Backchat With Cat­boy

What's On (Dubai) - - CONTENTS -

Our man waxes lyri­cal about the en­dur­ing ap­peal of Rugby 7s

Ican’t be­lieve the Sevens is com­ing around AGAIN! Where did the year go? There’s still a bit of tinsel around the bot­tom of the lamp in our hall­way from Christ­mas. Your age will de­ter­mine whether or not you agree with the above sen­ti­ment. The older you are, the more vig­or­ously you’ll be nod­ding right now, at least un­til you crick your neck. I was a Sevens-de­nier for many years. Be­cause, as you’re all aware – I’m a se­cret hip­ster. I ar­rived in Dubai dur­ing the month of Au­gust, back when the Sevens was still held at Dubai Coun­try Club. Peo­ple were talk­ing about it all the time. Hav­ing never had the slight­est in­ter­est in the sport, thanks, in no small part, to Len Tin­gle. He was my fear­some, mega-bearded P.E. teacher in the first year of big school. He marched a bunch of shiv­er­ing, wet 12-year-olds through a rain­storm, onto a mud bath with rugby posts at each end.

I was tiny at the time (how things have changed) and was forced to be… Err… Well, I don’t know the po­si­tion’s name… Ba­si­cally, the lit­tle bloke who gets the ball out of the scrum and then gets vi­ciously at­tacked, firstly by the op­pos­ing team, then by his own team for let­ting the op­pos­ing team get the ball.

This was, per­haps, my only EVER in­volve­ment in the sport. It was mem­o­rable for two rea­sons. One, my best friend ended up with a dis­lo­cated col­lar bone and got sent to hospi­tal and two, ev­ery sin­gle lad on that pitch was no longer recog­nis­able due to hav­ing a solid two or three inches of caked-on mud on ev­ery bit of their bod­ies.

From that day on, rugby and I took dif­fer­ent paths. That said, in my stu­dent years and be­yond a lot of peo­ple I found my­self both be­friend­ing and re­spect­ing both men and women who seemed to swear by the sport. It didn’t sway me. There was also plenty of Hoorah Hen­rys – posh kids, with bet­ter cars than my dad’s, ex­pen­sive sweaters strewn across their shoul­ders, who were pos­si­bly some­how linked to Boris John­son and lower ranked Bri­tish roy­alty. That got my work­ing class heck­les up and that was that.

So, on ar­rival in Dubai and hear­ing about it non-stop, then hav­ing sev­eral peo­ple seem in­cred­u­lous that I wasn’t in­ter­ested in go­ing, I be­came even more de­ter­mined that, in the same way I was never go­ing to have a Face­book pro­file photo stood next to a Fer­rari (a Dubai plonker clas­sic), I was never go­ing to the Sevens.

And I man­aged it for a good few years. I looked for­ward to it. I was a great day to go shop­ping or just drive around with fewer id­iots on the roads. Alas, like all good things, it came to an end when the cor­po­rate lasso yanked me up the Al Ain Road and I found my­self on the pitch in front of tens of thou­sands of peo­ple, mon­key­ing around.

Since then, I’ve been ev­ery year – and what an event. I don’t know how they do it. I also don’t know how at least 50 per cent of the peo­ple there get home. It’s bril­liant. It’s a great place to go with the fam­ily, the lads, the girls, or tourists. In fact, it’s like be­ing at a fes­ti­val.

And I can say all of this; hand on heart, hav­ing never ever seen a sec­ond of rugby in the decade I’ve at­tended.

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