6 Feb 2009

Fans give Sevens teams warm welcome

6:03 am on 6 February 2009

Fans were out in force in Wellington on Thursday to welcome teams ahead of the International Rugby Sevens tournament.

The Wellington leg of the competition kicks off its 10th year at Westpac Stadium on Friday. Sixteen teams will compete.

One of the stars of the Sevens, England's Ben Gollings, says the team always loves coming to Wellington.

"It's great the way the town comes out and supports it - they pack the streets. It's good fun and it's good for us. We all have a bit of a laugh."

One performer already in party mode was Austin Powers impersonator Garry Brown, making his ninth appearance at the event.

"I'm always excited about being here 'cause Wellington really lays it on and I think it's just smashing baby, yeah."

Bars and hotels are filling up fast. Hospitality Association Wellington Branch president Adam Cunningham says despite the tough economic situation, people seem to arriving in the captial even earlier than usual.

Mr Cunningham says sales in local cafes, bars and restaurants sales have spiked already this week.

He expects most hotels will have 100% occupancy rates this weekend.

The first game of the 16-team tournament begins at 1pm on Friday.

Superhero costumes tricky

Costume shops say they are flat out with all sorts of last-minute requests.

Costume Company owner Angela Brown says traditional favourites such as pilots and the Flintstones are still very much in demand.

Also proving popular is Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, which has been requested by male and female customers.

But she says superhero costumes are not, with many finding the jumpsuits difficult to negotiate in the crowded bathrooms.

Ms Brown says despite the late flurry, customers are in good spirits with some even hiring costumes just to join in the fun, even though they do not have a ticket to the Sevens.