DUBAI, UAE, 30 September 2010 – The Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens Long Lunch once again proved to be a resounding success with rugby legends Jake White and Sean Fitzpatrick keeping the 750-strong audience enthralled.
The charity event marks the countdown to the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens which will take place from December 2-4 at The Sevens venue.
White spoke about his experiences coaching the South African rugby team – a job considered to be one of the toughest in sport, and outlined exactly what it takes to win the greatest prize in rugby.
“Experience is the key element to winning the World Cup. Between 2004 and 2007, we went from being a team with 175 caps between us to 649 caps and by the time we reached the World Cup, were the most capped Bok team of all time,” he said.
“We were also much bigger and physically stronger and were a team that had gone from being bullied on the field to standing up and being counted in 2007,” he added.
Other key elements of the Springbok side’s success, he said, were loyalty, innovation and a sense of history – some of which, he pointed out, may just be lacking in the current South African team.
White led the Springbok team from being sixth-ranked no-hopers to becoming world champions at the 2007 World Cup. He was twice voted IRB International coach of the year – in the 2004 and 2007, both years his Springbok side also won the IRB Team of the Year award.
Fitzpatrick was next to the podium and kept the audience entertained with stories of growing up as “a little fat kid”.
“My dad was an All Black and all he said to me was that I should play a team sport and make sure I enjoy it,” explained the former captain. “He was a very clever man, my dad, because in New Zealand in the 60s and 70s, the only team sport around was rugby!”
The New Zealander went on to talk about the All Black ethos and exactly what it means to play in the All Black jersey. Having played in more Tests for the country than any other player, he certainly has the experience to back him up.
Fitzpatrick boasted a magnificent international career which began with his debut for the All Blacks in 1986. He was appointed New Zealand captain in 1992 and played 128 games in the All Black jersey, including a record 92 Tests.
Speaking about the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, Fitzpatrick said: “I came to the tournament a few years ago and it was such a fantastic event, I went home and told my wife we had to bring the kids over. It really is something special.” The former All Black expressed his excitement over rugby sevens’ inclusion in the Olympic programme for 2016, saying it was a ‘massive boost’ for the sport internationally.
This year’s Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens Long Lunch supported three worthy causes: the locally-based Senses, Dan’s Fund for Burns (which offers practical help to burns survivors) and Wooden Spoon (supporting mentally, physically and socially disadvantaged children and young people).
Tickets for the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens go on sale next Monday, October 4 at the following outlets. Costa outlets: Mall of the Emirates, JBR, Dubai Mall (Galleria & Ice Rink), Mirdiff City Centre, Arabian Ranches, Festival City (Atrium & Square), Al Wahda Mall (Abu Dhabi); MMI outlets: Mall of the Emirates, Ibn Battuta Mall, Al Wasl Rd, Sheikh Zayed Rd, Motor City, Al Hamra Cellar (RAK); Spinneys: Umm Suqeim; Emirates HQ; Dnata Travel Centre (Sheikh Zayed Rd); 7he Sevens and ITP Publishing Group Building (Building Number 14), Dubai Media City. Remember you must have an alcohol licence to enter any MMI outlet. Children under 12 gain free general admission.
Tickets will also be available online through www.dubairugby7s.com or by calling Ticketline on 800 4669 (international customers call +971 4 4443459).
Reserved seating and corporate hospitality packages are currently available on www.dubairugby7s.com.