Last weekend, the entire city was wrapped up in the NZI Sevens (including us!). The weekend was kicked off by an international parade of nations on Thursday afternoon. It was led by a drum corps, and each country had a large-headed "mascot".
Sevens is like the Lollapalooza of Rugby - several games over two days. It is a huge party and everyone is expected to dress up in something clever. (Yet Halloween is not big here!)
We were incredibly lucky to score 10 tickets in the shady side of the stadium right in the first row. Our Meetin friends joined us, although we never did sort out matching costumes!
One thing I really like about the stadium/sports games here is that beer is sold in (plastic) bottles, not plastic cups of watered-down crap beer. Definitely reduces spillage.
Darren and I were mainly there for the rugby, though, and it was fantastic! On the first day, sixteen teams (New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Samoa, PNG, Canada, United States, South Africa, Kenya, England, Scotland, Wales, France, Argentina, Tonga and Cook Islands) played in four "pools". The winners and losers went on to day 2 and competed in semi-finals and finals games.
The New Zealand team was incredible - the only team on the first day not to let an opponent score a point. And their final game against Samoa not only filled the stands but had everyone on their feet yelling, cheering and groaning. Samoa is often referred to as a "cousin" of New Zealand, and definitely had many supporters in the stands. Ultimately, NZ won the game in the last minute to spectacular cheers.
The best part came after the game when the NZ team collected the winners cup and immediately stripped their shirts off and performed the Haka. Beautiful! I *heart* rugby!