By Gavin Gibbon
Organisers have revealed plans for an invitational tournament following decision from World Rugby
The hugely popular Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens has been cancelled for this year, but may be replaced by a regional invitational tournament, organisers announced today.
The annual event, which draws in thousands of spectators from all over the world, was due to be held in the first week of December, but has become the latest high profile casualty to succumb to the Covid-19 global pandemic.
It will be the first time in 51 years that the tournament won’t go ahead. The Cape Town competition, in South Africa, has also been cancelled by Sevens organisers World Rugby.
“We are of course disappointed not to be hosting the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens for the first time in 51 years, but we understand the extraordinary circumstances surrounding today’s cancellation of the opening tournaments of the new season,” said Gary Chapman, president Emirates Group Services and dnata.
“With 28 national teams from 18 countries on six continents, the current pandemic has created a unique challenge to logistics with each country facing differing levels of restrictions on trael around the world.
“The decisions were taken in line with relevant government and international public health authority advice and with the health and wellbeing of the rugby community and the wider public taking precedence. Both hosts are due to return to a full Series schedule beyond this season,” Chapman added.
World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said: “While we share in the disappointment of players, teams, fans, hosts and everyone involved with the popular events in Dubai and Cape Town, this is a prudent decision taken with the health and wellbeing of the global rugby community and wider society as our top priority and guided by the relevant government and international public health authority advice. We look forward to welcoming these wonderful destinations back to the Series following this year’s hiatus.”
Tournament director Tom Burwell revealed plans are afoot to run a regional invitational competition instead.
He said: “While we are unable to deliver the world-famous Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens in its traditional format in 2020, we are currently exploring options to safely deliver an invitation tournament in December, which will be invitational club level regionally focused across rugby, netball and cricket.”