Absolutely EVERYTHING you need to know about the Dubai Rugby Sevens
Now in its 44th year, the Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens has become a spectacular three-day event, attracting fans from all around the world to the highlight of the social calendar in the region. Taking place this year between November 28-30, it is the second round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, which concludes in England in May, and the opening round of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series.
Samoa took the trophy home from Dubai with some stylish counter-attacking last year, but it was the all-conquering All Blacks who won the war, being crowned the Sevens World Series Champions for the second time in a row.
While it is essentially the same game as its bigger 15-a-side cousin, Sevens has some important differences that make it faster, more explosive and more skilful.
Memorise these seven helpful rules and you’ll be clued up…
– There are seven players per team and each half lasts seven minutes
– The teams compete in three-man scrums
– Players get a two-minute ‘sin bin’ for a yellow card
– Teams are allowed to make three substitutions per game
– Drop goals are used as try-conversions
– Conversions must be taken within 40 seconds of scoring a try
– Five minutes of extra time is played if the game ends in a tie
How much are the tickets? The event starts at 7.30pm on Thursday November 28 and entry is free. However, day passes for the Friday or Saturday cost Dhs250 per day. Make sure you buy your tickets before you go as charges on the door will be steeper at Dhs300 per day.
And there’s more…
How do I get there? The Sevens Stadium is just over 30 minutes’ drive from Sheikh Zayed Road. Take the Al Ain Road (E66), and carry on beyond Emirates Road and the Outlet Mall. The event is signposted. A taxi ride will cost you approximately Dhs90.
Should I drive? You can, but the queues from the car park are long, so we advise taking a taxi there and making the most of the many free shuttle buses back. The bus service starts from 6pm every night with final buses leaving at midnight. The drop-off points are: Dubai Media City (family drop off), Dubai Festival City (family drop off), Barasti and Bidi Bondi.
Is there parking? If you insist on driving, then you’ll be happy to know that there are 12,000 car park spaces available at the stadium – all of which are free of charge. However, if you get caught in traffic on the way out, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
When is the best time to go? The earlier the better. The Sevens attracts up to 50,000 people daily, so make sure you get the best seats and beat the queues by coming early. The gates officially open at 7.30am, but let’s face it – that’s far too early for a weekend. We’ll see you there around 10am.
If I have to leave during the day can I come back in? Yes indeed. Upon arriving you are given a wristband that allows you to roam in and out of your section as you please.
How do I pay for food and drink? Food and drink at The Sevens is bought using coupons, but you’ll need to bring money to buy the booklets – there are plenty of ATMs on site.
Is it a family-friendly event? It’s not all about blokes and rugby balls. The Sevens has made some tweaks to the event to make it more family-friendly this year. There’s a family entrance at the stadium; children under 12 get in for free if accompanied by an adult and 2,000 seats are dedicated to mums, dads and children in The Air BP stand.
In the Children’s Village, there’s a crèche, managed by the mobile childcare company, Crèche Out, which has been expanded with more facilities and entertainment for under-eights such as face painting and bouncy castles. Older ones can play games at the HSBC World of Sport.
UAE circus performers, The Jugglebox are running workshops on juggling, stilt walking, unicycle riding and plate spinning. They’ll also perform shows on Friday and Saturday.
What time does it end? While the final match on each of the days is around 9pm, we recommend staying behind and revelling in the party-like atmosphere. When the final whistle goes head to the Rugby Village outside the stadium to dissect the games and compare costumes. On Friday there’s music from The CVE and on Saturday it’s the turn of Million Dollar Band.
And when that’s done, you can keep the party going by jumping on a bus and heading off to one of the many post-event venues. The gates officially close at midnight.
The Sevens Stadium, Al Ain Road, Dubai.
Taxi: Sevens Stadium.