x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Stars are not needed but the more the merrier at the Dubai Sevens

Australia's James O’Connor would be a welcome luxury at Dubai Rugby Sevens.

James O'Connor, the former Wallaby, would be welcome to give some help to the Australia sevens team but 'it can't be a publicity stunt' says coach Michael O'Connor. Mark Kolbe / Getty Images
James O'Connor, the former Wallaby, would be welcome to give some help to the Australia sevens team but 'it can't be a publicity stunt' says coach Michael O'Connor. Mark Kolbe / Getty Images

Unlike the Rugby League World Cup, the Dubai Sevens never has been a hard sell.

If a Sonny Bill Williams celebrity/player just so happens to be involved, then whoop-de-do. It is good to see them, but it would not be the be-all and end-all for ticket sales.

The tournament is so entrenched on the UAE calendar that the western expatriate population of Dubai are still sure to decamp to The Sevens for the weekend.

The scaffolding stands are always crammed to capacity, even if most of the time the players competing in the showpiece IRB competition are relatively unknown. The adoration is for the event itself rather than the players involved.

That said, it would still be fun to get a glimpse of James O’Connor here next month.

Michael O’Connor, the Australia sevens coach, says he would happily pick the troubled winger in his team, even though he recently had his Wallaby contract terminated. If the player’s head was in the right place, that is.

“James would have to be genuine about sevens and committed to the harder training, but if he was I’d definitely like him on board,” the coach said at the weekend. “It can’t be a publicity stunt. We have a close-knit team culture which he would have to conform to.”

The Dubai Sevens does not necessarily need that publicity. However, the presence of a player who played a seminal part in the recent British & Irish Lions series would certainly improve the box-office ratings anyway.

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