It's high-powered, high-paced and high-impact - and it's proven to be one of the most popular sporting pursuits ever invented.
It's Rugby Sevens, a game in which teams of just seven players have 14 minutes in which to battle for the ball on a full-size rugby field. The Sevens formula has resulted in a wide-open, fast and high-scoring game - and a worldwide spectator success story.
With a game duration of only 14 minutes and just seven team members covering a playground the size of a rugby field, Sevens presents an awesome display of sports fitness, agility and speed. Everyone's on the move, tries are commonly scored once every two or three minutes and always there is the deafening roar of the famously enthusiastic supporters - the whole arena is pumping with adrenaline!
For a sport that has achieved such extraordinary popularity, Rugby Sevens had relatively humble beginnings. In 1883, the local rugby club of the small Scottish town of Melrose was tasked with raising much-needed funds. Concluding that a traditional 20-a-side game was unworkable, the committee decided instead on a seven-a-side team. The concept proved so popular that it rapidly spread around the world, and today Rugby Sevens is played in places as diverse as Fiji, Argentina, Canada, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Malawi.
Here in New Zealand, Rugby Sevens was an instant hit and attracts fans in their thousands - so much so that we now have the most successful team in the world. Launching onto the international stage only 20 years ago, our teams have gone on to deliver outstanding results, winning Hong Kong Sevens tournaments, IRB World Sevens Series and Commonwealth Games gold medals. In 2003 they added the New Zealand International Sevens crown to their impressive collection of titles, beating England at Wellington's Westpac Stadium.
It's no surprise then that New Zealand Post celebrated our Rugby Sevens team with this stamp issue. It's a tribute to their undisputed prowess, their much-lauded innovation and of course their winning performances, which are a huge source of pride for the nation.
Three First Day Covers
The Rugby Sevens stamps were displayed on three first day covers: one with four New Zealand Rugby Sevens stamps attached, one joint issue with two New Zealand and two Hong Kong stamps, and a third with the New Zealand miniature sheet.
The covers themselves featured the Hong Kong Stadium and the Westpac Stadium in Wellington - both key venues for Rugby Sevens games. Whenever Rugby Sevens teams come to town, fans flock in their tens of thousands to watch and cheer them on. Hong Kong in particular has payed a huge part in the sports success, and New Zealand Post was delighted to have issued these stamps in conjunction with HongKong Post.
Capturing the Action
The Rugby Sevens miniature sheet displayed the four stamps against the dramatic backdrop of Westpac Stadium - a Sevens team dwarfed by the huge crowd gathered in support of their teams.
A History of Performance
You could read more about the history of Rugby Sevens and the magnificent New Zealand team in a stylish presentation pack. You could find out more about where the game originated and how its popularity spread around the world - plus the story of the Hong Kong Sevens. The presentation pack included the three first day covers and the miniature sheet.
Hong Kong Joint Issue
The Rugby Sevens stamp issue was produced in conjunction with the most appropriate Rugby Sevens partner in the game - HongKong Post.
This tiny nation has hosted one of the world's most highly regarded Sevens events ever since 1976, when clubs from Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Japan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Fiji participated in the first Hong Kong Sevens tournament.
During the 1970s and 80s, the sport's popularity with spectators and players increased to such an extent that the tournament moved from its home in the Hong Kong Football Club to the Hong Kong Government Stadium. Even that proved short-lived - the burgeoning demand for tickets soon required an arena with even greater capacity. The Stadium was re-built, opening in 1994 as the 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium.
New Zealand Post and HongKong Post were delighted to have celebrated this increasingly significant link between our two countries - our teams may be rivals, but our shared passion for the game is unsurpassed.
Product Listing for Rugby Sevens
Click on image to enlarge.
|Date of issue:||25 February 2004|
|Number of stamps:||Four|
|Denominations and designs:||40c New Zealand Seven, 90c Hong Kong Sevens, $1.50 Hong Kong Stadium, $2.00 Westpac Stadium, Wellington|
|Stamps and miniature sheet designed by:||CommArts Design, Wellington|
|Printer and process:||Southern Colour Print, Dunedin by offset lithography|
|Number of colours:||Four process colours|
|Stamp size and format:||45mm x 28mm (horizontal)|
|Paper type:||Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor stamp paper|
|Number of stamps per sheet:||50|
|Special blocks:||Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps from a sheet. Barcode, value blocks and logo blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least two stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B format.|
|Period of sale:||These stamps remained on sale until 24 February 2005.|