Hong Kong Sevens 2024: end of era on and off pitch as Salom Yiu and South Stand approach last hurrah

Yiu said the home team were always spurred on by the fans’ support and tended to raise their level for the city’s biggest sporting occasion.

“That’s home advantage,” the two-time Asian Games gold medallist said. “There’s this adrenaline rush and a bit of pressure, too, but knowing your family and friends are there watching always gave us an extra push.”

Hong Kong won the inaugural Shield in 2010, defeating Russia 19-17, and Yiu said that was an “unforgettable” start to his years playing at the venue.

“It was the first time the World Series had the Shield tournament and we won it on home soil,” he said. “That was also the first time I watched my favourite team New Zealand performing the haka live, so it was awesome.”

Another high note was to follow three years later when the hosts reached the Bowl final, albeit that they were humbled by England.

“We didn’t win but the result was historic, our performances were on the rise,” the 36-year-old said.

Taking into account the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw the tournament cancelled in 2020 and 2021, Yiu has appeared in all 12 available Sevens, culminating in another Shield title last year.

“That was perfect and made it complete,” he said, mindful that Hong Kong will not be part of the main competition this year.

“I am quite proud [of the 12 appearances], because it has never been done before. My former teammates had injuries and could only play on and off, but I stuck with it.”

All good things must come to an end, and after 42 years at the current site, the Sevens is set to relocate across the harbour to Kai Tak Sports Park in 2025.

The veteran admitted he wondered what it would be like to play at the new venue but insisted he will only watch from the stands. He said he had mixed feelings, having played in events all over the world and never seen a venue quite like the one at home.

“Fans may need time to get used to it,” he said. “But sitting just in front of the harbour, I think [its position] is magnificent.”

“The new venue is beautiful but transport could be an issue. Nowhere in the world is quite comparable with Hong Kong Stadium. It’s such a party, then after a long day, another party could be just minutes away.

Hong Kong’s Salom Yiu on the charge against Japan at the 2016 Sevens. Photo: K.Y. Cheng

“Also, the atmosphere in the South Stand isn’t only for the fans. It hypes us up too. We celebrate with the fans if we score on that side.

“They really have to do it right in the first year at Kai Tak to give the visitors a great impression for them to come back.”


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