x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dubai Sevens will be poorer without the host team

The Dubai Sevens has seen the last of the UAE national team for a while and with it goes the chance to see memorable moments like Imad Reyal's try.

UAE's Murray Strang fights for yardage as Kenya defenders try to pull him down during action at the Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens.
UAE's Murray Strang fights for yardage as Kenya defenders try to pull him down during action at the Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens.

The Dubai Rugby Sevens may have seen the last of the UAE national team for a while yet.

From next year, the host nation will have to qualify for the right to play in their home competition, as per a recent International Rugby Board ruling.

With better resourced Asian rugby nations, such as Japan and Hong Kong, also vying for that place, it will be no easy task. It is a realistic possibility the national team could be exiled for some time to come.

Will the standard of competition be poorer from their potential absence? No.

Will the narrative of the tournament be worse for it? Definitely.

The sevens circuit has already become a different place since the game was accepted into the Olympic movement two years ago. All the elite nations now offer full-time sevens contracts, and their leading players have taken to professionalism swiftly.

As such, the stories the top players can tell are becoming paler.

New Zealand's finest, for example, can tell you what low carbohydrate lunch they had, and how long they slept before afternoon training. Contrast that with the life the UAE players have beyond the whitewash.

When Imad Reyal returned to work on Sunday, he could have regaled the other workers in his IT department with the one about when he conned the whole Samoan defence with an outrageous dummy on his way to scoring one of the tries of the tournament.

 

pradley@thenational.ae