Lions tour manager Andy Irvine knows all about playing in Hong Kong. He was in the Scottish Co-Optimists side that became the first northern hemisphere team to reach the final of the world's greatest seven-a-side tournament back in 1980. So, as the tournament gets set to kick-off this weekend, we thought we'd ask the great man to talk about his experiences of playing in Hong Kong.
"The Co-Optimists were invited to take part and represent Scotland and I really fancied playing in such an exotic location as Hong Kong," said Irvine.
"I'd been picked for the Lions tour to South Africa, but that was a month away, so I was cleared to play. It turned into a fantastic experience, playing against so many players from different countries and with different sevens styles, and we reached the final. The only problem for me was that I tore my hamstring quite badly and that stopped me from going on the Lions tour from the start.
"But I never regretted playing in Hong Kong and I'm really looking forward to taking the Lions there for our opening fixture in June. The game against the Barbarians will help to promote the 15-a-side game throughout Asia and will give Hong Kong a different kind of rugby festival to embrace.
"It promises to be another fantastic experience for players, management and fans alike."
The 1980 Hong Kong Sevens was the fifth edition and it was a major coup for the organisers to finally attract a team from the UK and Ireland. As well as Irvine, the Co-Optimists had future Lions John Rutherford, Roger Baird and Jim Calder in their ranks and were representing the home of sevens rugby.
The Co-Optimists didn't disappoint as they beat Western Samoa 16-0 in the quarter-finals before beating Manawatu 18-10 in the semi-finals. That meant a shoot-out in the final with the Fijians, champions in 1977 and 1978. At this point it is probably just as well to outline a few of the cultural differences Irvine and co discovered on their great adventure. Ned Haig may have invented the seven-a-side code in the Scottish Borders, but playing in an international competition in Asia against teams and players many of them had never heard of before was probably a little unsettling to the Co-Optimists.
Shortly after their arrival they had a warm-up session with the Papua New Guinea side. Irvine was stunned when his side conceded four touchdowns to nil, albeit in a game of touch. But the biggest hurdle to overcome was the weather. The Scottish lads were used to playing in the rain, but probably not in a tropical thunderstorm. Over the two days on April 12-13, 1980, the heavens opened above Hong Kong and stayed open!
By the time the final came to be played, the tens of thousands of players, fans, officials and helpers were all equally soaked to the skin. The players were more than ankle deep in water on certain parts of the field and grass was rarely visible. When the referee put the ball down on the half-way line for the kick-off, it floated away.
Irvine's side led early on before Taniela Nayate Ralumu performed what was described as "a blistering high-speed wade" to score a crucial try that led to a 12-8 to the Fijians. "We knew we could do it, boasted Fiji coach Ilaitia Tuisese after the game, "all Fijians know how to swim!"
This weekend round 6 of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Hong Kong on 22-24 March will break broadcast records for an individual Rugby Sevens event. The IRB has announced that the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens will be aired live by 23 broadcasters in 144 countries, a new record for a single round of the Series, outstripping the previous highest in Dubai earlier this season.
Nineteen nations have competed so far on the 2012/13 Series with a further nine to take the stage in Hong Kong, where a 12-team pre-qualifying competition takes place alongside the main 16-team draw, increasing the number of key matches and the appeal for broadcasters.
You can catch all the action on Sky Sports, with an IRB highlights package also broadcast on S4C.