x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Dubai Rugby Sevens: Quality is guaranteed when qualification is not

UAE will be extra motivated to perform better in smaller Sevens tournaments to qualify for bigger events, which will keep quality players in squad.

Unlike last year, the UAE will not compete in this year's Dubai Sevens, which may be a good thing in the long term, accourding to our columnist. Mike Young / The National
Unlike last year, the UAE will not compete in this year's Dubai Sevens, which may be a good thing in the long term, accourding to our columnist. Mike Young / The National

No date has been fixed for the UAE's return to the Dubai Rugby Sevens. The national team are certainly out of November's showpiece after the IRB ratified their decision to exclude the hosts from their own event on the grounds they are not good enough to play in it.

With the continuing transition towards Emiratising the national team, with a view to future Olympic participation, it is fair to assume the exile from the annual tournament may be a long one.

So what has been lost?

Realistically, not much. The World Series tournament at the Sevens will have far less colour, as it will now be the sole preserve of a bunch of professionals, rather than the odd IT professional, or chartered surveyor or banker.

But the standard of competition will be better. There was a time not long back when worthy players opted out of playing for the home side at the Dubai Sevens, as it often assured hefty beatings in front of thousands of people.

A guaranteed place was never a guarantee of genuine quality.

Birthrights can often inhibit development. Which is why the new qualification system could work to the benefit of UAE rugby. Players heading to Borneo this weekend for the opening leg of the Asian Sevens Series are motivated by the chance of qualifying to play in the Hong Kong Sevens, the short format's premier event.

It is the reason why players of the standard of Renier Els et al are committed to sevens. If more like him stick with it, this short-term loss could be a long-term gain.

pradley@thenational.ae

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