Sevens fans pack out the Cake Tin

KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 22:29 04/02/2011

Sevens fans hit the Cake Tin

Wales loss driving them forward

Cook Islands looks to upset

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Satisfied fans were priming to take on Wellington's nightlife after a brilliant first day at the NZI Sevens, capped off with a final win from New Zealand.

The home team cruised into the quarter-finals, beating Argentina 34–7, making their day's tally three from three.

Ignoring the drizzle that set in during the afternoon, Sevens revellers lapped up the atmosphere, either watching the games from inside the stadium or joining the dance party outside.

Many were preparing to carry on the party in the city's bars and pubs pouring out of the stadium as soon as the last game ended in search of some nightlife.

First-time Sevens goer, Campbell Webb, of Wellington said the event was ''heaps better'' than he'd expected and he couldn't wait to come back for the second day.

''The atmosphere is incredible,'' Webb said.

North Shore ''surgeon'' Ian Revell said the best thing was the lack of ''agro''.

''Everyone's just interested in having a good time. People have really gone the extra mile on their costumes this year,'' he said.

Commenting great Keith Quinn, who's been to every Wellington Sevens so far, said the rugby had been fantastic too.

''It used to be that on the first day the competition was very one sided but not any more.''

The party continues Saturday from 1pm when the knockout games begin.

Earlier, as darkness arrived, the music was ramped up as New Zealand stormed home for its second win, beating Papua New Guinea 45-0.

The boys in black received a massive reception from the crowd with many dancing on their seats and waving flags in celebration.

Sevens fever had truly taken hold of the stadium where costume-clad fans got rowdier by the minute.

Two "superheroes" ran across the field just before 7pm, distracting security guards while a third, a naked man, sprinted across the pitch. He was quickly caught by security guards, who wrapped a high-vis around his loins to contain his modesty.

Police said they had arrested four people so far, but had no major issues.

Most of the opening pool matches went script, except those played by underdog Kenya, who lost narrowly to both Samoa and Australia.

New Zealand scored five tries in easing past Scotland in their opening match, while Kenya sent fans wild in its game against Australia, losing only after a last-minute penalty.
 
The game saw the crowd reach record levels, boo-ing the Australians and the referee and simultaneously screaming for the Kenyans.

Earlier, New Zealand scored five tries in easing past Scotland in their opening match.


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COOK ISLANDS 'UNDERDOGS'

Rounded up only a week before the tournament, the Cook Islands sevens team are the self-confessed ''underdogs'' of the NZI Sevens.

''There's no professional players here – we just get together the week before and have a crack at it,'' team member Rangi Vallance said.

''The coach rounds us up from all over – scouts around Australia, New Zealand, the islands – you just have to have some Cook Island blood.''

Vallance was disappointed with the result from the team's first game to Wales, which they lost 31-12, but said coming to the tournament was worth it for the atmosphere alone.

"It's always great every year – we've got a few cheerleaders in the crowd, it's good to see the Cookies out there.

''Good to see people supporting the underdogs.''

KENYANS CROWD FAVOURITES

Humphrey Kayange, on his fourth trip to Wellington, was also playing for a team with few professionals, Kenya.

''For most of the guys in the team it's just hobby – sometimes you have to miss games because your employer wont let you go,'' Kayange said.

''We work 8 until 5 and then have to go and train, it can be tough.''

The team also lost their first game, to Samoa, but wasn’t letting that ruin their style.

The Kenyans are one of the crowd favourites at the tournament, famous for their post-match dances for the crowd.

''We do it because we love the game, we love running, it’s just to show our appreciation,” Kayange said. “And I love Wellington, especially this summer weather.''

Welsh player Lee Rees, 20, said he was disappointed he hadn’t brought his dress-ups along with him, not knowing it was such a party.

''It's my first time, and I've been to a lot of venues but this is probably the best one,'' the halfback said.

''We'll definitely be going out for a few drinks tomorrow night.''

BEING A FAN TAKES DEDICATION

Graham "Sancho" Hocky and his nine mates have been growing their moustaches since Christmas Day in preparation for their "Dirty Mexican" costumes.

"This year will be different because for a start, we'll actually be popular," Hocky, from Auckland, said.

"There's no wives this weekend."

"They're not so keen on the moustaches."

Fans continue to pile into Wellington's Westpac Stadium ahead of the two-day party, with Samoa and Kenya kicking off the first NZI Sevens match at 1pm.

The team's cheerleaders have set up at the front of the stadium, where they will work up the crowd with chants and flagwaving in a bid to win a $7000 prize.

The English group, the Lady Hot Rods, wasted no time drumming up votes - posing for photos on the concourse and sidling up to potential fans.

Some costume-wearers were already struggling to stay cool under the afternoon sun, with one "Gingerbread man" ousted by his group for taking off his top.

"These cost $500 a pop," the group's team leader "Phil" said.

"We made them ourselves, [and] are gonna sell them on eBay at the end."

Meanwhile the "Free Range Chickens" had taken inspiration from their work, at a chicken farm in Himatangi.

"We've got Sexy Chick, Mother Hen, Darth Chook, Punk Chicken and I'm, of course, Le Grande Cock," Gerald Turk said.

"Mother Hen spent about a week putting these together."

A group of Spice Girls, from Auckland, said Ginger Spice had inspired their look after they caught him wearing ladies clothing one evening.

"This isn't even dressing up for him, he loves it," Sporty Spice said.

"We just had these outfits lying around at home."

- Stuff

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