Sevens Series set for kick off in Dubai
December 4, 2002

The fourth International Rugby Board Sevens season is set for a glittering launch in the Middle East this weekend when 16 of the world's top rugby nations battle for supremacy at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby 7's.

All the main ingredients have now been added for a successful tournament and the finishing touches are being made to the giant 15,000-seater stadium that has been specially constructed at the Dubai Exiles Rugby Club on the outskirts of the city.

World Champions New Zealand have arrived in Dubai as overwhelming favourites for their fourth successive Emirates International Trophy, but their dominance faces its biggest test yet with the likes of Fiji, England and South Africa all capable of launching their seasons with the silverware.

"We are in for a weekend to remember," said Gary Chapman, Chief Director Support and Development, Emirates Airline. "It's a big honour to be selected once again as the city to launch the IRB Sevens season and we will endeavour to ensure Dubai continues to set the standards for the other rounds to follow."

The three-day event kicks off Thursday at 8.40am with a host of action from the various social, Gulf, veterans, ladies and youth competitions which have been the backbone of the event since its humble inception in 1969. The matches will provide an ideal taster for what is to the come the following day, when the world's biggest rugby nations from six continents begin their quest for one of the game's most sought after prizes.

The Arabian Gulf take their place in the main draw for the third time, while Italy and France return to the Dubai fold after an absence of several seasons. Namibia will be making their Dubai debut.

Action will continue throughout the Eid weekend, climaxing in the grand final on Pitch One at 8.15pm on Saturday. This will be followed by the annual Rugby Rock, which this year features UK Band Angels who have emerged as the world's top Robbie Williams tribute act.

Record numbers of tickets have been purchased in advanced this year and the advice for people without tickets is to arrive at the ground early. Season tickets, which include all three days and Rugby Rock, are priced at Dhs120. Friday entry is Dhs50 and Saturday tickets are Dhs100, which includes Rugby Rock. Children under 12 get in for free all weekend. Thursday entry is free.

The picture shows the Emirates International Trophy being held by (from
left): Colin Hillman (Wales), Lau Lau (Fiji), Joe Lydon (England), Tony Ward
(New Zealand), Chester Williams (South Africa), Mark Andre (Kenya), Asanga
(Sri Lanka), Darryl Weir (Arabian Gulf).

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