Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens 2018: What to watch and when on Thursday
Paul Radley gives you the lowdown on the games to watch on Day 1 of the three-day tournament at The Sevens, Dubai
Thursday - What to watch and when
1.20pm, Pitch 5, International Vets - Joining Jack v Moscow Dragons
After six years of trying, the former rugby league stars of Joining Jack proved they had cracked the other oval-ball code, when they won the International Vets tournament for the first time 12 months ago.
As always, they will borrow heavily from Wigan Warriors, with Andy Farrell, Pat Richards and Kris Radlinski set to lead their title defence.
2.20pm, Pitch 5, International Invitational – Speranza 22 v French Military Sevens
Speranza 22, a side set up in the memory of the former Abu Dhabi Harlequins player Marco Speranza, who died in an air crash in 2013, provided one of the all-time great sevens moments when they took the International Invitational title last year.
They are back to defend their title with another powerful squad – so much so that one of their players was elevated to the full New Zealand sevens team last week when Kurt Baker suffered a calf injury.
3.40pm, Pitch 7, Gulf Men’s League – Dubai Hurricanes v Bahrain
Bahrain are currently blazing a trail through the XVs game in West Asia, and will be hoping to upset the established order in the abridged format, too.
They are up first against a Hurricanes side who have spent too long away from the medals at the Sevens, but who now have Saki Naisau, arguably the outstanding sevens player in the region, in their ranks.
6.59pm, Pitch 1, Women’s World Series – Australia v United States
A repeat of last year’s final, when Australia beat the US to reclaim from New Zealand the Dubai Rugby Sevens title they had won two years earlier.
The Americans announced themselves as a force to be reckoned with in that tournament, as they beat New Zealand in the final, and arrive in Dubai second on the series ladder, having been runners up in their home competition last month.
7.45pm, Pitch 1, Women’s World Series – New Zealand v Ireland
New Zealand arrive in Dubai holding the lead in the six-leg series, having won the opening tournament in the United States in October.
Portia Woodman, the winger who scored 10 tries in that tournament, is absent from the trip to the UAE due to injury, but the Black Ferns will still be title contenders.
Updated: November 29, 2018 02:14 PM