The Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens got off to a flying start in September with over 600 passionate rugby fans enjoying the popular 'Long Lunch', which also raised almost Dhs 140,000 for charity.
Chris 'Buddha' Handy and Gareth 'Cooch' Chilcott - regarded as being among the world's leading speakers on the rugby circuit - turned on a highly entertaining afternoon of rugby tales in front of a packed audience at the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel.
The Long Lunch has only been going for three years but has quickly become an informal season opener – the moment when Dubai's social whirl marks its return after the absences of summer.
It's the time when the Dubai Rugby Sevens – regarded as the biggest sporting and social event in the Middle East – appears on the horizon.
Gareth Chilcott said: "It's great to come to Dubai, it's one of my favourite places in the world." "This year will be my twelfth Dubai Rugby Sevens and I love coming here. The Dubai Rugby Sevens is always magnificent and the Long Lunch is always a wonderful build-up to this world-class event."
Chris Handy added: "The Dubai Rugby Sevens celebrates the real feeling of what rugby is truly all about."
A highlight of the event was the surprise inclusion of a group of local rugby players - called the 'Hairy Fairies' - who dressed up in tutus and graced the audience with their very own version of Swan Lake.
"Once again the Long Lunch exceeded all expectations and provided a great warm up to what will be another memorable Dubai Rugby Sevens," said Gary Chapman, President Group Services and Dnata, Emirates Group.
"We were once again delighted with the positive response from the local rugby community who not only had an enjoyable time, but also raised much needed funds for worthy charities."
Proceeds from the Long Lunch, sponsored by Emirates Airline and MMI, will once again be distributed to the PRA Benevolent Fund, a charity which provides financial support to professional players forced to retire through injury or illness and the Wooden Spoon Society, a rugby charity supporting disadvantaged children and young people