England 7s have audience with Sheikh Ahmed
December 2, 2003

While the world's top rugby nations put the finishing touches to their bids to win the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby 7s this weekend, the action kicks off tomorrow (Wednesday) with 110 matches being played at the Dubai Exiles Ground.

Seven tournaments swing into action on the four grass pitches to provide a feast of rugby that will see history made when the London Broncos become the first professional Rugby League team to take part in the event's 34-year history.

Teams from England, Scotland, Wales, Australia, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Iran, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, France, Russia, Azerbaijan and across the Middle East will all begin their campaigns for the right to play in the big finals that will take place in front of 20,000 fans on the main pitch on Friday.

The competition is set to be fierce in the International Invitational tournament that sees 16 touring sides square up. The British Army will start as favourites, but their bid to retain their title will be challenged by the Broncos who have relocated to Dubai for two months of warm weather training.

Elsewhere, there will be action in the International Social, International Veterans, Local Social, Ladies, Gulf Veterans and U19s tournaments. A total of 1700 players will take part over the three days with a record 330 matches to be played. Action will kick off at 10.20am and Wednesday's final game kicks off at 7.40pm.

Tournament favourites England will spend their final day training while several players and officials will share an audience with HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman of Emirates, the tournament title sponsor. Sheikh Ahmed will meet the England party to mark the three-year shirt sponsorship deal that Emirates announced with England on Sunday.

England coach Joe Lydon knows the pressure is on his side as they bid to emulate the heroics of their countrymen in the 15-man game.

"Being seeded one for such a prestigious tournament is a great honour and of course we want to live up to those expectations," said the former Great Britain rugby league star. "But there is a number of teams capable of winning here this weekend so we are far from getting carried away."

New Zealand have brought an awesome outfit to Dubai, and coach Gordon Tietjens says it is 'nice' to be underdogs for a change as they bid to win their fifth consecutive Emirates International Trophy.

"England are rightly seeded one on recognition of the way they played in the second part of the Series last year," he said. "They have a quality side and are undoubtedly the team to beat if you want to win the Emirates International Trophy on Friday. But I am extremely pleased with the side I have brought here to Dubai and I think we are in for an excellent weekend of rugby. Four or five teams have come here with the intention of winning. It is probably the most open Dubai 7s I have known for some years."

Among the other sides looking to make an impact this weekend, Australia may emerge as the surprise package with captain Paul Warwick insisting that his chargers are determined to cheer up a nation that is still recovering from the defeat to England in the final of the Rugby World Cup last month.

"It was a blow but to be fair the Rugby World Cup has had a massive impact on the game at home," he said. "It is still only played in certain areas of Australia but I am sure it will be more widespread following last month's tournament. The team we have here in Dubai is more than capable of causing a few problems for the big teams. We're just looking forward to getting out there and playing."

Action will continue throughout the weekend, climaxing in the grand final on the main pitch at 8.15pm on Friday. This will be followed by the annual Rugby Rock, which this year features 70's rock icon Suzi Quatro.

Dubai 7s Squads:
Arabian Gulf
Paul Austin (capt)
Marcus Smith
Mark Gathercole
Chris Owen
Iutoi Tauafiafi
Rob Subbiani
Christophe Baumann
Wayne Marsters
Nicolas De Marco
John Griffiths
James Spreadborough
Darryl Weir

Juan Martin Bianco Berberian
Francisco Bosch
Rafael Carballo
Pablo Gomez
Santiago Gomez
Francisco Leonelli
Lucio Lopez
Magin Moline
Sebastian Fossati
Andres Romagnoli
Santiago Sanz
Rafael Silva
Norberto Vergara
Marcelo Saco
Daniel Hourcade

Peri Maika
Luke Inman
Richard Brown
Gene Fairbanks
Paul Warwick
Tom Carter
Adam Cooper
Andrew Brown
Andrew Smith
Jarrod Saffy
Chris Siale
Scott Stanifoth
Brendan Morris
Alan Davies
Bill Millard

Matt Cohen
Mike Danskin
Derek Daypuck
Marco DiGirolamo
Jesse Frender
Matt King
Dave Moonlight
Jake Osbourne
Stirling Richmond
Ryan Smith
Chris Strubin
Shane Thompson
Ruc Suggitt
Rod Holloway
Mike Yates

Simon Amor - capt
Geoff Appleyard
James Brooks
Phil Dowson
Ben Gollings
Richard Haughton
James Hoyle
Ugo Monye
Tom Rees
Tony Roques
Rob Thirlby
John Elliott
Michael Snelling
Joe Lydon
Mike Friday

Manasa Bola
Filimone Bolavuca
Ponijese Delana
Sekove Leawere
Mikaele Leawere
Viliame Nabole
Watekini Naivoukula
Sireli Naqelevuki
Raymond Rodan
Nasoni Rokobiau
Kiniviliame Salabogi
Iliavi Satala
Usaia Daunivalu
Apakuki Misidani
Sanivalati Laulau

Oscar Osir (captain)
Newton Ong'alo (vice captain)
Bill Odongo
Mitch Ocholla
Dennis Mwanja
Ian Simiyu
Kanyi Gitonga
Benjamin Ayimba
Lavin Asego
Peter Abuoga
Allan Wamanga
Bill Githinji
Mark Andere
Aileen Taylor.

Hicham Hosni
Mohamed Loukrassi
Jalil Narjissi
Hassan Noubi
Fouad El Khaine
El Mehdi El Aafifi
Mehdi Zouhdi
Rachid Ouabdelmalik
Abdelilah Ouzoulif
Yahay Ouarrad
Youssef Joundoul
Akram Anwar Rhaili
Bernard Delbreil
Ahmed Belbaraka
Mohamed Belbaraka

Wensley Mbanje
Augustin Mberi
Franseller Takawira
Zacks Tondoro
Gary Hewitt
Rodney Cloette
Victor Zimbawo
Dougal Ewing
Tendayi Hondo
Fortunate Chipendu
Silethokuhle Ndlovu
Allan Mdehwa
Bruce Hobson
Dennis Boddy
Sean Robinson

New Zealand
Eric Rush
Tafai Ioaso
Craig De Goldi
Liam Messam
Amadio Valence
Karl Te Nana
Anthony Tuitivake
Brad Fleming
Nathanial Walker
Jared Going
Jason Tiatia
Justin Wilson
Ross Everiss
Geoff Potts
Gordon Tietjens

Maurie Faasavalu
Ponali Tapelu
Kitiona Viliamu
Lia Palala
Keneti Tofilau
Uale Mai
Gaolo Elisara
Samu Eteuati
Mark Tanuvasa
Roger Warren
David Lemi
Kueli Danielson
Salesa Taufusi
James Saunders
John Schuster

South Africa
Lucas Floors
Tonderai Chavhanga
Jospeh Van Rensburg
Paul Delport
Earl Rose
Dale Heidtmann
Wayne Van Heerden
Mark De Marigny
Eugene Francis
Fabian Juries
Marius Schoeman
Danwel Demas
Dion O'Quinneagain
Chester Williams
Brett Davison

Sri Lanka
Mahesh Liyanage
Mohamed Ibrahim
Dilip Selvam
Prasadh Wasala
Radhika Hetti
Lalindra Edirimuni
Chamaka Jayasinghe
Lakala Mudunkotuwa
Mohamed Buksh
Christopher Abeygoonewardena
Prabath Malikaarachchi
Mohamed Mohamed Jiffrey
Nimal Lewke
Amith Jayasakara
Peter Perera

Michael Wandera
Allan Musoke
Robert Sseguya
Onek Ongom
Ronnie Lutokome
Anthony Kinene
David Mutaka
Brian Tabaruka
John Musoke
Timothy Mudoola
Constatine Wandira
Obrien Tindimweba
Yayiro Kasasa
Ronnie Kaddu
Herbert Wafula

Kelvin Zulu
Alex Mulenga
Able Nonde
Andrew Kaminsa
Chilambe Kaweme
Harrison Boyd
Reuben Mkandawire
Doddick Nowanga
Benedict Chikwano
Noble Sinkamba
Chancy Mulama
Happy Chipili
Justin Chashi
Peter Phiri
Musa Zimba

Davy Larguet
Martial Moliner
Christophe Chone
Georges Lankri
Frank Laquet
Olivier Toulouze
Yohan Dalla Riva
Renaud Dulin
Florent Caseaux
Sylvain Mottet
Bruno Hiriart
Julien Saubade
Roger Fite
Thierry Janeczek
Stephane Toson

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