Hong Kong 7s: Getting tickets

Demand for the best rugby tournament in Asia means getting hold of tickets for the Hong Kong 7s is a challenge. I identify the easiest, most difficult and most frustrating ways to do this, influencing a wider schedule for a trip.

By and large, Hong Kong residents only are eligible in a ballot for cost price tickets, with an allocation packaged up with tours of various types. Of course, there is a reselling market as well through a number of channels, I’ve used all of these for trips to the 2008 and 2012 tournaments, while I’ve always kept an eye on the logistics for tournaments following this later visit.

Hotel packages

Sports specialist tour operators from Europe and globally organise a range of packages to cover flights, hotels and tours sold in combination with a match tickets for all three days of the tournament. This is probably the easiest way to do it, but the most expensive by a distance. UK-based Gullivers Travel, though, have recently started offering hotel and ticket only packages. This comes out at around GBP 750 per person for a very basic hotel on Hong Kong island and ticket. The pro rata cost of this, however, is equivalent to paying GBP 400/night for a small three star twin room for two.

From the very limited experience I’ve had with these touring companies, it’s a cosseted experience with an older crowd. But that was no protection of Champagne cork scrap I cowered from on a Eurostar carriage on a similar trip to Paris.

Flight packages

Cathay Pacific are main sponsors of the event and historically have offered a slightly overpriced tournament ticket if you buy a flight with them to Hong Kong from a global range of locations. I’m always well disposed to Cathay after getting upgraded with a bunch of English teachers when our dozy school failed to confirm reservations for us – it’s a discerning brand.

In 2016, however, this wasn’t available from anywhere in Europe but was from places like Dubai, China and Singapore. Depending on circumstances, it could be worth getting a cheap positioning flight to these locations, then picking up a package from there. This is better for later decisions as these packages only become available around the new year. Cathay’s site has placeholder text at the time of writing.

Independent logistics and free style tickets

From experience there is a massive resale market with varying levels of officialty. Viagogo is the official resale market and as a result is expense. Once tickets go on sale to the HK public this becomes quite an active pool and offers the benefit of being able to pick out individual days if you aren’t doing the whole tournament.

More independently, there is lots of activity on Asia XPat with less incentive for profit, I’ve benefitted from this before though it offers less guarantees. In 2012 I can recall running up and down flights of stairs with a horse’s head costume attempting to buy a ticket off a couple before their babysitter knocked off for the night.

Finally, just picking up a ticket off the streets leading to the stadium can lead to rich pickings as well. I picked up a ticket for one day of the tournament here for HKD 700 (street value estimate is 1000/day) from a mortally hungover scouser, limp hot dog costume at his side. Main tactic in the haggle was he needed to throw up before I could get more notes out of my pocket. As much as the supporter scene changes in rugby, dare I say sobers out,  I can’t see a situation of a hangover-free crowd anytime soon.

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