Dubai Rugby Sevens 2018: Dates, times, schedule, nightlife and fancy dress

Your ultimate guide to all the action on and off the pitch

Dubai Rugby Sevens 2018: Dates, times, schedule, nightlife and fancy dress

Love rugby? You’ll love this. The Dubai Rugby Sevens is one of the most popular events on the Dubai calendar (social and sporting) and this year’s event runs from Thursday November 28 to Saturday December 1. The rugby sevens competition was first played in Dubai in the 1970s, but back then it was a lot smaller, with just a group of expats competing at Dubai Exiles RFC. The winners of the first tournament were The Staffordshire Regiment. In 1996 Dubai hosted one of the qualifying rounds of the World Cup Sevens and in 1999 hosted one of the tournaments of the World Rugby Sevens Series, which it has done ever since. It set up shop at The Sevens Stadium in 2008, a huge arena on the Dubai-Al Ain Road just down from Dubai Outlet Mall. It can seat up to 40,000 and isn’t just for sport – Justin Bieber and Duran Duran have played there.

Gates open at 7.30am every day, so you can get there as early as you like. Matches go on until around 9pm each night. Entry is free on Thursday November 29 and is Dhs315 on the other two days. A season pass is Dhs525, and if you have kids under 12 they’ll get in free all weekend, too. There are also plenty of activities to keep kids entertained including circus workshops, bouncy castles, face painting and more.

The tournament itself consists of matches with seven players on each side – compared to 15 in rugby union. Games are played in two seven-minute halves, too, compared to a standard 40-minute rugby union match, so even if you’re not a huge fan, the matches are easy to watch. The Dubai tournament is part of the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Series, which is made up of ten tournaments played around the world, including in Canada and Hong Kong. Last year’s series champions were South Africa, with England the runners up. South Africa also won the Dubai 2017 tournament, beating New Zealand 24-12. Twenty-eight teams will compete this year –15 men’s core sides and 11 women’s core sides – with Zimbabwe’s men and Kenya’s women as the invitational teams. Expect some fierce competition.

It’s time to dig out the unicorn outfit/giant teddy bear suit/Superman costume – one of the most important aspects of the weekend is the creative fancy dress. Thousands of people make a massive effort to dress up, so it’s time to start planning that costume.

Come hungry as there are loads of top places to eat at the event. There will be outlets from  longstanding Irish bar Fibber Magee’s, US burger joint Black Tap, healthy eatery Lime Tree Café and everyone’s favourite Italian chain – PizzaExpress, among others.

If you drive there are 12,000 parking spaces. Getting home isn’t a bother either, as loads of taxis are ready to go, plus you can hop aboard a Big Bus Tour, which will stop at various locations across the city. Lock, Stock & Barrel is even laying on free buses back to the bar in Barsha Heights to carry on the party.
Free (Thu Nov 29), Dhs315 (general admission), Dhs525 (season pass). Thu Nov 29-Sat Dec 1. Daily 7.30am-10pm. The Sevens Stadium Dubai, Dubai-Al Ain Road, (04 321 0008).

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