25 Jan 2019

Hamilton swells with Sevens crowd as tickets dwindle

7:23 pm on 25 January 2019

Hamilton is buzzing with an influx of visitors come to see the World Rugby Sevens at Waikato Stadium over the weekend.

The Rugby Sevens at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.

The crowd was first Hamilton Sevens last year. Photo: Photosport NZ

A near sell-out crowd will see 16 men's and four women's teams take to the field as Hamilton hosts its second Sevens tournament.

Most accommodation is fully booked and restaurants and bars are gearing up for a bumper weekend and on top of that the forecast is for warm and cloudy weather.

About 24,000 people are expected at the stadium. With 2000 or so tickets still available earlier today, fans were queuing at ticket outlets including one in Garden Place in the centre of town excited about the prospect of a fun weekend.

Alister Clarke from Hamilton said he loved all the costumes and the atmosphere.

"People having fun, particularly young people. All having a good old time and great to watch - and the rugby too."

. Day 2, HSBC Sevens, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand. Sunday, 4 February, 2018.

The crowd at last year's Hamilton Sevens. Photo: Photosport / John Cowpland

Annette Randall from Whanganui said it was the atmosphere and fun and everything about the tournament which brought her to Hamilton.

"Love coming up here and being in the mix," she said.

Her husband Phil said he loved all the different countries taking part and the number of matches.

"I always support New Zealand, first, of course."

Hamilton Sevens 2018

The All Blacks Sevens at last year's tournament. Photo: Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

It's not just New Zealanders keen to be a part of the action: Griff Renouf from England is joining a Hamilton mate for the tournament.

"Just kind of relax, watch the matches and have a nice weekend in the sun."

He and his friend James Morgan planned to dress up as Captain America and Thor.

Fans and supporters.
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamiton, New Zealand. Day 1, Saturday 3 February 2018. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

Costumes are a common sight at the Sevens. Photo: Photosport / Andrew Cornaga

James claims he represented a young Chris Hemsworth as Thor, while Griff said he was Chris Evans.

Felipe Yannis is from Chile and while his country is not represented in the tournament, he was hoping it will be in a few years time as the game was starting to take off there.

It will be the first time he has been to a sevens tournament.

"We think it is a very nice show to go to and experience."

Felipe is going to support Fiji but did not rule out backing New Zealand.

"Ah, maybe two."

Teams from Tonga, Fiji and Samoa are taking part in the tournament and it is a fair bet their supporters will bring the house down.

One Pacific Island supporter in Garden Place picked Tonga all the way, while his friend thought Fiji would win again.

Both for some reason are going a long with a group all dressed as Freddie Mercury.

And while dressing up is not mandatory, it is expected.

Kim Owen works at Davids Emporium in Hamilton, which is one of the places to go to get a costume.

"We've got 80's disco, Hawaiian shirts, hats, leis, Mexican Sombreros and over 300 different types of costumes, five different wigs, full-on toga packs and much more."

Fans. Day 2, HSBC New Zealand Rugby Sevens, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand. Sunday, 4 February, 2018. Copyright photo: John Cowpland / www.photosport.nz

It can be a challenge making sure you haven't screwed the pooch with your costume. Photo: Photosport Ltd / John Cowpland

Dallas Fisher, the man entrusted with overseeing the smooth running of the event, said the Hamilton Sevens was bigger this year with more teams and more spectators expected.

"I guess second time round you sort of know what is happening. The teams have been here four or five days earlier training and there has been a lot of community engagement.

"The town is starting to fill up but it is still calm."

Mr Fisher said last year about $3 million of new money came into the region because of the Sevens.

He said it was possible the hosting rights will be shared in the next few years.

Hamilton's two year contract ends this weekend and a decision from World Rugby on the New Zealand venue for next year is expected soon.

Mr Fisher was quietly confident that Hamilton will remain in the mix.

"There is a plan where the host city may alternate from year to year and a decision is likely within two months."

Mr Fisher said he had definitely not booked a holiday for this time next year.

The World Rugby Sevens kicks off at Waikato Stadium at 10am tomorrow morning.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs