Posted by: englishdubai | March 8, 2009

Sevens Reprise

Aside from the wash out a couple of years ago Rugby Sevens is a firecracker of a day out. This year with little pomp or ceremony the Rugby World Cups Sevens came to Dubai. I have been looking forward to this for sometime. I watched the opening two days on the television and was pleased to see England looking very strong with the return of the “gas man” Tom Varndell I thought England were in with a real shout of winning.

An easy taxi ride out to the sevens ground and we sat in the BP stand (which gets shaded in the late afternoon) and watched England warm up for their quarter final match against Samoa.

Sadly however it was not the day for the big guns. I was sat with a whole lot of South African supporters and when England went out in a nail biter “golden point” extra time match to Samoa I got loads. However I made sure to make them realise they were far from the best team when they lost to Argentina in another closely contested match. A quick sharing of some Biltong I brought with me and a couple of ice cold beers meant we were all soon firm friends.

However the real upset of the Quarter finals was Wales beating New Zealand in a real battle of attrition. The Wales tackling was excellent and the breakaway try at the end sealed an amazing win. Here Tom Isaac’s of Wales goes in for the winner. They celebrated like they had won the tournament (which they did in emphatic style later in the day)

The real fairy tale of the day was Kenya. Having had some good form going into the tournament they were tipped to do reasonably well. In the pool matches they were routed by England but came into their own in the knock out stages of the tournament. With a fantastic 26-7 win over Fiji their supporters went wild and started an enormous “conga” around the ground.  Argentina proved to be too good for them in the Semi-Finals but they had done enough to win the hearts of the crowd yesterday. Here are Kenyan team having a huddle following their semi-final match and they got the biggest cheer of the day:

What a great day for the sport of Rugby Sevens. You would have got amazing odds that the four semi-finalists would have been Wales, Kenya, Argentina and Samoa. And probably even bigger odds for Wales to win the whole thing. Congratulations to Wales in showing a never say die spirit the whole day.

With the possibility of Rugby Sevens becoming named an Olympic sport later this year it could not have been a better advertisement for the game. It is clear how the gap has narrowed between the traditional countries to the lesser fancied sides. On this day, as well it was the inaugural Sevens World Cup for the Ladies. An excellent win for Australia over New Zealand made a strong case for its inclusion in the Olympics too.

A fantastic day, but the ground was not full. A combination of Le Crunch and the four big teams being knocked out earlier took its toll on the spectator numbers for the latter part of the tournament. Still the organisers can be proud – easy to get transport and no major queues for anything. I wish other events in Dubai had the same degree of organisation.


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