x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Rugby Sevens history linked to UAE

And as with every one of the last 40 years, rugby fans are guaranteed to witness a small piece of UAE sporting history being made.

In 1970, a group of expatriate rugby players contested a match amid the sand dunes of an emirate still a year away from becoming part of an independent UAE. At the end of the match, Staffordshire Regiment were crowned the first Dubai Rugby Sevens Champions. The beloved tournament has not looked back since.

Forty years on, the event is one of the rugby calender's most important dates, attracting teams from all over the globe and rivalling similar events in Hong Kong and Wellington. This year, trophy-holders New Zealand, Scotland - the birthplace of rugby sevens - and our very own Arabian Gulf team will be among the 16 teams contesting the IRB Sevens World Series. It's also an opportunity for the best local and regional teams of all ages to showcase their skills alongside some of the world's best players.

Most of all, the three-day event is for the fans. It is, alongside the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, horse-racing's Dubai World Cup and golf's Desert Classic, one of the sporting highlights of the year for UAE residents, as well as the hordes that descend on Dubai from neighbouring countries.

Only a handful of spectators watched those 1970 heroes battle it out for that first title. This weekend, 120,000 fans will watch the rugby feast at The Sevens stadium on Al Ain road. And as with every one of the last 40 years, fans are guaranteed to witness a small piece of UAE sporting history being made.