A decision was required. Should it be Dubai sunshine, world-class sevens and a big party, or to stay at home and organise the Christmas shopping?
It wasn’t a very tough choice to make as we all set off from Heathrow on our very comfortable Emirates Airlines A380 aircraft, leaving behind the wind and rain of home for the sun-drenched UAE. Just six hours later, t-shirts, shorts and sunglasses were the order of the day as we touched down in Dubai.
The opening round of the 2015/16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series lay in wait for us as teams from around the world came together to compete in the iconic tournament.
Our base for the duration of our stay was the very comfortable and friendly 4* Bonnington Hotel which was well located for our coach to make the 40 minute transfer out to the desert venue of the Emirates Sevens Rugby Ground. Over 100000 fans came together from all around the world to enjoy the long weekend. After spending a relaxing day to get over our flight, we then had a spare day that allowed us to enjoy some time exploring what Dubai had to offer. Several of our group hopped on to a coach tour of Dubai while others chose to head to the world’s tallest building to experience it’s viewing deck. Meanwhile others visited the shopping malls, and some of us decided to recharge our batteries with a cool drink lying next to the hotel swimming pool.
The eve of the tournament saw our group come together in the hotel’s popular McGettigan’s Irish bar to sit under the stars in our t-shirts enjoying a couple of cool pints of beer or glasses of wine. Former England captain and 2009 Sevens world player of the year, Ollie Phillips was our guest. Ollie was able to share some of his thoughts about what to expect ahead of this season’s Sevens campaign and also to share some stories about his outstanding career.
With rugby sevens being introduced as an Olympic sport at Rio next August the rugby worlds eyes were fixed firmly on Dubai to see how the likely contenders would fare. With the Dubai ex-pat community out in force, the refreshments were flowing and many fancy dress outfits were in evidence as the tournament got under way in a lovely warm temperature. From our shaded reserved seating area we saw England produce several exciting displays defeating Australia, Wales and the USA on their way to the final where they would meet World Champions Fiji who had overcome the All Blacks in their semi-final. However in the final the strongly fancied Fijians were too powerful for England and cruised to a 28-17 win to be crowned tournament champions.
With tours also available to rugby sevens tournaments in Las Vegas, Vancouver and Hong Kong, it was now a case of deciding what to put next on the bucket list!
The only problem remaining is that we still have the Christmas shopping to do, but it was certainly well worth putting the pressies on hold for a few days.
Until the next time……..