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Power Ranking the Atmosphere at IRB Sevens' Venues

Danny CoyleFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2014

Power Ranking the Atmosphere at IRB Sevens' Venues

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    Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

    The IRB Sevens World Series concludes this weekend at Twickenham.

    This global tour began in October last year in Australia and has taken in stops from Scotland to Sin City.

    The world’s most fleet-footed players in their outlandish strips have been entertaining crowds all over the planet in a series that has helped the sport achieve Olympic status.

    Rio de Janeiro will get a taste of the Sevens experience at the 2016 games which is sure to bring another dimension to the Olympic offering.

    If the atmosphere in the Brazilian city can match some of those seen on the World Series circuit, it will be one of the hottest tickets in town.

    Here’s how the current series venues rank.

8. Glasgow

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    Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

    Glasgow's Scotstoun Stadium has the smallest capacity of all the venues on this year’s circuit with 15,000.

    The lottery that is the Scottish weather can play a large part in how "up for it" the crowd can get at a ground of this nature, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in the benefit you get with shorter queues for the bar and the gents toilets.

    That would make any rugby fan cheer.

7. Tokyo

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    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Tokyo was added to the World Series itinerary in 2012 with the leg this year being staged at the 27,000 capacity Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground.

    One of the smaller capacity stadiums on the tour, it doesn’t hit the heights of a Wellington or Twickenham for atmosphere, but expect that to change as Japan gears up for hosting the 2019 15-a-side World Cup.

6. Port Elizabeth

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    Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

    In 2013 more than any other year, the South African leg of the series produced a special atmosphere.

    The event was staged in Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, just days after the passing of the great man.

    It was fitting that the home side would lift the trophy that weekend, and their passage through to the final was accompanied by passionate home support that produced an atmosphere in the stadium reminiscent of the day in 1995 when Mandela handed over the World Cup to Francois Pienaar.

    The stadium itself is relatively new, having been built for the 2010 World Cup, but its large capacity and passionate fans promise much for the ground as a long-term fixture on the circuit.

5. Gold Coast

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    You can't go far wrong putting a Sevens tournament on Australia's Gold Coast. Skilled park delivers all you would expect in laid back Aussie fun.

    Sunshine, beer and barbeques. Sevens Heaven.

4. Wellington

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    Phil Walter/Getty Images

    Wellington’s "Cake Tin" supplies the venue for the New Zealand leg of the tour, and the fans make every effort to turn it into a fancy dress party with one of the highest volumes of costumes per head anywhere on the circuit.

    The pitch is a little far from the action due to the stadium’s circular design, but the welcoming nature of the locals and the fact the home side usually reach the latter stages makes for a fun-filled weekend.

3. Dubai

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    Warren Little/Getty Images

    Dubai’s purpose-built Sevens venue has become known in a very short time for its party atmosphere in the stands thanks to its large rugby-loving ex-pat community who flock to the tournament every year.

    The happy combination of rugby fans, sunshine and beer seldom fails to create a great atmosphere, and this is not one of those rare instances.

2. Twickenham

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    Warren Little/Getty Images

    Twickenham has a rich Sevens history having hosted the Middlesex Sevens for a number of years.

    That tournament has somewhat lost its status as the premier event at the stadium with the arrival of the World Series, which now rounds off the season in May.

    If the weather is good, Twickenham is capable of shaking off its reputation as something of a soulless stadium and producing a raucous party atmosphere for World Series weekend.

1. Hong Kong

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    Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

    Hong Kong is the spiritual home of Sevens rugby.

    Long before the World Series rolled into town it was the venue for the world’s most popular sevens tournament and a mecca for fans who wanted to combine a weekend of watching rugby with outrageous fancy dress, copious amounts of booze and one giant party.

    From its beginnings in 1976 it has been the premier tournament on the sevens calendar. Legendary rugby commentator Bill McLaren wrote in his autobiography Talking of Rugby (h/t Steve Hackman.net):

    I remember a big South Sea islander saying that, in his view, the Hong Kong sevens were really the Olympic games of Rugby Union. Certainly, the Hong Kong event encapsulates all the really good things that the game has to offer–splendid organisation, wonderful sporting spirit, universal camaraderie, admirable field behaviour, the most enjoyable crowd participation...

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