UAE bid for 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens

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Men at the top: (l-r) UAE performance manager Roelof Kotze, UAE RF secretary Qais Al Dhalai and team manager Mohammed Shaker.

The rugby World Cup Sevens could be heading back to Dubai in 2018, after the UAE Rugby Federation revealed they had officially begun the bidding process this weekend.

The Emirates last played host to the showcase of the globe’s finest limited-sides stars in 2009.

The sport has gone from strength-to-strength in the inter­vening years, with attendances top­ping 100,000 for the annual Dubai Sevens extravaganza.

This popularity combined with the world-class 7he Sevens Stadium facilities makes the UAE, who reg­istered intent earlier in the year, a credible candidate.

The International Rugby Board has received interest from 13 other nations, with competition set to come from England, Fiji, France, Hong Kong, Netherlands, New Zea­land, Portugal, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, United States and Wales. Official bids have to be submitted by December, with the winner revealed in May.

“We are bidding for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens, it is a very hot topic for us as we started the bidding process yesterday [Sat­urday],” UAE RF secretary general Qais Al Dhalai said. “This will be in partnership with the Dubai govern­ment. We are going to lobby heavily for this, for our nation.

“The bidding form is a long docu­ment, with requests about many sides of the game – commercial, technical, communication, player welfare, stadium, referees etc.”

The 2013 tournament in Moscow was marked by poor attendance, which Al Dhalai insisted would not be an issue in the UAE.

He added: “Apparently, the IRB have learned from their mistakes from the previous event in Moscow when the stadium was empty.

“It damages the sevens game if you watch the final with only 200 people in a 40,000-seater stadium.”

A potential hurdle to Dubai’s bid comes with the timing of the tour­nament. Organisers are pushing for an August or September start, which would be impossible for the UAE to comply with because of the intense heat during those months.

Al Dhalai said: “One of the big fac­tors that will determine our success is the time factor. The UAE RF is in discussions with the IRB to find a suitable window. We saw positive signs that there could be a mutual agreement to be found.”

The Rugby World Cup Sevens is usually held every four years. But a one-off, five-year gap has been agreed to create a two-year window with the Olympic Games after the

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