“7he Sevens “ is the name given to the ground that hosts as much as six pitches inclusive of the main stadium where the IRB Sevens Series s is played. It was a memorable first t in the rugby history for Portugal who beat England in the pool games. With England held by Fiji 21 -21 at the hooter it looked as though Portugal will make it to the quarters? Eventual cup winners England made that final try through the replacement Simon Hunt and edged out Portugal on the difference of points. To Portugal the giant killers it was an occasion of joy as they have lifted their morale and wait for the next in the World Series in Africa this week.
Last week's clash in Dubai showed that the popularity of rugby sevens is exploding across the globe. From the deserts of Dubai it moves this week to George, South Africa for stage two. While Portugal proved that they could run with the best of teams it was Zimbabwe that sent Argentina and Scotland reeling all the way. Rugby Sevens is what the world saw in the T20 in cricket and has come to stay. That is where the crowds are expected to be. Dubai is a unique experience and hard to match tournament. While the big guns battle it on the main pitch on Friday and Saturday there are others who play in the grounds around the main pitch. Four out of the five other grounds are used and various rugby tournaments are played beginning Thursday and ends on Saturday.
The Lankan referees at “7he Sevens “
The number of matches played other than on the main pitch amount to around 430. All these are played within the rugby sevens enclosure and with every ground being within 100meters of walking distance from the main venue.
Sri Lankan referees played a prominent part in the invitation matches refereeing and got valuable advice from some of the best known referee coaches from England, New Zealand and Australia.
The Sevens was a hugely competitive tournament where England came back very strongly from their first ever defeat at the hands of Portugal in the pool stages. The Sevens saw entertaining rugby played in the presence of a capacity crowd of well over 30,000. The global recession may have reduced the crowd to below the 2008 levels. It was more than or at least equal to the numbers you saw in 2009. Starting from the semi finals it was entertaining rugby that provided some outstanding Sevens in front of a packed stadium, First it was Fautua Otto's remarkable try in the corner that stole the show during Samoa's 24-21 victory over Fiji. This was followed by Lyndsay-Hague's two tries that helped England beat New Zealand 19-14 and reach their first Cup final since the 2009 London Sevens.
In the quarter finals Samoa proved too strong for USA leading to a 38-5 defeat. Fiji trailed South Africa 19-7 with less than two minutes remaining in their quarter final, but secured a dramatic last minute victory to set up an all-Pacific semi final. England came from the jaws of defeat against Australia to take their place in the next round. After being led by Australia 21-19 with less than a minute remaining England once again proved that they were not out till the final hooter is sounded.
Current Rugby World Cup Sevens champions Wales could not stop New Zealand, as they suffered a 35-7 defeat in the fourth and final quarter final. Cecil Afrika stole the show in the Plate final as his hat-trick helped South Africa beat Australia 19-12 .New Zealand and England clashed in a cliffhanger in the semi-final .Finally England seemed to have the right combination of power and pace to put the All Blacks were out of the game. They made the final minute try and secured a tight win. England not wearing normal white seemed to be building sevens only team in yellow. Once again after trailing 14-12 at half time in the final and 21-12 with three minutes remaining, England then showed Great Spirit by scoring three tries to seal victory 29-21 in front of a huge appreciative crowd.
What I saw in this tournament was a more power based yet fast rugby that was thrilling to an appreciative crowd. The long pause and the thunder like hit in contact was the impact to the viewer. The ball handling was good and the thought of contact is not what we see with a number of bodies involved. Quick ball was the emphasis both by players as well as the referees.
Argentina took the bowl while Kenya took the shield. In the invitation women’s tournament England World Cup stars beat France. Playing in the women's competition as Samurai Dubai beat France 34-0 in the final, played on the main pitch of 7he Sevens .Including several of England's Women's Rugby World Cup squad, Samurai Dubai delighted the fans with some excellent Sevens.
Vimal Perera is a former
Rugby Referee, coach and
Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB