28 Jan 2017

Buzz builds at Wellington Sevens

4:28 pm on 28 January 2017

Wellington's rugby sevens tournament kicked off with low numbers for the early games, but organisers say more people are turning up as the day progresses.

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Colourful crowd: "Best dressed - we've gotta be a shoo-in," said this group's leader, the butterfly. "It's taken us two hours to walk a kilometre." Photo: RNZ / Jacob McSweeny

New Zealand beat Samoa 33-7 in their opening pool game this afternoon, which was Samoa coach Sir Gordon Tietjens' first match against his former team.

Wellington Sevens general manager Steve Dunbar said he was happy with the attendance and the way the day had panned out so far.

"Lots of colour in here, lovely sunny day in Wellington here, so a really good start to the day.

"The crowd will keep coming in throughout the day, as lots of Wellingtonians are out playing their Saturday morning sport, but we're on track for a 15,000 crowd today."

There was already a buzz building in the stadium, with Fiji's supporters in particular making plenty of noise in the stands, he said.

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Fijians Luse Komaisavai, left, and Varani Komaisavai, right, predicted a final between Fiji and New Zealand. Photo: RNZ / Jacob McSweeny

As usual, many attendees have donned colourful costumes for the event. One group dressed up as a caterpillar, and another dressed up as Donald Trump and Mexico.

Other characters spotted on the street included fairies, rugby referees and girl guides.

The friends from the Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Hamilton in the 15m professionally-designed caterpillar costume were confident of their chances to win best-dressed.

"We've gotta be a shoo-in," said their leader, the butterfly. "It's taken us two hours to walk a kilometre."

'Fun police' blamed for lower numbers

Tickets to the two-day event are selling much slower than in their heyday, when they used to sell out within minutes.

Barry McFarlane, who was among the group dressed as girl guides, said the event had been ruined by what he called "fun police".

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Barry McFarlane, left, and his group of girl guides on their way to the stadium. Photo: RNZ / Jacob McSweeny

The event's organisers had tried to make it family-friendly at the expense of adults attending without children who just wanted to have fun, he said.

"The family thing is not the right thing. It is an adult thing, which they go along and have a lot of fun with," he said.

"The money they spend there is incredible for Wellington and all of a sudden that has all changed."

The stadium was less than half full on both days of the tournament last year.

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Keehan Knight and his friends said they thought their outfits were topical after the US election. Photo: RNZ / Jacob McSweeny

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