End of an era

MORE than a few tears will be shed when the home of rugby in the Gulf — the Dubai Exiles Club — pitches tent elsewhere after having successfully organised a global rugby event annually for the past 38 years.

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Published: Tue 4 Dec 2007, 9:29 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:52 AM

With the Dubai Country Club set to be razed shortly, it will mark the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter as Dubai prepares to stage the IRB World Seven finale in March 2009 at a new Emirates-funded rugby complex near Dubailand on the Al Ain road. Roads leading to the Dubai Country Club in Al Awir will not be packed with rugby fans this time around next year.

From small beginnings when there were no grass pitches, the Dubai Rugby Sevens has grown to such an extent that there is a divergence of cultures during the three-day event. It not only attracts the cream of rugby stars past and present, the multitude of fans of various shades and colours who grace the occasion is a testimony of the popularity of this rugby extravaganza. With the Dubai Sevens having grown beyond expectations, being on par if not more popular than the famed Hong Kong Sevens, it is in the natural order of things that there should be a permanent new abode for this mega event instead of makeshift infrastructure. Rugby or any other sport for that matter is becoming more professional in outlook and requires organisers to change gear to keep abreast with the times.

The new development could only benefit and raise the profile of Dubai’s commitment for the development of rugby not only in the region nay the whole world. So much so that even nationals are taking an active interest in playing rugby which was once the preserve of European expatriates based in the Gulf. The formation of the UAE Rugby Association is also a positive step because the talents of Emiratis need to be channelled in the right direction.

While paying tribute to the pioneers of the game in this country, it is time to ring in the changes.

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