I am lucky enough to live in the UAE, where every year the Emirates World Sevens Series kicks off in Dubai.

The tournament is a fantastic experience for both fans and players. Here is a little flavour of what makes Dubai 7s so great!

One big venue

Abu Dhabi Harlequins Vets

Dubai has various 7s, 10s and netball tournaments for both men and women. All take place at the same venue, unlike other legs of the World Series. This is a huge part of what makes the tournament unique.

Jebel Ali Dragons and Dubai Hurricanes

Local rugby clubs often enter teams in several competitions. Some clubs have hundreds of members at the event. There are also minor international competitions, so teams like Poland and Zimbabwe take part too.

Zimbabwe warming up

Player availability

Ace autograph hunter Nicholas Morrell being presented with a signed Fiji shirt.

Because all the tournaments take place side by side, there is an amazing opportunity to meet the world’s best players.

Proud South Africans Daniel and Adri Becker with Chris Dry of the Blitzbokke

Players often come outside the main stadium to see the fans when they have time before their next game.

Rugby League fanboy Dave Connor with Joining Jack’s Jason Robinson

Stuff for the kids

Inside the kids zone

There are some amazing facilities around the Sevens. A lot of thought has been given to making sure smaller fans have plenty to do away from the rugby.

The high ball challenge

Close to the action

Scotland Men warming up

How many sporting events can boast the best players in the world and yet allow fans right up to the side of the pitch?

Portia Woodman, Women’s XV’s World Player of the Year, up close

This year some of the best Women’s teams lost in the Quarterfinals. As a result, matches between New Zealand, England, France and Spain took place on the outside pitches.

England v France, Women’s 5th place Semi-Final

The main stadium doesn’t have designated seating. Every stand has great views, or you can go pitch side to see the players close up.

The view from the DHL stand

Amazing rugby

Congratulations to the South African Men’s and Australian Women’s teams for their Dubai 7s victories this year. There were some spectacular tries, many of them in the minor competitions away from the main stadium.

Fun in the stands

Abu Dhabi Harlequins players late on Saturday

The party in the stands is always great fun. This year was no different.

Fans in Dnata Travel stand

Party atmosphere 

Dinosaurs

Like a lot of sevens tournaments, Dubai is a great occasion for fancy dress. This year did not disappoint!

Swans

Charity teams

Scottish Crusaders charity team

Many of the teams at Dubai 7s are raising money and awareness for charity. I would like to mention just a handful of them here. The Conquistadors from Abu Dhabi are supporting the Mike Ballard Foundation. Mike is my coach at Abu Dhabi Harlequins and a really inspiring person. Speranza 22 is a charity set up in memory of former Abu Dhabi Harlequin Marco Speranza. They support many good causes. I also met Steve from the Scottish Crusaders team, who raise money for cancer research. All their players have either had cancer themselves or helped people close to them cope with this awful disease.

Some of the more famous charity teams include J9, who raise money for research into motor neurone disease. CNCF support the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation. Joining Jack raise money for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. There are so many fantastic efforts being made within the rugby community on behalf of worthy causes.

And finally, 2018

I would encourage anyone who has the chance to visit the Dubai 7s next year. It is a unique and wonderful experience you will remember forever.

Author: Daniel Pugsley

I am a 30 year old from Yorkshire, England. I have played social rugby for 25 years in England, Japan, Italy, Poland and the UAE. I play for Abu Dhabi Harlequins 3rds and coach the U6s where my daughter plays. I teach English as a foreign language, which explains why I’ve lived in so many places. I am new to sports writing, but why should the Quins lads be the only ones to suffer my ramblings!

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