After over 700 days away, the 7s finally returned to The Sevens Stadium last weekend.
Over 80,000 people came through the gates on December 2-4th, and while much had changed, many things remained the same. World-class rugby 7s action on Pitch One & Two as South Africa and Australia took the gold medals in epic encounters.
The famous Emirates Dubai 7s trophy was presented by the UAE Rugby Federation President Sheikh Mohammed bin Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum.
The Land Rover stand shook as the crowds sang and danced, as the Emirates Dubai 7s has always been famous for. As the sun went down on Friday and Saturday evenings, there was an outpouring of joy from all in attendance to see the return of the largest Sports & Entertainment festival in the Middle East.
Thousands of rugby fans were treated with a low-level flypast above The Sevens Stadium with the Emirates A380, emblazoned with the unique ‘United Arab Emirates 50’ design on both sides of the aircraft marking the Golden anniversary the UAE.
Taking off from Dubai International Airport, the Emirates A380 made its approach above the stadium to wow the crowds for the flypast at 1540hrs, cruising by at a gentle speed and an altitude of just 500 feet. Commanding the Emirates A380 was UAE National Captain Mubarak Al Mheiri, supported by Captain Christopher Gauci and First Officer Tom Mayall.
While the rugby 7s action stayed the same, the addition of ‘Beats on 2’ headlined by James Haskell had the festival site abuzz all weekend.
As the rugby finished on Friday evening, Haskell opened the Frequency on 8 stage for Grammy-nominated duo Disclosure. Thousands of sports fans turned dancers flooded Pitch 8 for an audio and visual experience that had not been seen at the Emirates Dubai 7s before.
On Saturday evening, as the fireworks lit up the desert sky, the Rugby Rocks stage reopened again, with Red Not Chilli Peppers bringing the epic weekend of entertainment to a close.
Australia and South Africa lifted the trophies on Pitch One, but the winning feeling was not limited there. With over 30 divisions of play across three sports, sides from across the gulf and the world battled it out for glory.
With teams winning in the Youth Sports divisions as young as 11 years old and, of course, the International Vets seeing stars of yesteryear, the Emirates Dubai 7s once again was at the centre of the Dubai and global sporting community.
Tournament Director Tom Burwell said of the weekend ‘We are inspired by what we have seen this weekend. The best players in the world, three live music stages, new visual experiences, and a380 Emirates Flyover, and so much more. The Emirates Dubai 7s is very much back and in the hearts of all who attended this weekend. It was fantastic to see
‘The Emirates Dubai 7s is about so much more than just what takes place on Pitch One. It’s about the young and the old; it's about all three of our sports, be it on pitch, oval or court. It’s about community and sharing experiences about people from all over the world.’
‘A huge thank you to all our government stakeholders, UAERF and partners for their support in being able to deliver this unique event after a challenging two years’
UAE Rugby Federation Secretary General Mohamed Sultan Al Zaabi commented “We are delighted to witness a massive crowd of nearly 80,000 players, referees, coaches, administrators and fans attending the Emirates Dubai 7s over the last weekend”
“The UAE and in particular Dubai is once again showcasing a high-class delivery of a mega rugby event with an uplifted experience and we will continue to feature various rugby events in cooperation with our other partners”
The Emirates Dubai 7s returns in 2022 on 1-3rd December with more sport and experiences.
Emirates’ connection to the game of rugby goes back to 1987 when the airline became the Emirates Dubai 7s Official Sponsor. Since then, Emirates has helped elevate the profile of the sport of rugby in the UAE and around the world, working locally with partners like UAERF and globally with World Rugby and others to promote the sport and engage with rugby fans and players.