Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is a journalist based in Auckland.

Wellington Sevens a smorgasbord

A smorgasbord of colourful costumes and well-behaved crowds have made for a great atmosphere at the capital's biggest sporting event, Sevens organisers say.

Thousands of spectators are slowly filtering in to Westpac Stadium for the final day of the international Hertz Sevens tournament, which has been blessed with a second consecutive afternoon of brilliant sunny weather.

The event has become as well-know for its off-field antics as the rugby itself, but police reported only four arrests and eight evictions from the stadium yesterday.

The crowd was notably less punctual this afternoon than day one, which could be due to a big night for many spectators last night.

New Zealand's quarter-final win over Australia drew plenty of noise from the hometown fans, while tournament darlings Kenya enjoyed nice support from the neutrals.

Sevens general manager Steve Walters said the spirit at the 35,000-capacity stadium had been "fantastic".

The four arrests yesterday was four too many, he said.

"But it's still relatively low considering the number of people that are in here for that long."

Mr Walters said the costumes and the quality of the rugby were highlights.

"Seeing the amount of energy that people are putting into their costumes - some of them are so extravagant and detailed, it's amazing.

"One of the things that we really enjoy is the rugby - that's the biggest aspect for us.

"And some of those match-ups, with some of the main teams getting knocked over by some of the smaller teams, just makes it that much more exciting. And of course New Zealand going through to the cup play-offs, that's always a highlight."

Asked about the slower crowd turn-out today, Mr Walters said thousands of people were continuing to stream in.

"I'm sure it will be similar to previous years and people will get here a bit earlier."

Inspector Terry van Dillen, who is heading the Wellington police operation at the stadium, said the crowds were dribbling in early this afternoon.

"It's nothing huge, that's for sure, at this stage."

Mr van Dillen agreed hangovers might have something to do with that.

"I would imagine so - some of them probably didn't go to bed until about seven this morning. They're probably trying to get some zees, I'd imagine."

He said there were "some great costumes" again today.

Police hoped the low rate of offending at the Sevens would remain low today.

Wellington Free Ambulance said 53 people needed treatment for intoxication yesterday, compared with about 80 last year.

- APNZ

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