Pam Corkery: Sydney teaches Wellington a lesson in how not to screw up the sevens

Fans enjoy the atmosphere during the women's semifinal match between Australia and Canada at the Sydney Sevens last weekend.
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Fans enjoy the atmosphere during the women's semifinal match between Australia and Canada at the Sydney Sevens last weekend.

OPINION: Going to the rugby sevens has never been high on my Must Do list.   

There's no hurry, obviously. Like the Righteous Brothers drone-fest You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', the sevens seems to be played somewhere around the world at some time.

My reluctance is fear-based; that I would be caught in telly news footage of stumbling, screaming women dressed in an astonishingly limited range of costumes. There's the schoolgirl, the maid, the witch or Wonder Woman.        

New Zealand take on Fiji in the quarterfinal match last weekend.
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New Zealand take on Fiji in the quarterfinal match last weekend.

Likewise the men and the same costumes. Kiwi blokes can't get enough of wearing frocks and tights so clingy you can tell their religion along with assessing their level of desperation to fulfil an otherwise repressed fantasy. 

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Stop proving Darwin wrong, be out loud and proud, respectively.              

I've knocked back many invitations in the past few years to be a seat-filler at the Wellington comp. My graceless response is that I would rather lick the road. Until last weekend; the difference being that I was in Sydney at the same time as the Sevens. The final day was sold out so the offer of tickets was like winning Lotto.   

Wow. It was a sensational day of human connection with hitherto strangers who were suddenly a crew. I headed away with little voice, stinging hands, promises to keep in touch, and a huge question mark as to how Wellington managed to screw up such a gimme event.  

The matches are fast, athletic, and often between uneven sides so there are heaps of underdog teams to root for. Fans just want to have fun, to escape from the scary world, to be friendly and to cheer for PNG or any other team that hasn't got a chance.        

And the Sydney Sevens weren't flashy. No Lady Gaga allegedly jumping from the roof of the stadium. Cirque de Soleil didn't perform, as happened at the Las Vegas Sevens. It was simply a well-executed operation that covered all the bases.   

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The music. Wellington had live bands which were patently chosen by a swinging vicar type. The line-up wasn't hip, wasn't groovy, it wasn't now, it wasn't back then.   

And live bands don't work in large outdoor venues unless you have a massive sound desk, multiple engineers, and rehearsals. Yes, when the music is the main attraction. When it's a side bar live the sound quality is usually woeful.  

In Sydney masterful DJs with a finely tuned sense of moment made the recorded music a big component. There were clips to complement all swoops and rises of the games and the tracks were all familiar with song lyrics on screens just in case.   

The price. The cost for last month's Wellington Sevens was cheeky and counterproductive. After losing fans therefore money in 2016 it's fair to expect a big price reduction. It would have been recouped by more punters turning up and buying over-priced food. The cheapest adult two-day ticket was $137. In Dubai the price was $187 for three days. In London, $70 for the whole weekend, and in Sydney $72 for the cheapest adult two-day pass.   

Finally the location. You will be on the edge of your seat for the closing comment from someone with a day's live rugby sevens experience.  

Like a big chook I am going to hide behind the words of my late father who said of Wellington, it's the armpit of the nation. 

He loved the sevens and would enjoy them any time, anywhere, so long as it wasn't there.       

 - Sunday Star Times

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