HONG KONG (AP) — Late March sees the arrival of the annual Rugby Sevens competition in the special Chinese administrative region of Hong Kong, when the city's international community gathers for a wild weekend of brutal competition on the pitch and high-spirited partying in the stands. The three-day tournament unfolds in the heart of the former British colony, where it has reigned for the past three decades as the city's biggest, best-known and most boisterous sporting event.
Many fans from the 28 nations and territories taking part in the tournament turn out in national dress, while others attend in a variety of fanciful outfits that this year included Catholic clerical garb in honor of the new pope, South Sea themes, pirates, fairy godmothers and risque school uniforms. Cross-dressing is a perennial favorite as inhibitions are lowered considerably among the usually straight-laced titans of business and finance in attendance. Eating and drinking to excess is the order of the day, with the party continuing well into the evening, courtesy of the many corporate sponsors.
Now in its 36th year, the tournament has also been important to the popularization of rugby in Asia, while the slimmed down seven-man format offers a chance for developing players to show off their skills.