Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sevens Weekend

Any description of this event would pale in comparison to the experience itself, but nonetheless, I'll give it a shot.

Imagine a rugby tournament between a myriad of countries worldwide. Imagine that it tours the world over, each time with a new struggle, and a new champion. Imagine it coming to Wellington, New Zealand, selling out a 34, 000-seat stadium in twenty minutes flat.

Needless to say, it's a big event. Not only does it consume a whole weekend, it consumes the whole town. The normally-quiet, normally-sane Wellington becomes filled past the bursting point with visitors. They come from all over the country, and all over the world, all sharing one common goal -- to have a wildly fun time.

While this wildly fun time does involve the serious enjoyment of a lot of rugby, the rugby takes a backseat to the main attraction -- the costumes. The costumes themselves are incredible. Groups going together co-ordinate creative costume themes, usually planned well in advance. The result is giant groups of Smurfs, toga-ites, Marilyns, Martians, anthropomorphized yogurt containers, Borats, Oompa-Loompas and Hooter girls (of both genders). Some groups get even crazier, and I've seen everything from mail-order brides, to naked chefs, to guys in large cardboard boxes with two circular cutouts calling themselves mammogram machines... the list goes on and on.

The sheer scale is more impressive still. Thirty-four thousand people attend the Sevens, and at LEAST 85% of them dress up. It's actually regarded as weird when people AREN'T in costume.

Naturally, I fully embraced the spirit of such an event and took the opportunity to dress up. The stadium happens to be right next to my work, so it made the most sense for me to get into costume there. I got a couple of weird looks, to be sure, but at least it cleared up all doubt of what team I was backing! ;-) Dave was in theme too, and I painted his face accordingly.

Our Canadian attire did get us a fair bit of attention, particularly from other Canadian ex-pats. I was even run down by a pair of young ladies who urgently asked, `Have you ever heard of Boissevain?!` I replied that I had, it`s in Manitoba! They were so happy to have met someone in the southern hemisphere who knew of their hometown that they bought me a beer. Woohoo!

Another neat Canada moment was our match against Australia. New Zealanders, particularly with respect to rugby, have a rabid blood-oath hell-bent destruction-fixation against their western neighbour. No matter who Oz plays, they are met in Wellington with boos, heckles, and unwavering support of the opposing team, regardless of who they are. It could be a team composed entirely of clones of George W Bush, and they would still be cheered for in favour of Oz. Canada was the recipient of such crowd favour during this match, and the result was our team`s solid victory. Perhaps also their only victory, but as long as we beat Oz, we were celebrities to the Kiwis. There`s nothing like sitting amid 34, 000 people in a distant, foreign country, and having every single voice there cheering wildly and chanting, `CA-NA-DA!! CA-NA-DA!!!` It was magical.

So, hopefully the above description has prepared you for the pictures... be warned, some (particularly the Borat) are not for the faint of heart!

I also took some video of walking around, which is a positively surreal experience. I`ll update this page once I figure out how to upload it.


Speaka said...

Awesome pics! Brings back great memories.

wayne said...

This is a crazy place! (sometime). You can see the FUN oozing from the great pictures. You sure have got a handle on that camera. I'm sure "tourism NZ" would be very interested in the series. After the great slideshow I felt like dressing up ---- but would have nowhere to go.
What fun!!

Margaret said...

I loved the photos!
'Miss'Canada was pretty
cute too...
I think you and David will
miss New Zealand when you get home.
Keep the photos coming!
Love from Margaret (Mum)