x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

UAE confident of strong bid for 2018 World Cup Sevens bid after 2009 success

The UAE Rugby Federation has started work on the tender process to be submitted by December, confident of doing a better job than Moscow last year and an encore of their 2009 staging.

UAE feel their hosting in 2009 was better compared to the poor attendance in Moscow for the 2013 World Cup Sevens. Randi Sokoloff / The National
UAE feel their hosting in 2009 was better compared to the poor attendance in Moscow for the 2013 World Cup Sevens. Randi Sokoloff / The National

DUBAI // The UAE Rugby Federation (UAERF) intend to bid for the right to stage the 2018 World Cup Sevens in Dubai.

The federation were one of 14 national bodies to signal their “intent to tender” for the competition to the International Rugby Board (IRB) earlier this year.

The IRB’s tender documentation arrived at the federation’s offices this weekend, and UAE officials are working out the feasibility for staging the event.

The UAERF, which took over the running of the sport from the Arabian Gulf union at the end of 2010, believe the city would be an attractive host for the IRB, given the prevailing appetite for sevens.

Dubai successfully staged the World Cup of rugby’s abridged version in 2009, when thousands of supporters travelled to the newly built venue at The Sevens, on the Dubai to Al Ain Road.

The success of that event, as well as the annual Rugby Sevens at the same site, contrasted markedly with the most recent edition of the World Cup.

The crowds who watched the competition last year at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow numbered in the hundreds, rather than thousands.

The UAERF believe the sport’s rulers would want to guard against such a poor advertisement for the format by granting hosting rights to a nation where a love for sevens is already entrenched.

However, the organisers of the World Cup hope to stage the competition in August, when temperatures in the UAE are likely too high to play.

Qais Al Dhalai, the secretary general of the federation, hopes Rugby World Cup Ltd would be amenable to the idea of staging the event during the country’s cooler months.

The bid is in partnership with the Dubai government and Dubai Sports Council, Al Dhalai said. “Although we are a small team of staff, we have big dreams,” he said. “We are working very hard to meet people’s expectations.

“[Moscow] damages the sevens game. If you watched the final, there were only 200 people there sitting in a 40,000-seater stadium.

“So the IRB want to host it in a more appropriate area. We hosted it in 2009, and the people who have expressed an interest in hosting it in 2018 are very big countries. We will do our best.”

Countries have until December 5 – which is, coincidentally, the opening day of the IRB competition at this year’s Dubai Rugby Sevens – to submit bids.

Among the other nations who expressed an intent to place bids are New Zealand, England, Wales, Fiji, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The IRB council will announce the host country in May.

pradley@thenational.ae

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