Team USA Eagle 7s star, Matthew “Polar Bear” Hawkins, who is also now working with Serevi, contributes weekly every Thursday on Rugby Wrap Up – technology permitting.
A couple hours away from the kick off of probably the biggest stop on the HSBC Sevens World Series. Wellington plays host to this stop and is undoubtedly a city built for rugby and a party of this magnitude. Wellington’s city center runs itself to the shores of the ocean where the North Island ends. It’s a city that literally shuts down the day before the event and plays host to an amazing parade that runs through the city center and allows fans to get up close and personal with their favorite teams and players.
Everyone funnels in to an amphitheater at the end of the winding twisting trail of the parade where you are greeted by a huge crowd and some dignitaries. One year we had a very memorable experience where they had set up a dodge ball court in the middle of this madness and teams were able to challenge each other to a round of dodge ball. We were all itching to have a piece of the action, but I think there was a slight hesitation from our management staff. But no problem, enter Kenya. They decided they wanted to have a go at us and we were more than happy to oblige.
Wellington has just so many elements that make it the event not-to-be missed throughout the year. It basically enforces a very strict fancy dress party and is closely monitored by the fun police. People stream in to the stadium, fondly known as the cake tin. Once inside, it is all about who can party the hardest and the longest. The first day definitely kicks off rather early and if you took a freeze frame of the action, it would look like there was a DJ rocking the party of a lifetime, and some blokes decided to set off a little game of rugger all in the middle of it.
The crowd definitely lifts each side, but they are in no way afraid to show there disdain for certain teams. I unfortunately have to miss this years event and it has definitely been something that has not been taken lightly. Team USA kicks off this morning against our Saffa friends and its the 3rd time we will be facing them this year – and I do believe it is our time. Second up is our friend Mat Turner (right) and his team from England. They have also been a staple on our itinerary this year and it should an absolute humdinger.
Last but certainly not least, are the cook islanders – Fiji & Samoa – and they really could produce champagne rugby if the elements allow.
Enjoy the great weekend of rugby ahead – their will also be the Six Nations rugby kicking off and I will be reporting live in the thick of things from Vegas next week.