x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Union gets Emirates to pitch in for The Sevens

For the seven Dubai sides, playing at home carries almost as much of a financial burden as flying to play fixtures abroad, given the cost of hiring pitches at The Sevens.

The term "home advantage" has a skewed meaning for many UAE rugby clubs. For the seven Dubai sides, playing at home carries almost as much of a financial burden as flying to play fixtures abroad, given the cost of hiring pitches at The Sevens.

It was not meant to be that way. The Arabian Gulf won the bid for 2009 Rugby Sevens World Cup on the back of the legacy the new ground would provide for clubs here.

But, until now, the main residue of playing at The Sevens has been a deficit in club accounts.

Some have managed the strain better than others. The Dubai Hurricanes have had their pitch hire costs underwritten by their title sponsors, Emirates, the owners of The Sevens.

But the Dubai Dragons were the first club to move away when they secured a deal to play at the Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence.

With a clutch of the remaining clubs also scouting around for alternative options, The Sevens was in danger of pricing itself out of the market.

However, this week the UAE Rugby Association made its first significant contribution since coming into being at the start of this season, by negotiating a deal with Emirates.

Thanks to the UAE RA's intervention, the clubs will now be afforded subsidised rates for 60 competitive matches and 30 training sessions between them over the course of next season. Clubs will still be a long way from turning a profit, but the ground deal is at least a step in the right direction.