On the 25th and 26th November respectively, Vincent Ringrose and Jordan Graham flew over to the United Arab Emirates to take part in the Dubai 7s 2017.
With over 500 games of rugby across three days and over 80 rugby referees from around the world it was extremely hard not to be engrossed in one of the World Rugby’s show-piece stops on the World Series 7s circuit.
The official part of the tournament began with a seminar and physical training with the referees from World Rugby and the Referee coaches. The seminar was led by Craig Joubert who took the group of referees through a “Sevens Refereeing 101” presentation. A really clear and simple presentation that set the scene for was to be a successful tournament for all referees involved. After the coaching and physical training sessions, all referees, referee coaches and World Rugby referees boarded a boat that took us up and down the Dubai Creek. This was a good chance to meet all the new faces with the amazing back drop that is the Dubai skyline by night. The skyline was well lit up given it happened to be their National Holiday weekend.
Rugby kicked off on 30th November with Vincent and Jordan hitting the ground running with some tough games first up. For Vincent it was a good chance to get back amongst a familiar setting and for Jordan a new experience with the team of three approach and the heat associated with refereeing in a desert. Day 1 was an incredibly long day with games kicking off at 9:00am in the morning, with the last game of the night kicking off at 8:40pm.
On Day 2, the first signs of how tough the three days starts to sink as the legs start to feel fatigue and the jetlag mixed with a bit of exhaustion makes for a bit of fun. The value of air conditioning is not lost on anyone. Both Vincent and Jordan were captains of their respective teams of three which meant they were responsible for divvying up the appointments amongst the teams they’d been assigned. By Day 2, referees are pretty clear on where they sit around which final they should be aiming for. Another tough day with a similar workload to day one.
On the final day, both Vincent and Jordan were awarded finals. Vincent received the International Open Mens final which was played on Pitch 2. While not the game he was aiming for it was a good outcome and a game that he was extremely proud to be awarded.
Jordan’s final was the Gulf Vets final which was also played on Pitch 2. Jordan was also involved as an In-Goal Judge on the main pitch for the International Vets final in front of over 15,000 people.
Over the three days of rugby Vincent and Jordan both refereed about 12-13 games each and AR’d up to 25-26 games each. That equated to around 17 kilometres of running on the rugby fields each day. With temperatures in the 30s with humidity driving it up, it was a good test of fitness levels for all involved.
Outside of the rugby, Vincent made the most of being in the UAE and headed down to Abu Dhabi to attend the final race of the 2018 Formula 1 season. In true UAE style, it was an amazing spectacle with all in attendance left utterly amazed at how much money must be involved in orchestrating an event like that.
Jordan managed to tick off the bucket list item he had air-marked, going 148 floors up the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Just 550 metres off the ground, Jordan managed to snap a photo worthy of an autobiography cover-page.
New Zealand was well represented over in Dubai with lots of familiar faces and a lot of new friends to make as well. Vincent and Jordan returned to Wellington on the 3rd of December with heavy legs and weary eyes.
A big thank you goes to Stan and the UAERRS who hosted Vincent and Jordan in Dubai, an awesome tournament to be invited to and hopefully one that Wellington referees can continue to participate in in future.
The final note and massive thank you is to the WRRA and the WRRA Executive who selected Vincent and Jordan to represent the association and for funding Vincent and Jordan’s travel to and from Dubai. It is a privilege to be able to attend an interchange a special as the Dubai 7s and Wellington is very lucky to have the opportunity. It is an opportunity all referees should seek out, you will not regret the experience.