The Emirate Airline Dubai Sevens starts to take over the Middle East this week.
After the race to Dubai and the Formula 1 it has been an action packed few weeks in the United Arab Emirates. The area has just finished a 30 day blast of fitness. At the completion of the Dubai fitness challenge we watched Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua training on top of the Burj Al Rab. Now the region prepares for another major sporting event, the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens.
The best part to the whole experience is that the relentless heat of the summer has eased and the weather has drawn out the crowds in their masses. No longer do we have to worry about the sweat showing through our shirts as we walk around the city. The only way to describe the heat and the effect is your work shirt. After 5 minutes of walking from your car to your office, your white shirt resembles something like a bucket of water has been thrown over it in the start of a wet t shirt competition.
As the weather loosens its grip on everyone’s white shirt and the outdoor brunch season gains life so does the training for the Dubai Sevens. Especially the local club rugby competitions.
The local competition is set up in a slightly different way to what we are used to in other areas.
We start with a round of 15s games then that is effectively put on hold to start the build up to the sevens. It then runs alongside the professionals in the HSBC Sevens Series leg in Dubai. The competition will return to 15s in the new year.
Yes the competition and pre season does kick off during the relentless summer. The heat is nothing like you have ever experienced. Especially if your last 4 years have been spent in the United Kingdom, specifically Scotland. It is not the rain that loosens up your grip on the ball at training it is the buckets of sweat coming from you and everyone else.
Travel rugby training in the UAE takes a different shape as many of the clubs are located outside of the city. As you travel through the masses of skyscrapers, you need to keep your wits about you on the drive. It can be a bit chaotic on the six lane roads and accidents are a common site. Cars dodge and weave around you and the large amounts of buses filled with labourers who have finished their shifts on the ever expanding city. Cranes tower over new developments and the window cleaners abseil from them stemming the sand build up on the impressive buildings.
Moving to a club in the Middle East…
The beauty of moving to a club in the middle east is that everything you love about amateur club rugby is amplified. None more so than at the Jebel Ali Dragons. At the Dragons there is a very strong sense of belonging. It is strong even though many players only stay in the area for a few months or years. Every player is willing to help you out. Get you settled in and even offer advice on how to tackle the setup which can be challenging at times. This flows through the Dragon’s veins directly from its leadership. The leadership made up of Chairman, Stuart Quinn and Director of Rugby Henry Paul.
The club is also full of other characters as many amateur clubs are.
There are too many to name them but two that breath the fire of a Dragon are Dutchy and Harty. This family culture and willingness to help others recently saw the team rallying to find accommodation for the Fiji team. Accommodation and training facilities needed when a sponsorship opportunity fell through.
The Olympic champions were without accommodation. Through the Dragon’s network of players and Chairman Quinn they secured accommodation at the Bonnington, gym facilities at Base 3 and the mighty Jebel Ali Dragons put out their own sevens team for a tune up against the Fijians. While is was suppose to be a lighter hit out a few of the boys held nothing back. As did the Fijians who showed why they won the gold medal.
The standard of the Olympic champions will be at an all time high when the competition starts on Friday. The Fijians gave the Jebel Ali Dragons a chance to fine tune their own game. A important run out for the team ahead of their bid to regain the Gulf Men’s title at The Sevens. The rugby in the region is competitive, good fun and has no shortage of long held rivalries. There are a few ex professionals mixed throughout the scene some are still playing and or coaching. It is an exciting time in the area so be sure to get your tickets early.