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Left: Tony Philp, High Performance Sevens Manager of New Zealand men’s team, Faisal Al Zarooni, Vice President of UAE Rugby Federation, Gary Chapman, President Emirates Group Services & dnata, Douglas Langley, Men’s Series Director, HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, Deirdre O'Sullivan, Women’s Series Director, HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and Cory Sweeney, Co-Coach, New Zealand Women’s Team at the official press conference in Dubai on Wednesday. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Tournament sponsor Emirates Airline has hailed the philanthropic dimension of the annual Dubai Rugby Sevens that get under way at the Sevens ground on Al Ain Road on Thursday.

Gary Chapman, President of Emirates Group Services and DNATA, who has been associated with the event even before the tie-up of the airline in 1987 with the region’s oldest sporting competition, was admissive of the social dimension that some of the teams bring into the Dubai Sevens.

“Besides the business side of the tournament, there is the other side and that’s why we love this sport so much,” Chapman said at the pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday.

“There are a lot of charity teams that come in here, and many of these teams have the support of some of the past and present rugby professionals. And for us, to have a social cause to support embodies so many things including the philanthropic part of an event that brings out the best from everyone.”

Chapman was particularly keen on backing Samoa at this weekend’s tournament, more so due to the acute spread of the measles virus that has so far left 53 dead. “Samoa needs our support and backing at this stage and I would urge everyone to give the Samoan teams a warm welcome merely because they’re here battling all odds,” Chapman said.