Dubai Rugby Sevens 2019: the essential guide

Get the lowdown on this year's top sports event

Dubai Rugby Sevens 2019: the essential guide

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 December 5 to Saturday December 7.

This year is the Dubai tournament’s 50th anniversary – so it’s going to be huge. 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 starts at Dhs400 on Friday and Dhs300 on Saturday. 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. The game is even now recognised as an Olympic sport after making its debut in the 2016 Summer Olympics. Last year’s tournament was won by New Zealand, followed by the US. England finished in third, and Australia were fifth. The leading try-scorer was Argentina’s Marcos Moroni. It was a double victory for New Zealand in 2018, too, as the women’s team also took home the spoils ahead of Canada an Australia. Who will win this year? Expect some fierce competition.

It’s time to dig out the costumes – 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. This year there’s a ’70s theme (to celebrate the first running of the event) so find your smartest flares.

Come hungry as there are loads of top places to eat in the Rugby Village from Fibber Magees and Black Tap to Costa and The Roost.

Not a huge rugby fan? Fret not. On Friday December 6, Kylie Minogue will be taking to the stage for a top night of hits to celebrate one of the world’s oldest annual rugby tournaments. Having sold 80 million albums worldwide in a career that spans more than 30 years (ever since leaving Aussie soap Neighbours back in the ’80s), you can expect to hear hit after hit after hit from Kylie – from Spinnin’ Around, Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, The Loco-Motion, Especially For You, 2 Hearts and loads more. Tickets start at Dhs400 for the entire day, which includes all of the rugby action from the tournament as well as the after-show concert. Throughout the weekend there will also be a Freddy Mercury tribute act.

If you drive there are 12,000 parking spaces. Getting home isn’t a bother either, as loads of taxis are ready to go.

Ready for the Dubai Rugby Sevens? We'll see you there.
Thu Dec 5: free, Fri Dec 6: Dhs400 (in advance), Dhs500 (on the door), Sat Dec 7: Dhs300 (in advance), Dhs400 (on the door). Season: Dhs600. The Sevens Stadium Dubai, Dubai-Al Ain Road, (04 321 0008).

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