Emirates Airline A380 does a fly-by at the Dubai Sevens on Friday. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: The 2021 edition of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens will be staged at its regular home at The Sevens Stadium along the Dubai-Al Ain road, from December 2-4.

Now in its 51st year, the annual tournament — a definite highlight in the sporting calendar of the UAE — will mark yet another edition as the world of rugby marks its return to the desert following the cancellation of the 2020 tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual festival of sport will see more participants than ever before with the addition of a cricket tournament on the world-class ovals of The Sevens Stadium.

Cricket 7s will take its place alongside Netball and Rugby as mass-participation for local, regional and international competition.

Tournament Director, Thomas Burwell looked forward to the 2021 tournament. “It’s with huge excitement that we have the opportunity to announce our 2021 date. We understand from teams and players across the world how excited they are to return to the desert this coming December,” Burwell noted.

“The addition of cricket is very exciting as more sportsmen, women, boys and girls will get the chance to take part in this iconic tournament. Cricket will bring its own flavour and showcase the facilities of The Sevens Stadium,” he added.

“We are also happy to be returning to our traditional dates on the opening weekend of December and due to a reformatting of the schedule, we will be welcoming an increased number of teams in rugby and netball this year. Entries for all three sports will open on March 1,” Burwell stressed.

“I would like to thank the UAE Rugby Federation, World Rugby and the local government stakeholders for their ongoing support of our event,” he added.

Asia Rugby President Qais Abdullah Al Dhalai was also pleased to see the return of such an important event on the sporting calendar of the UAE and the overall Gulf region. “We are pleased to see the planning for the return of the Emirates Dubai 7s and stand in solidarity with all stakeholders to make this an unforgettable event, that will be hosted by Emirates in conjunction with the United Arab Emirates Rugby Federation. We look forward to the participation from Asian nations at this top-class global sevens event,” Al Dhalai remarked.

“As a new leader for the Asian Region, I look forward to seeing an increase in Asian participation at this event,” he hoped.

The Emirates Dubai 7s will feature over 350 teams across the three sports in 2021 with more than 50 per cent of participating teams and players coming from outside the Gulf region underlining the tournaments’ position as a truly global celebration of sport held in the desert of Dubai.