x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dubai Sevens can be the gift that keeps on giving for all rugby players

You do not need to have played the game to the level Kevin Yates has to have memories made by the Dubai Sevens, writes Paul Radley.

At age 41, Kevin Yates, right, is heading here for the sixth year in succession next weekend. Jake Badger for The National
At age 41, Kevin Yates, right, is heading here for the sixth year in succession next weekend. Jake Badger for The National

There is only one bad thing about the Dubai Sevens: it renders everything that follows an anticlimax.

The domestic season’s biggest event arrives just under halfway through it. No wonder sides struggle for numbers once it is finished. Sevens week is as close to perfect as it gets for rugby players of any age or standard.

Take Kevin Yates. The prop forward played for Bath and Saracens, two of the UK’s top clubs, played Super 12 rugby and was capped four times – over a span of 10 years – for England.

Having done all that rugby after professionalism may feel like a come down.

Yet he still dusts off his playing boots once a year to play for a charity veterans side in Dubai.

At age 41, he is heading here for the sixth year in succession next weekend. He cannot get enough of it. “The highlight of my year,” he says.

And you do not need to have played the game to the level Yates has to have memories made by the sevens.

The architects, students and fitness instructors of Abu Dhabi Harlequins, for example, will play a light friendly match against the Fijian national team on Sunday night. As you do.

A couple of years ago, Samoa played a touch game against the Dubai College first team as preparation for the world series tournament.

One of the schoolboys, James Capon, gave them the runaround. You reckon any of the boys involved will forget that, ever? No chance.

pradley@thenationl.ae

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