DUBAI, UAE: The rugby sevens season kicked off in style today with Emirates Airline Rugby Long Lunch. The event traditionally kicks off the build-up to the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens which this year takes place 29 November to 1 December, 2012.
The Emirates Airline Rugby Long Lunch once again proved to be a resounding success with former New Zealand star, Justin Marshall, and ex-British Lion, Martin Bayfield, entertaining the 740 strong audience with revealing rugby stories, anecdotes and opinions.
With 81 caps and a decade at the forefront of one of the greatest teams in rugby, Marshall is a rugby legend. He is the All Blacks most capped Test half-back and is ranked in the top ten of all-time New Zealand try scorers. His professional career spanned 16 years and 417 first class games and his services to the game were recognised in 2005 when he became a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Marshall talked about the highlights of his career including his first international cap in 1995 and beating South Africa at home in 1996. He also talked about the turning point in his career in 1999 when he was benched for the World Cup semi-final, a move that made him reevaluate how he viewed the game.
Martin Bayfield has a media career ranging from the Daily Telegraph and BBC Radio 5 Live to Harry Potter films. He is one of the most popular, funny and talented sports personalities on the after dinner circuit and he certainly did not disappoint at the Emirates Airline Rugby Long Lunch.
The 6’ 10” former Policeman talked about earning his first England cap, news that was given to him on the training field in Fiji with a punch to the jaw, and about the significance of beating South Africa in 1994, just after Nelson Mandela had been named President of South Africa.