From what started 49 years ago with a small group of British expats at Dubai Exiles RFC, the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens has grown into one of the world’s premier Sevens events.
Back in 1970, just a few players and a handful of fans scattered along the touchline. The Staffordshire Regiment were the first ever Dubai Rugby Sevens champions.
Throughout the 70s, new innovations made the tournament bigger and better every year. In 1987, the association with Emirates Airline began and by 1996 Dubai hosted a qualifying round of the World Cup Sevens. Not bad going!
In 1999, Dubai hosted a leg of the International Rugby Board's Sevens World Series, now the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and since then the tournament has BOOMED! By 2006, with a 32,000 capacity at the Al Awir venue, the Dubai Rugby Sevens had officially tripled in size since 2001. In 2008 the event moved to the Emirates' purpose-built venue, The Sevens Stadium and it just kept on growing and growing and now sees over 100,000 fans walk through the gates during the event!
In 2012, Dubai hosted the first event of the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series, won by New Zealand.
The Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens is the longest running sports event in the Middle East, and is well established as Dubai's biggest sporting event of the year, voted Dubai's 'Favourite Sporting Event' at the What's On Awards for 15 of the last 16 years
As well as drawing in record-breaking crowds, broadcasting the event has become huge. The Dubai Sevens is broadcast to bigger global audiences every year, proof of just how popular sevens rugby has become. In 2016, Dubai recorded over 1,100 broadcast hours for both the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and the HSBC World Rugby Women Sevens Series.
Improvements every year both on and off the pitch - including entertainment, a great family experience, and a Rugby Village that just keeps on getting bigger and better - means the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens looks set to stay one of the Middle East's top sporting and social events. We think you’ll agree we’ve come a long way since the early days. See you in 2018 for another epic Dubai Sevens!