Peter FitzSimons and David Duckham serve up a day to remember
Over 700 rugby enthusiasts were treated to an afternoon of anecdotes and entertainment as another Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens Long Lunch kicked off the countdown to this year's tournament.
Former rugby internationals Peter FitzSimons and David Duckham proved to be hugely popular as they had the audience at the Grand Hyatt's Baniyas Ballroom rolling with laughter.
And as usual, the afternoon, which was hosted by television presenter Rob McCaffrey, also served up a great collection of prizes and auction items, all with the aim of raising money for charity.
Duckham was first to take the stage and kept the audience enthralled with stories of his playing days as well as humorous encounters with several legends of the game. The former winger pulled on an England jersey a total of 36 times and was known for his speed, strength and highly effective sidestepping and was awarded an MBE for his services to rugby in 1977.
"I have only been in Dubai once before but that was 31 years ago so I don't recognise it at all but it's wonderful to be back and to be a part of such a wonderful occasion," said Duckham.
The animated FitzSimons, meanwhile described the event as a "carnival of cauliflower ears" and echoed Duckham's excitement about being a part of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens Long Lunch.
"It's one of those events that I have been hearing about for years as word of it has spread and it is fascinating just to see it, let alone actually be able to speak at it," said the former Australian international whose anecdotes and impressions, complete with sound effects and dramatics had the audience roaring.
Apart from representing his country on the rugby field, FitzSimons is a well-known sports columnist, has written 18 books, speaks four languages, has interviewed a massive range of personalities, from George Bush and Sir Edmund Hillary to Jodie Foster, and presents both TV and radio shows. By the end of the afternoon's proceedings, the Long Lunch had helped to raise a remarkable AED 107,000 for the PRA (Professional Rugby Players Association) and Wooden Spoon (supporting mentally, physically and socially disadvantaged children and young people) charities.
For more information on the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, which will take place at Emirates' new purpose-built venue on the Al Ain Road from November 27-29, log on to www.dubairugby7s.com