Dubai Sevens deserves a pat after hitting half century mark

Gary Chapman, President Emirates Group Services and dnata, recounts how the tournament has grown over the years


It truly is an astonishing achievement and one that they should be proud of. And Dubai and the UAE deserves a pat on the back for hosting a top notch rugby event year after year, for a mind-boggling 50 years.

As the country celebrated the 48th National Day, the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens signed off an important landmark - 50 years existence, and still counting.

And those associated with the event, voted the favourite sporting event 17 years in a row and one of three sporting events given a five-star rating by the Dubai Sports Council (DSC), were delighted to see the tournament grow.

"It has been quite some time since a small group of expatriates sat down at the Dubai Exiles and started playing the game of Sevens here in Dubai," Gary Chapman, President Emirates Group Services and dnata, recalled fondly.

"And I think you all know the story, they played on sand back then. The Staffordshire Regiment were the first winners of the Dubai Rugby Sevens back in 1970. And since then, we have seen it grow into this magnificent event that we have here today.

"It's been an incredibly successful story. And the thing about Dubai is that everyone thinks about Dubai as such a young and vibrant city but there is a lot of history and the Dubai Sevens is part of that history," he added.

And Chapman thanked the Government of Dubai for their overwhelming support. "We've had the most wonderful support from the Government of Dubai and from Emirates Airline, the freedom to get on and build it year on year invest and improve it.

"Whilst it's been 50 years, Emirates first got involved in 1987, so we've been involved for quite a while and we invested in new facilities back in 2008.

"This is the 21st World Series that we have hosted and the eighth women's series that we have hosted. Its a good story. We will continue to embrace it," said Chapman.

Qais Al Dhalai, President, Asia Rugby & Secretary General, UAE Rugby Federation, said: "We congratulate ourselves, and all rugby fraternity across the UAE on the occasion of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens 50th anniversary. As hosts, the UAE Rugby Federation is extremely proud to have a close association with, and be an integral part of this auspicious occasion."

"Rugby, as a sport, enjoys strong commitment from the UAE Rugby community. We now see over 118,000 Emirati-children playing rugby, post-inking the historical memorandum of association with the Ministry of Education as part of our highly successful Player Pathway Program."

Meanwhile, Deirdre O'Sullivan, the Women's Series Director, HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, said it came as no surprise that so many accolades have come the Dubai Sevens' way.

"I definitely need to say that it wasn't a surprise to know that you got a five-star accolade for the tournament in Dubai. It constantly is a firm favourite with the team.

"They love coming here. And the level of foreign visitation of fans is testimony to that," said O'Sullivan.

"And to top it all up, how wonderful for 50 years for the Dubai Sevens," she added.

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