Wellington Sevens: Ready for the party

KERRY MCBRIDE
Last updated 05:00 01/02/2013
Mike Blackmore and Rosie Hixon
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
HARD CORE: Mike Blackmore and Rosie Hixon are two of a group of close to 90 people going to the sevens as Adam and Eve.

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Tim Mikkelson (left) and Belgium Tuatagaloa acknowledge the crowd.

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Take 89 young and fit sevens fans, 7000 fabric leaves, 18 bottles of fake tan, and two 15-metre snakes and you've got yourself a party.

They may have settled on the costume idea only a fortnight ago, but the massive group of Adams and Eves are sure to make an impact when they hit Westpac Stadium for the Hertz Wellington Sevens today.

Led by a core of sevens veterans, the group have been working tirelessly since last Wednesday to sew their costumes. They don't cover much, but they still took hundreds of hours to complete.

Each participant chipped in $100 for their kit, which includes jandals, leaves, sunglasses, fake apples and fake tan - 18 commercial bottles of it, costing $875.

Organiser Brendon Syder, 27, has been dressing up for the past six years, with sperm, Smurfs, and troll dolls all in his portfolio.

But this year is the first time women have been thrown into the mix. "It's always good to have a few females around. It'll be a little bit more tame, I guess - actually no it won't, that's a lie."

Fellow group member Rosie Hixon said some of the women tried at first to make the costumes a bit more "prudish", but they soon embraced the sevens spirit.

For Mike Blackmore, the revealing costumes won't be too much of a problem. "When you're all out as a big group, you lose those worries pretty quickly. It's like being at a nudist beach - you just go ahead and put it all out there."

DON'T GET TOO CARRIED AWAY WITH SEVENS SPIRIT

It's the one costume no sevens reveller wants to see - the paramedic in the back of the ambulance.

Wellington's emergency services are bracing for the onslaught of drunk sevens revellers, with extra paramedics, police and doctors working over the next two days.

Tighter controls are being introduced this year in an attempt to curb antisocial behaviour, including R18 wristbands to make it easier to identify underage drinkers.

A hard line will be taken against those flouting the rules, with Wellington Sevens organisers warning they will eject offenders from Westpac Stadium and cancel tickets.

More than 70,000 spectators are expected to flood into the stadium for the event, which injects about $15 million into the Wellington economy.

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Alcohol-related injuries from the event clogged up Wellington Hospital's emergency department every year, but this year sunburn and heat exhaustion were of extra concern.

"Nobody goes out expecting to end up in the back of an ambulance, but it's the little things, like not eating enough or drinking enough water, that tend to ruin people's weekends," emergency medicine specialist Paul Quigley said.

"Severe sunburn is going to be a big issue this year, and wearing hot costumes can cause heat stroke and exhaustion, which is made worse by alcohol."

An extra doctor was rostered on for the afternoon shifts and an extra nurse for the night shifts, Dr Quigley said.

"Last year during sevens weekend we saw almost double the number of alcohol-related presentations in ED.

"Look after yourself and your friends at all times, and don't get dangerously drunk."

Within two hours of last year's tournament kicking off, the first drunken patient was already struggling to keep himself upright at Wellington Hospital. More than 160 patients sought medical treatment at the hospital and ambulance triage tents for intoxication and injuries.

Wellington Free Ambulance will again set up a triage tent on the stadium concourse and another in Tory St, operations team manager Mark Shakespeare said.

Twenty extra paramedics were rostered on, and four additional vehicles would be operating to cope with the spike in drunk and injured patients.

"We're dealing with anything and everything that comes up . . . historically we've had lots of trips, falls, sprains, strains and minor lacerations," Mr Shakespeare said.

Wellington Hospital emergency medicine consultant Andy Swain will be based at the triage tents to deal with more complicated medical issues.

Police said there would also be a much stronger presence at Westpac Stadium, along the waterfront and in the central city.

Between midday today and 9am on Sunday, 140 police will be hitting the beat - including road policing and general duties - significantly more than on a typical weekend. Last year, 14 people were arrested at the stadium and 68 were evicted during the tournament, with 30 people denied entry because of intoxication and trying to smuggle in alcohol.

"When you consider that there's 33,000 people going through those gates every day [the numbers] are not huge," operation commander Inspector Simon Perry said.

SAFE SEVENS INFORMATION

Empty water bottles up to 1 litre can be taken in. Free water will be available from water coolers on the concourse.

Take sunblock and apply regularly.

Pass-outs will be stopped at 6pm on both days.

Wristbands to be worn on right arm at all times. There will be different wristbands for both days and identification is required for under 25s.

Alcohol is banned in public areas in the city and on the Fran Wilde Walkway to the stadium.

Cold food such as sandwiches, fruit and potato chips can be taken into the stadium. Large picnic baskets or chilly bins are prohibited, as are takeaways.

Sound amplifiers, musical instruments, offensive signs or banners are banned.

- The Dominion Post

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