“It does not feel like Delhi!” exclaimed a city-based sports lover as he entered the Delhi University stadium on the opening day of the Commonwealth Games rugby sevens competition here on Monday.
The ground, the stands, the music and the environs — all made it a great venue for an action-packed sport like rugby as the sparse crowd enjoyed the game in the hot afternoon.
The volunteers at the venue insisted that all the tickets had been sold out.
Where were the spectators then?
The empty stands, however, did not affect the level of competition as nine of the top 12 teams in the world along with seven others gave their best in the quest for a podium finish.
According to the players of various sides, the ground was “top quality.”
South Africa's Paul Delport hugely appreciated the conditions after his team's first match against Tonga in the morning.
“It is a fantastic pitch to play on. It is not too hot at the moment, so it is great,” he said.
Even as the heat increased with the progress of the day, it did not trouble the players because of the strong breeze.
“Our preparation has been good and we have been training in heat chambers to help us get used to the heat. We have been here for 10 days,” said England captain Ben Gollings, while showering praises on the stadium.
Lee Williams of Wales was delighted to find “an ideal playing surface” in his side's 56-7 victory over host India.
He hoped that India would develop its skills with time.
“They are a developing rugby nation and in a few years they will be up there. We need to start respecting the lesser teams a little more,” said Williams.
A member of the home team, Amit Lochab, was thrilled after his first experience of playing in a big event. “It was fantastic, an amazing moment,” he said.
New Zealand, eyeing its fourth consecutive title, however, got distracted when hundreds of kites flew around over the field during its morning session match against Canada.
Keywords: Commonwealth Games