By Michael John Oliver
Day One of the 2012 Hertz Wellington Sevens had a splash of creativity, a dash of controversy, and the odd upset thrown in for good measure. And that was just the footy.
Day Two promises to be even more exciting, as 30,000 hungover patrons return promising not to make the same mistakes, but almost certainly doing so with the fire of a thousand burning suns.
This time, it's finals day. And with New Zealand well in the hunt for back-to-back titles, it will take an impressive effort to usurp the Kiwis.
We'll bring you all the highs and lows from Day 2, including video highlights of New Zealand's push for consecutive Wellington titles.
11:37pm - And that's all he wrote from this year's Hertz Wellington Sevens. The home side sent the capacity crowd home happy, and now a small army is busy cleaning up the huge mess left in their wake. God knows what Courtenay Place looks like right now.
If this tournament's proven anything, it's that Kiwis can be rabid rugby fans. All they need is booze, and silly costumes. NZRU, get on this. Goodnight!
9:55pm - New Zealand wins! Fiji snatch a late consolation try, but this Kiwi side literally had it won at half time. The crowd is on fire. That's not literally, of course. (But if they were, do you honestly think they'd mind?)
9:39pm - Two tries to Frank Holai, one to captain DJ Forbes, and one to Tomasi Cama on the stroke of half time has New Zealand leading Fiji by a commanding 24-0. I know 30,000+ people who don't mind that.
9:28pm - New Zealand and Fiji sprint onto the field. Ten minutes each half. Falls don't count anywhere, and the WWE title is not on the line... but this is bigger than that.
9:24pm - England and Samoa take laps of honour to thank the crowd. I've counted 67 security guards standing around both the perimeter and on the playing surface itself. Both finalists are about to receive a special Maori welcoming onto the field as the crowd comes in too soon for the chorus of AC/DC's "Back in Black".
9:16pm - England have run out 21-12 winners in the battle for third. This crowd is drunk on... well, the obvious... and anticipation for the final.
9:12pm - Speaker system blares Oasis' "Wonderwall," stopping right before the chorus as play was about to resume. 30,000 people continued to belt it out anyway.
9:01pm - Huge cheer for the New Zealand team as they warm up. The final is scheduled for 9:30pm. In the meantime, an utterly meaningful third place match between Samoa and England is taking place.
8:57pm - Another runner makes his way onto the field, and the crowd goes ballistic. He dips and swerves between three Red Security guys, before being flipped on his side and muscled to the ground.
A fourth guard jumps in just in case, you know, a 70kg white guy goes nuts on them. Was entirely heavy handed, and the crowd let them know. But security ain't nothing to mess with after last night's shambles in the final game.
8:51pm - South Africa have won the plate in convincing fashion, downing Tonga 24-0. Time for the crowd to "Twist Again". It's surreal being able to see the stadium writhe and wriggle. A man dressed as Austin Powers is... doing a remarkable impression, it must be said. He has Austin's mannerisms down to a T. I'm concerned about the amount of time it would have taken him to learn them all so well.
8:35pm - The crowd is like nothing I've ever seen at a New Zealand sports event. There are several shades of mental out there, and many of them are wearing Fred Flinstone costumes. The Black Swan is also popular among both genders, and the less said about the man dressed as a "furry wall" the better.
Kenya have beaten Australia to win the bowl, much to the crowd's adulation, by 12-7. A tournament the Canberra Raider-wannabe Aussies will want to forget. They were booed at every turn, and their performances weren't anything to write home about. Kenya, however, were sublime. Their rise in sevens rugby is testament to the reach of the game, and proof that it's a completely different beast to 15 man rugby.
Getting an interview at this stage is proving tricky. Nobody is reluctant, per se, but they're unwilling to speak in publishable terms. My interview with Karl the lumberjack from Te Puke went like this:
Me: Karl, who's going to win the cup?
Karl: Mother[beep] I just want to say... that this [puts arm around friend] good [beep] is the best good [beep] here... and there are so many good times here. WOOO!
It is good fun, though.
7:34pm - Rain is wafting across Westpac Stadium, and many members of the crowd have taken the opportunity to dash back into the concourse and refill their already full bodies.
The buzz is certainly favouring a New Zealand victory, with one gentleman dressed as Fred Flinstone saying Fiji are only there "to make us look good".
We write them off at our peril.
7:25pm - Fiji just delivered a masterclass in running sevens rugby, dispatching Samoa 28-5 to set up a mouth-watering, knee-knocking, place-where-finger-nails-will-go-to-die clash with New Zealand later tonight.
New Zealand has won the Wellington Sevens four times, Fiji has won it three times. Will it be four all, or will the Kiwis pick up their fifth title? Stay tuned.
7:10pm - This is the loudest this crowd's been all weekend. It's taken two outstanding cup semis to bring them to life. And apparently, the whole club was looking at her. Woah, woah, woah, woah...
Fiji have a 14-0 lead over Samoa as the second half gets under way. Wait, make that 21-0. Great try from Talebula there.
6:57pm - New Zealand wins! Frank Halai fist pumps as he scores in the corner. Epic match - 17-12 to the home side. The stadium is full, nobody's on the concourse.
6:52pm - This is dramatic. 12-all with a minute to go. Great comeback from New Zealand.
Full time - 12-all. England kick for touch, and we've got five minutes of extra time. First scorer wins.
6:29pm - Strawberry Shortcake and Bumblebee the Autobot Transformer pick up awards for best female and male costumes, but the Lego men are the supreme costume winners. All of a sudden, a huge fireball in the middle of the field scares the absolute S out of the 30,000+ crowd.
And it's semi time. Go New Zealand.
6:25pm - They're about to announce the winners of the costume contest. I want the two women dressed as the Cuba Street Bucket Fountain to win, but I think it'll go to the Phoenix.
Rousing cheer for the New Zealanders as they make their way back into the changing shed, and a disappointing string of boos for the English. C'mon, guys. This is why people say we have a small country complex.
6:19pm - A man with a vicious look on his face is firing t-shirts into the crowd. "Yeah, you can have a shirt, but don't think I'll like you for it."
6:07pm - A gentleman who was begging for a spare ticket to today's matches was spotted sitting in the back aisle of seats near the media centre with a huge grin on his face. "It's the best party there is," he says.
New Zealand is out warming up for their semi final clash with England, set to get under way at 6:35pm.
5:34pm - Australia run out 24-12 winners, as the stadium sound system blares "Skippy the Bush Kangaroo". Let it be known far and wide that the Hertz Wellington Sevens is a pro-Australia love zone.
In case you missed New Zealand's quarter final win over France, you may check out the highlights by clicking View Video. But only if you're good.
Apparently, there's rugby going on. I, for one, am shocked. Here's the latest from the bowl and shield semis:
Kenya have distracted the Welsh with promises of leek stew (and strong running rugby) to run out 17-7 winners in their bowl semi.
The Cook Islands have picked up the scalp of Japan, beating them 17-10.
While Scotland has dug deep to put the USA out of its misery 14-12 in the other shield clash.
Meanwhile, at half time, Argentina are locked in a 7-all draw with Australia. I can't imagine those lime green monstrosities would look any better through the lens of a hangover.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the tournament is the amount of booing towards the Australian team. It's not their fault they look like cheap lime cordial.
5:08pm - The party zone outside skips along [gets pulled off stage by giant cane].
While the Wellywood sign has found a home. "We actually hate the Wellywood thing. Totally against it," the letter W says.
4:52pm - The crowd was treated to a "Star of the Sevens" sing-song.
Meanwhile, outside resembles a rave party with all the expected bits and pieces (sans the illegal ones). A stage has been set up that's pumping, positively pumping, the finest drinkalong dubstep remixes. Have you heard "Bliss" by Th Dudes with a little bit of intz-intz, bom-tsh, dof-dof, added to it? It's wonderful. Just wonderful.
We've got a photo gallery full of costumes and colour from Day 2 just over yonder
4:20pm - This morning's hangover seems to have lifted from the stadium (which is about half full), and the party has started to rumble. I'm running out of words to describe the party. If you have any suggestions, please send them to me on Twitter @MJ_Oliver.
Behold, the Tui Men. They like Tui, evidently. When asked why they were dressed as such, they responded "Tui". One took the opportunity to ride his shorts up his backside and reveal (and I regretfully quote) his "Tui crack". Tui seems to be a synonymous with "dignity" in this case.
The Rasta Lads, however, owned. Where the hell do you buy black balloons from anyway?
4:03pm - Samoa will face Fiji, after the men in white dispatched South Africa 19-5 in the latest quarter.
So the semi final line up looks a little something like this: New Zealand vs England, Fiji vs Samoa. The first match of which will kick off at 6:35pm.
Who wants photos? Yes. Yes you do. More coming your way.
3:40pm - Oh Canada! So close! So deliciously close! They've gone down 15-12 to Samoa in the quarter finals, after a late try put the match into extra time. A silly penalty gave the Island lads a chance to win it, and Lolo Lui made sure of that. Canada, this sevens crowd is standing on guard (and on their feet) for thee.
3:13pm - England has made light work of Tonga, running out 26-7 winners. Poor Tonga looked run off their feet, brow beaten in their own 22 for the entire first half. Their only consolation came right at the end through a last minute try.
But to be honest, England didn't look like much chop either. They did enough to bury a tired Tongan side, but will need to find another gear to beat New Zealand in tonight's semi.
If we see someone in white trying to convince Hosea Gear to swap sides, we'll let you know. Next up, mighty Canada against Samoa.
2:53pm - New Zealand are through to the cup semis, dispatching France by 22-7. It was an aggressive Kiwi squad, all muscle and pump, and too much gas on the outside running in five tries to the French's one. France resorted to a wee bit of niggle, which saw one of their men sinbinned. France surrendering, how unlike them.
2:30pm - It's as wet and foggy as a Wellington summer. Wait... what
The Green Squad slept in their uniforms last night. When asked if they woke up with a green pillow this morning, they responded "Everything was green this morning."
First of the cup quarters underway with New Zealand vs Le France.
2:02pm - An unsurprising number of people slept in their costumes last night, whether by design or the fault of some nefarious brown liquid. The Museum Hotel costume contest is heating up, and we'll have photos up from that in just a jiffy.
Wales made light work of the USA, winning 10-0, while Australia had a little bit of a field day in thumping Japan 33-5.
1:19pm - Kenya have sent the bonny Scots back to tha loch with a 14-5 win. Meanwhile, out on the concourse, (AKA the March of the Dead) someone was heard to lament: "Why didn't I get, like, a second coffee?" The Welsh lock horns with the USA in game two.
1:00pm - The first match of the day has kicked off, with the might of Kenya taking on Wee Hamish's clan from Scotland. It's a bowl quarter final, but a quarter final all the same. Neither side will want their tournament to end before 1:30pm.
I could count the number of people in the stadium, and probably get to know them all by name. The shortness in numbers hasn't deterred a raucous few from chanting "Ruuugby! Ruuugby!" Unfortunately, awards aren't dispensed for knowing what sport you've paid to see.
12:40pm – A misty day has dawned over Wellington, which we hope will blow away as the day goes on. A lot of hungover faces have risen this morning. Will they be up for more fun and frivolity? There for but the grace of God goes them all.
The first game is set to kick off at 1:00pm, but in the meantime, check out the highlights from New Zealand's win over Samoa from last night.
source: newshub archive