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Q&A: Sevens questions for Donal Kilalea

Tournament Director for the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens talks about the event

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Donal Kilalea, tournament Director for the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens

1. What does your role as Tournament Director for the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens involve?

Kilalea: My role is very much ensuring that I keep up with the organisational team that keep me on my toes at all times. The event is a success due to the whole team and volunteers who spend hours on the event and many lost weekends!

2. The tournament has seen phenomenal growth over the last few years – why do you think it is so hugely popular?

Kilalea: The Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens hopefully is seen as a success due to the fact that it has managed to always retain its feel. When Emirates committed to building the new venue, The Sevens, they were adamant that the new grounds should reflect the same spirit of the Exiles but that it should be even better. Thus, the village area was expanded, the walking area around the main pitch was retained but at the same time, the facilities for the teams were vastly improved.

To me, the event offers world class rugby from the IRB Sevens World Series, rugby for all ages from the invitational tournament while also offering a family atmosphere over the three days. Children under 12 are allowed in free to the general areas. We have kiddies areas, for play, we have crèches which ensures that families can enjoy themselves and for the older ages, we have a full range of food and beverage as well as Rugby Rock concert on the Friday and the Saturday of the event .

3. What is the secret to organising such a successful event?

Kilalea: Having a very, very good team working on the event.

4. What is the most challenging part of your job?

Kilalea: Making sure that everything runs smoothly to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of fans that converge on The Sevens, enjoy their best weekend of the year.

5. What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

Kilalea: Seeing the final whistle blow and knowing we have had a very successful tournament with all members of the public having enjoyed themselves.

6. With the tournament celebrating 40 years this year, what can the crowds expect? Anything different?

Kilalea: We are bringing back Austin Powers who we have not seen for a while and is a great delight for the family. We have expanded the children area and we will have our parade in the evening. We also will have a children’s tournament on the Saturday on the main pitch to create a legacy for children and rugby.

7. Who do you see as favourites for the title this year?

Kilalea: It is always very difficult to predict and that is why Sevens is such an enjoyable game. If you look at our teams that are coming, anyone has a chance for you always have unpredictable results and possible upsets in Sevens.