30 Jan 2016

Turnout remains low at Wgtn Sevens

2:01 pm on 30 January 2016

The action's hotting up on day one of the Wellington Sevens, but turnout remains low at the once-popular rugby tournament.

Bloodied surgeons prepare for carnage on (and off) the field.

Bloodied surgeons prepare for carnage on (and off) the field. Photo: RNZ / Michael Cropp

England got the day underway by edging France 17-14 in the first match, before the USA beat Samoa 24-20.

In the past, that would have been an upset but the Americans are one of the dark horses now with their twin speedsters Carlin Isle and Perry Baker, beating perennial favourites New Zealand for the first time this season.

World Series front-runners South Africa and Fiji had predictable opening victories. The Blitz Bokke thumped Scotland 28-5 and Fiji thrashed Japan 45-7.

There have already been a couple of eyebrow-raising results in this most competitive of sevens seasons, with Argentina edging Wales 19-12, while Kenya thumped Canada 31-7.

Australia came back from an early shock 12-0 deficit to Portugal to run away 19-12 winners.

But the turnout remained low, with only half the seats in Westpac Stadium occupied.

On Friday, Wellington Sevens organisers said only 13,000 tickets had been sold, well below the stadium's 35,000 seat capacity.

The organisers would not provide an update today, saying it was too soon to know whether door sales were going to make a difference.

Despite the low turnout, plenty of people have dressed up for the party.

Matt Foskett was among a group of 20 people dressed as surgeons, preparing for the day's carnage.

"We're bloodied surgeons. We're all going to Sevens, we're all going to have a good time there.

"We've got a white labcoat and it's stained with blood, we've got the bloody mask and then we've got these big, giant bloody syringes and lots of fake blood, so we'll just smear that."

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