'Dubai still a high profile tournament'
October 24, 2001

The Dubai Sevens tournament next month will maintain a strong international flavour with five first class nations confirmed to play, despite a decision to remove the event from the World Sevens Series this year, organisers said on Tuesday.

Security fears raised by proximity to the Afghanistan war zone led the International Rugby Board (IRB) to scrub Dubai from this year's tournament after several nations voiced concern.

But they have not frightened off New Zealand, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa and Wales, who join Arabian Gulf, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Portugal and Sri Lanka in the Emirates International trophy.

"There is a strong line-up of teams and it should be a first class tournament once again," New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens said. "We are looking forward to going back there to defend the Emirates International Trophy."

The IRB consulted with several unions before dropping the three-day tournament from November 7 to 9 which was to have launched the International Rugby Board's 2001/02 series.

Despite the IRB decision, local teams have had no hesitation in signing up and the organisers said a record 220 matches were scheduled to be played with more than 100 teams registered. The World Sevens Series will now begin the following weekend in South Africa.

Tension has mounted in the Gulf region since the September 11 terror attacks in the United States and the US air war on Afghanistan, with expatriates warned by embassies to keep a low profile. - Sapa

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