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The first Friday and Saturday of February each year welcomes visitors from all around the world to Wellington for its biggest party of the year: The New Zealand leg of the IRB Sevens.
Wellington’s Westpac Stadium holds 34,500 people who come to watch the 16 teams, including Kenya, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, U.S.A, Scotland and England, play one day of pool matches and one day of finals. This year New Zealand retained their Wellington title, beating Fiji 24-7. This win also puts them in the overall series lead.
Rugby Sevens is a fast-paced game in which each team has seven on-field players and each half is only seven minutes, which keeps the crowd excited as every second and every play counts. Only a small amount of the Wellington Sevens experience is about the rugby however, and although 2012 is the first year to have an official stadium costume contest, each year a lot of thought is put in by patrons as to what costumes they should wear.
Some of our honourable mentions for 2012 go to; the group dressed as green army-man toys, Angry Birds characters, bacon and eggs, two girls dressed as the iconic Wellington bucket fountain, a lot of very brave LMFAO look-alikes and of course the competition winners, the LEGO men.
If you can’t manage to get stadium tickets, which can be difficult as they usually sell out within 10 minutes, the best place to soak up the atmosphere and see the costumes is at the Courtenay Place street party after the grand final. Wellington’s main street is closed to traffic as revellers bar-hop and dance in the street until the sun comes up, with most bars having their own competitions for best costume.
The IRB Sevens World Series runs from December through to March/April with tournaments in nine countries and the next legs are in Las Vegas from the 10th until the 12th of February (which will also be broadcast on NBC Sports) and Hong Kong 23rd to 25th March 2012.