The HSBC International Rugby Sevens Series visited Spain for the first time in its history this year and, seeing as it was the weekend after my birthday, going to watch teams including South Africa, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England battle it out in Malaga was too good an opportunity to miss!
Deciding to make a boys’ weekend out of the event, my mate Rob booked an apartment in the centre of Malaga, close to the Teatro Cervantes. ‘It’s OK. I’ve asked them and they have parking’ he assured me, when I questioned him about whether or not I should take the oversized 4×4.
Arriving on Friday night I discovered that while the apartment did have parking as promised, but via a car lift designed for the average family car. Not a Landcruiser on heightened suspension with a roof rack. Leaving Rob with the apartment keys, I trundled off around the centre of Malaga looking for a space. Needless to say, an oversized 4×4 is not really suited to the city’s narrow streets and, after 40 minutes of fruitless searching, I found a double height parking garage.
We headed to the ground the next day, and I forgot what great fun a Sevens tournament is. Dotted amomg the crowd were Welsh supporters dressed as dragons and daffodils, Scots in kilts and even a smattering of cartoon characters. The sight of Ignacio Molina, Marbella Rugby Club’s talismanic leader in a Super Mario outfit was something to behold, while the attractive female supporter dressed as Catwoman distracted a large proportion of the crowd.
On the field South Africa were a unstopable force, trampling England underfoot with a 42-0 victory. The closest England got in the drubbing was when a hapless player tackled the referee. As the final whistle blew I turned and saw Fraiser, my mate from Cape Town, grinning outrageously. We couldn’t resist a selfie to mark the occasion.
The best atmosphere was across from the ground at the basketball stadium where the bar had decided to open for the event. By the second day they had completely run out of draught beer and the manager was shaking his head, laughing at the general good natured shenanigans. I ended up spending most of the afternoon with a brilliant bunch of Kenya supporters who had flown in from as far away as LA for the tournament and had brought their beatbox. As I left later that evening the Kenyans had met some Spanish girls as well as a group of Irish up for the craic, and the dancing to African beats was just beginning….