Star-spotting at Dubai Rugby Sevens

Columnist Tom Bushell keeps an eye out for Bradley Wiggins

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It’s Dubai Rugby Sevens time!

The action kicks off at The Sevens stadium on Thursday November 29: there’ll be plenty of rugby to watch, activities to get involved with and famous faces to spot. First up, keep an eye out for British cyclist Bradley Wiggins, who’ll be supporting the Joining Jack side.

Talking of Joining Jack, the team is packed with former pros. Former Wigan Warriors player Andy Johnson is the man behind the team, and he’ll have some famous faces alongside him. Former Wallabies captain George Gregan will also be floating around, not to mention the stars battling it out on the pitch.

Some quick-fire Dubai Sevens facts for you: England have won the tournament for the past two years. In this century, England and New Zealand have the most wins, both with four, while South Africa have three.

Elsewhere, the UAE national football team, as we all know, had a fantastic London 2012 campaign. It’s a golden generation for the side, with a heap of young talent helping the UAE climb the world rankings. They are now up to 109th in the world – only nine spots behind Northern Ireland. Yet their sparkling form hasn’t attracted more supporters: just 300 fans watched their recent win against Estonia, who are 84th in the world. Compare that to the 12,000-plus supporters that saw Northern Ireland last week.

More than 300 people were at Barasti watching the north London derby last Saturday: I asked these fans why they didn’t go to see live football in the UAE. The response: they were unaware of the matches, and the kick-off times were inconvenient. It’s true. It’s hard to keep up with the fixtures, and a kick-off at 4.45pm on a Monday afternoon isn’t going to get thousands through the gates.
Tom Bushell hosts Sport On 7 on City 7 TV (Mon 8pm) and is Arabian Radio Network’s head of sport.

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