadricep femoris and an inordinately fast gait. Compared to their close cousins – the Rugby Fifteen-ites – Seven-ites run substantially faster because they defend the same sized territory as a pack twice their size. Accordingly, pack mentality is more “charge-‘em” than “strategize-to-win-‘em.” Coat patterns range from striped primary colors, to stripey muted tones to, more rarely, pure black (as seen in sub-species the New Zealand All-Blacks).
Afraid of being charged? Avoiding the gaze of these testosterone-fueled hunks o’ human is a surefire way to prevent aggression. Remember, the only thing to fear is fear itself.
I think I’ve got the hang of things. I’d like to observe this “rugby” you speak of. But why are all the times so precise on this schedule? For example, Canada is challenging China at 11:14am on Saturday.
That’s because each skirmish is limited to precisely 14 minutes. The Cup final for ultimate supremacy is a whole 20 minutes. During the tournament, there will be 57 games and precisely 1,385 minutes of tournament time. Imagine if anything was to be late. Why, the local space-time continuum would be under threat. In such circumstances, this handbook folds out into a handy inflatable raft. Just pull tab A to B (overleaf).
But why are the games precisely 14 minutes long?
Well, it all started with Romulus and Remus. After they were done with Rome, having built it in a single day, they thought, “what else can we make in an inordinately short time?” Rugby Sevens.
It’s 7pm on game day. What should I do?
The plain quiets down after sunset. By the time darkness falls, the bulk of the active natives will have retired from competition, while the spectator natives will be bloated and immobile from a full day’s worth of carousing and feeding. Prepare for nightfall by scavenging for food and drink (details below). The local food web is dominated by top predators like the Rugbius captainus and Homo obesius fan, forcing smaller carnivores (that’s you) to abandon hunting-gathering for foraging.
Is there some kind of breeding ground?
See box, “An Interesting Locale”.
- FOOD & WATER
I only have $500. What can that get me?
An entire day’s sustenance, in fact. The Hong Kong Stadium is remarkably advanced when it comes to trading edibles for bits of paper and metal, with roughly 2L of beer setting you back a whole $170. Other tasty treats include deep-fried goodness from KFC, semi-healthiness from Mes Amis, and good old McDonald’s.
It’s really sunny out. How can I keep hydrated?
Out in these wilds, keeping hydrated is less important than keeping nice and inebriated. Wake your liver up by imbibing a steady stream of alcoholic beverages. Luckily, you won’t have to resort to distilling your own booze out of raccoon urine, as Heineken and Pimm’s pitchers sprout rampant around here.
But couldn’t alcohol, a diuretic, compound with the sun and heat to dehydrate me?
What the hell is Pimm’s?
You really mean “Pimm’s No. 1,” a strangely delectable alcoholic beverage product owned by Diaego, the world’s largest multinational beer, wine and spirits company. It’s gin-based, tea-colored and tastes vaguely of spice and citrus. Naturally, the precise recipe, particularly the blend of spices, is a jealously guarded secret.
Here’s an approximate one:
• 1 measure gin
• 1 measure red vermouth
• 1⁄2 measure triple sec
• 1 twist lemon peel
• 1 twist cucumber peel
• Few sprigs mint
• Just mix, twirl, swirl and go. Pour on ice, for added chilly effect.
DANGER! Flying jugs…
Can clip a mean chunk out of your booze-addled head. Watch out for both the plastic and silicon varieties.
I’m under 18. What should I drink?
If memory serves, you’ll already be passed out by the South Stand bathroom, a near-empty jug of Pimm’s by your flaccid, snoring body.
Otherwise, target the fruit juices, sodas, tea and coffee available at all concession stands and from the flocks of short-skirted, be-lycra’d waitresses fluttering about the area. Avoid strangers with candy.
Fauna & Flora
Why are there so many strangely dressed people around?
Don’t worry about them; they’re just tourists.
No, not the ones in culottes. What about that guy in a clown suit or those practically nude women?
No one knows, but it’s theorized to be a primitive form of courtship.
Are rampant in most areas. Equipped with the ability to speckle vomit onto everything in a 10-meter radius, these highly volatile creatures travel in packs and inspire wonderment that you were ever, ever, even just slightly like them.
I think I’m being followed. What to do?
With all the spilled beer, piss and condensed humidity, would-be stalkers can easily follow your footprints. Cover them by scuttling forth in one direction, then backwards, being sure to step exactly in the prints you’ve already made. Now take off your shoes and run off in the opposite direction!
Note: in extreme situations, such as when you’ve been mistaken for a tasty morsel of rugby player bait, consider burning off your footprints. You can barter for a lighter with any drunken fool.
I’m a pervert. Does the Rugby 7s offer anything for me to stare at?
A veritable cornucopia. Observe.
I don’t trust you. I want a random chump off the street to tell me what he thinks of the Sevens.
Benson: “Last year I made the mistake of sitting in the middle of 50 pale-skinned Englishmen while I was wearing an ‘I Love Sydney’ T-shirt and heckling the English team. My advice: wear an old T-shirt and shorts. It’s hot. There will be beer thrown. Adapt. And have a big hearty breakfast before coming in, because come 11am when the first beer hits, you’ll need something to soak it up. Preferably not milk though. Milk and beer are a curdling nightmare. When you think you’re drunk, switch to Pimm’s. It has the illusion of not being alcoholic and you can drink a lot of it, while making frequent runs for buckets of KFC. What else? Well, on Sunday, don’t go early. The rank smell of day-old beer festering in the sun will destroy any power your stomach had at holding food down. If you don’t remember Sunday, it was fun.”
DANGER! Strange hats…
Can mark an outsider by their very absence. Blend in by constructing your own odd headwear out of brightly colored fun fur. No needle and thread? Ball up the fur and tie it to your head. Hey, you’re invisible!
Oh God, it’s Monday. I can walk if I hang on to the pavement, but I keep puking on my own face. How can I make it through work?
Behold, seven tips to get over a monumental hangover:
Mild exercise: Walking or stretching can get more oxygen flowing through your brain and cardiovascular system, and they say the turnaround is amazing, but you’ll have to decide for yourself if it’s worth having to get up.
Don’t eat too much: The more you eat, the more you’ll puke up. Don’t eat citrus because the high acidity is bad for a stomach that’s been swirling in bile since yesterday.
Sleep: Not really possible but try it anyway. Maybe tell your boss you’re researching on behalf of a client.
Water: Well, why not? You usually drink water right? If not, now’s a good time to start.
Stop smoking: Less oxygen in the bloodstream, less chance of cancer and so forth. Preaching to the choir, we would hope.
Stay out of the sun: You don’t need a hangover cure to tell you that. Ugh, healthy, life-giving sunshine.
Drink more: Guess why you’re puking. It’s not because you drank too much. No, it’s because you’re not drinking enough. Yes, right this very second, go pour yourself a stiff one because you’re actually in withdrawal. Maybe try a Bloody Mary; it’s full of nutritious, body-sustaining alcohol and even a sprinkle of vitamins.