Record crowds in Dubai
December 4, 2003

England, New Zealand, South Africa and Samoa put on an awesome display of rugby today when the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby 7s launched the International Rugby Board Sevens season in front of 15,000 partying fans today (Tuesday) at the Exiles Club.

England showed just why they are considered the favourites for the title by beating Morocco 45-0 in the day's opening game, with Ben Gollings running in three tries, and then went on to record the fifth biggest 7s score ever in steam rolling Sri Lanka 75-0. They finished their day's work with a 40-0 win over France to keep a clean sheet for the first day.

New Zealand, looking for their fifth consecutive Dubai title, breezed past Uganda 31-0, scoring their 100th try at the event over the last five years in the progress. They also beat the Arabian Gulf and an improving Argentina to stay on track for a collision course with England for tomorrow's final.

South Africa have started the tournament in fine style and recorded convincing wins over Kenya, Australia and Zambia. Fiji's new look team overcame Canada and Zimbabwe but were thwarted by south seas rivals Samoa who go through on top of Group C.

"The lads played well for the first day. We have not particularly done well here in Dubai before so it is very pleasing to get off to a strong start today," said England coach Joe Lydon, whose side chalked up 160 unanswered points.

Arabian Gulf were unable to take advantage of massive home support when the part-time players went down to New Zealand, Argentina and Uganda who showed plenty of flair in their first outing in Dubai. Zambia almost caused a huge upset when they narrowly lost to Australia 12-10 and should have secured a draw but missed a comfortable conversion from under the posts. Zambia, despite losing all three games, gained some consolation when Owen Busange scored the IRB Sevens 10,000th try.

The international action, which featured the best 7s teams from across the world, attracted 15,000 fans to the Exiles Ground. Friday's action is expected to see the attendance record shattered with over 20,000 fans expected.

In the Friday's quarter finals, England will meet Argentina, New Zealand face France, Samoa square up with Australia while South Africa will play Fiji.

"It's been a marvelous day with some of the best action I have seen," said Gary Chapman, President Associated Companies, Emirates Group. "The teams have traveled a long way to get here but showed no signs of tiredness. They put on an incredible show and provided plenty of entertainment for the huge crowds we attracted today."

Away from the big international action, over 100 teams took part in the various invitational and social event held alongside the big international action.

The action continues at 8.20am on Friday and reaches its climax at 8.15pm when the final takes place on the main pitch. Some tickets are still available for Friday's play but the advice is to reach to the ground early and to take a taxi as parking space is very limited.

Group A: England 45, Morocco 0; France 42, Sri Lanka 7; England 75, Sri Lanka 0; France 35, Morocco 7; Morocco 19, Sri Lanka 7; England 40, France 0.

Group B: New Zealand 31, Uganda 0; Argentina 22, Arabian Gulf 5; Argentina 12, Uganda 7; Uganda 24, Arabian Gulf 12; New Zealand 28, Argentina 14.

Group C: Fiji 26, Canada 14; Samoa 39, Zimbabwe 0; Fiji 47, Zimbabwe 0; Samoa 22, Canada 7; Canada 28, Zimbabwe 7; Fiji 5, Samoa 12.

Group D: South Africa 38, Kenya 10; Australia 12, Zambia 10; South Africa 48, Zambia 0; Australia 22, Kenya 17; Kenya 33, Zambia 14; South Africa 31, Australia 7.


Emirates International Trophy, quarter finals: England v Argentina; South Africa v Fiji; Samoa v Australia; New Zealand v France.

Emirates International Trophy, quarter finals: Morocco v Arabian Gulf; Kenya v Zimbabwe; Canada v Zambia; Uganda v Sri Lanka.

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