The start of the IRB Sevens World Series is only 10 days away and preparations in Dubai are in full swing. Not only will the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens be celebrating its 40th anniversary, but also the largest number of participants to date will be in attendance – marking the stature and size of the tournament.
The start of the IRB Sevens World Series is only 10 days away and preparations in Dubai are in full swing.
Not only will the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens be celebrating its 40th anniversary, but also the largest number of participants to date will be in attendance – marking the stature and size of the tournament.
Apart from the 16 international teams taking part in the first leg of the IRB circuit in Dubai, an incredible 161 teams will take to the pitches at the purpose built venue, The Sevens, from December 3-5.
“The tournament is at its maximum with more teams than ever before taking part,” said Jim Fitzsimons, General Manager of The Sevens & Tournament Rugby Services Manager.
“I think this is what makes this tournament so unique – not only do you have the best rugby sevens stars in the world taking part but also thousands of others of varying levels of expertise and limitless enthusiasm for the event. It’s a true festival of the sport,” added Fitzsimons.
There will be 11 different tournaments taking place on the surrounding pitches at The Sevens which played host to the inaugural women's Rugby World Cup Sevens earlier this year in March. In running with that theme, of particular note at this year’s tournament is the number of international women’s teams taking part.
“There are 10 international women's sides and 12 club sides, so 22 in total which is very exciting to see,” said Fitzsimons.
“I’m sure we will see an exceptional level of women’s rugby with many of the international women’s sides made up of players who took part in the Rugby World Cup Sevens earlier this year,” he added.
USA women out to take the title
The women’s team travelling the furthest to get to Dubai will be the USA side who will be competing in the International Invitation women’s tournament.Leading the side in Dubai will be captain Ines Rodriguez who was part of the Rugby World Cup Sevens squad who reached the semi-finals earlier this year but will be playing in her first Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens.
“I have been selected to go to the Dubai Sevens three times but each time was injured directly before the trip. Hopefully, this year will bring better luck,” said Rodriguez, who was first drawn to rugby after being invited to watch a men’s match at the University of Pennsylvania where she was studying at the time.
“I was invited to see a men’s game and since it was so exciting to watch I decided to see if there was a women’s team,” she explained.
Asked about the competition in Dubai, where her side will be up against the likes of international sides from Russia, Kenya, France and the home team Arabian Gulf, Rodriguez reckoned: “It appears that the competition will be very good this year. Each year the competition seems to improve,” she said, confidently pointing to her own team as one of the favourites.
“Dubai is a great location for the tournament. It’s a really great tourist destination. Also, the atmosphere at the stadium makes it a place that people would like to come back to year after year,” added Rodriguez.