Caesar and Cleopatra Do The Sevens

The first weekend in February is
the time for the Wellington Sevens, a two-day international seven-a-side rugby
competition that fills the city with fans and others dressed in every kind of
weird and wacky costume. There is nothing quite like it – where in the world
would you find Smurfs, Flintstones, Roman legions etc etc, not just packing the
rugby stadium (35,000 seats) but strolling around the city and drinking in the
pubs? Last year we saw the fans and festivities, and this year we decided to
join in the event itself. We were lucky enough to get tickets a few months
earlier when they went on sale online and sold out in 3 minutes. Then in
January we found a costume hire shop and booked our outfits for the event.


On Thursday 4th there
was a parade of all the participating teams through Wellington, which we
attended in our lunch hour. On Friday the weather was fine and clear, and after
leaving work early we went home and changed into costume. Transformed into
Julius Caesar and Cleopatra we sallied forth to view the action at the nearby
Cake Tin (Westpac Stadium). We joined the crowds streaming inside and watched
some of the games, before going out for a meal at a nearby pub. We went back in
time to watch the opening ceremony (which took place halfway through the
evening). We found the actual rugby quite fast and furious, and at 7 minutes
each half the matches went past pretty quickly.


On Saturday the weather was
bright and sunny again. We went in again just after the matches began, and
found the stadium almost empty of spectators. It filled up gradually, and later
we went out and walked along the waterfront, passing hundreds of costumed fans
heading in the opposite direction. We got drinks, and later on a light meal,
before returning for the evening matches. The place was crowded by then, and
very noisy. Most people were just having fun, but there was a fair amount of
yobby behaviour. We stayed till the end – Fiji won the final, by the way.


At 9.30 we joined the hordes flocking
out and walking down to Courtenay Place, in the city centre, which was turned
into party central. All traffic was banned for the night, and the pubs had
extended their territory well out into the street.  There were stages and dancing, but thousands
of people just walked around, showing off their costumes.   The
pubs were of course very crowded, but we managed to squeeze into one, fight our
way to the bar and find a place outside where we could watch the crowds going
past. We got home around 2 am, probably a lot earlier than most of the party
people. So that was the Wellington Sevens, exciting, exhausting and a totally
unique experience.

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