Dubai Sevens festival should spur youth to take up rugby
For all the lavish tournaments and star names that drift into the UAE every year, only one event can conjure a unique festive atmosphere.
Once again, the Dubai Sevens excelled on all fronts. The colour, the mood, the atmosphere, all utterly unique to a tournament that has successfully married elite sport and the invitational corinthian spirit.
Nearly 45 years after its inception by the Dubai Exiles club, the popularity grows year on year while the quality and breadth of the tournament expands.
Unlike a major European Tour event or a top tennis tournament, the Sevens was produced organically on Emirati soil giving it the authenticity and intangible connection to the country.
The Sevens alone in the UAE has the ability to attract crowds in droves, and turn them into more than just spectators but revellers, individuals who know that they are contributing to the atmosphere and the history of the tournament by attending - and presumably dressing up in one form or another as well.
Every player from the elite level says the same thing, that the Dubai Sevens is their favourite leg of the World Series.
It is the only one that embraces invitational sport. In that respect the Dubai Sevens embraces what is great about sport; doing it for its own sake, for the love of the game and knowing that the scoreline after the game is just a number.
A fine decision from tournament organisers is to give the smaller tournaments their day in the sun.
Local players from local teams as well as legendary veterans and even juniors and schools were given their finals on the main pitch, offering an unforgettable memory for those involved, their chance to feel like true superstars in front of a major crowd who willed on their every run and felt every tackle.
For the vast amount of youngsters in attendance, the sights and emotion around the event can only inspire, hopefully infecting thousands of children with the rugby bug and possibly creating a love affair for the rest of their lives.
Where the scores on the board did count, the rugby was of an exceptionally high quality. Up until their exit, New Zealand were their flamboyant selves, while the Fijians were as always brilliantly entertaining thanks to their aggressive attacking style, a country that absolutely deserved to be crowned champions.
Simon Amor brought an England side with a new flavour, something more youthful looking to the future while South Africa were brutally powerful.
The packed stands of 44,000 were indeed treated to a special festival of rugby. When Chris Dry of South Africa ran over the final try of the tournament, the screaming hoards brought a glorious three days to a close with a deafening crescendo, a fitting end for a festive and unique tournament.