x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

An inviting chance to monitor UAE's progress at Dubai Sevens

Away from the prying eyes which are trained on the premier competition at The Sevens, a raft of Emirati players will be given their heads via two development teams.

It feels odd to be heading into Dubai Sevens week with a gaping hole where one of the regular storylines should be.

For the first time, there will be no home representation in the world series competition.

The IRB took away the UAE's automatic qualification berth, and told them to prove they were worthy of a place via the Asian Sevens Series.

They were not up to it, so the country's leading players will be playing for their club teams in the Gulf Men's League instead.

They can still make Pitch One: if they reach the Saturday final they will be playing in front of 40,000-plus fans on the main stage.

Looked at from another point of view, though, there will actually be greater home involvement than ever before next weekend.

Away from the prying eyes which are trained on the premier competition at The Sevens, a raft of Emirati players will be given their heads via two development teams.

The senior side will play in the International Invitational - the one below the world series. The squad will comprise six Emiratis, and be bolstered by the guest appearance of two Durban Sharks academy players, who will arrive at the start of the week.

It is a far cry from 2005, when the first Emirati side entered the lowest strata of competition, the Local Social.

Playing in a competition that is awash with some of the emerging players in the world game, it will be a significant examination of how far these novice nationals have come.

pradley@thenational.ae

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