So you love sports. You live in the biggest city in the world. You also have ¥5,500 with which to entertain yourself for the weekend… If all this applies to you, we’d suggest you head down to the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground for the Tokyo Rugby Sevens.
The HSBC Sevens World Series is returning to Japan, starting on March the 30th, giving us the opportunity to watch some of the finest running rugby on offer. Last years event was a huge success, with thousands drawn to the stadium over the inaugural weekend and in 2013, the event promises to be even bigger, with the series gaining momentum.
Round 7 will be broadcast in 155 countries worldwide and, building upon the successes of last year, will incorporate a family friendly rugby park with attractions for the little ones, along with a host of other activities fit for all ages. The entire event is extremely family conscious with friendly and eager staff ready to help should the need arise. There will even be a costume contest for those of you who wish to dress to impress…
This weekend is crucial for every team, as a new relegation rule was introduced at the start of the season. All 16 teams here in Tokyo (have a look at the squads here) will be battling not only to win the cup, but to stay ahead of the drop zone.
There is even more incentive to stay up because Rugby Sevens is now an Olympic sport – in couple of years, when the pools are drawn, those in the top tier will have a distinct advantage. This new Olympic status means the member unions are spending more money on player development and coaches have more resources at their fingertips. The result is a faster, more technical game with far greater competition.
So far this year there have been four different winners in six weekends of high-energy rugby. Crowd favourites Kenya are currently fifth overall after a fourth place in Hong Kong last week, with the 2012 Tokyo winners Australia lying eleventh.
New Zealand lead the way and enter as favourites, despite being pipped by Fiji and Wales into third last week. Typically strong teams such as England have fallen by the wayside, while others have risen to take their place . The rugby this year has been unpredictable and Tokyo promises to be just as exciting. For more tables and standings, click here.
If you are wondering where the best seats are, we have got you covered:
For those of you who are interested in the quiet route, with a few sneaky beverages and some home packed sandwiches, we suggest the West stand. If you are seated high enough then shade is ample throughout the day, and the more rambunctious elements generally steer clear.
For those of you who like to sing and dance even if you do not know the language, the East stand is where the foreign contingent usually resides. This eclectic mix of expats runs the gamut, from the party hard Fijians and Samoans to the more refined English gentlemen. Be warned, there will more than likely be one or two Australian men in bikinis, so enter at your own risk!
The North and South stands are usually the reserve of the Japanese contingent and it is worth making a move to these areas when the national team is playing. Japan may be a relatively small rugby nation, but the intensity of the crowd belies their stature.
Personally, I am already excited, but I am having trouble making up my mind which costume to wear this year; orange or banana? See you in the East stand!
For more details see www.tokyoweekender.com/2013/03/rugby-sevens-giveaway
Main image: Captains and coaches from Fiji, New Zealand and Samoa at the pre-tournament press conference on Thursday March 28.