x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Dubai tries to aid Olympic bid

Rugby Union sevens is a step closer to becoming an Olympic sport after the "overwhelming success" of the World Cup in Dubai.

The Sevens World Cup in Dubai proved to be a successful tournament for the men's and women's teams. The IOC were impressed by the diversity of the nations involved.
The Sevens World Cup in Dubai proved to be a successful tournament for the men's and women's teams. The IOC were impressed by the diversity of the nations involved.

DUBAI // Rugby Union sevens is a step closer to becoming an Olympic sport after the "overwhelming success" of the World Cup in Dubai over the weekend. As the celebrations for outstanding victories Wales and Australia on the pitch finally died down on Saturday night, event organisers, the IRB, and hosts, the Arabian Gulf Rugby Football Union (AGRFU), began to suspect they had won a greater victory for rugby worldwide. Andy Cole, the AGRFU chairman, spent yesterday closeted in de-briefs, and said: "We've held an AGRFU meeting and the reaction was 100 per cent positive. The member clubs agreed the event was an overwhelming success and we believe that one of our main aims - to help the IRB get sevens included in the Olympic programme - was well and truly met." Two delegates from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) attended the three-day event and one, Bob Elphinston, told New Zealand's Sunday News he was "very impressed with the organisation, very impressed with the professionalism and passion from the IRB, and very impressed with the tournament". He added: "As a sport it seems very well suited to the Olympics." That is good news for the IRB who pulled out all the stops to make the Dubai event a worthy contender for one of two spots on the 2016 Olympic programme, where rugby faces competition from golf, baseball, softball, squash, karate and roller sports. Almost 80,000 people attended the tournament, which was the first in five World Cup Rugby Sevens to include a women's competition - an integral part of the IRB's Olympic bid. "We have seen the comments from the IOC delegate and it's very positive," said the IRB's head of communications, Dominic Rumbles. "But we are staying focused on our campaign and will continue to work hard." stregoning@thenational.ae