Dubai scrubbed from Sevens Series


The International Rugby Board (IRB) has decided to remove Dubai from the World Sevens Series this year over concerns about travelling to the emirate during US air strikes, organisers said today.

The IRB consulted with several unions before dropping the three-day tournament from November 7th to 9th which was to have launched the International Rugby Board's 2001/02 series.

The World Sevens Series will now begin the following weekend in South Africa.

An IRB spokesman, based in Ireland, said: "The IRB regrets the current position and the action it felt was necessary to take."

Teams including Fiji, Argentina and Canada had raised concerns.

However, an event will still take place in Dubai.

"We are heartened that a number of unions have expressed a wish that they still want to compete in an international tournament in Dubai," said Gary Chapman, Chief Director Support and Development for sponsors Emirates Airline.

"Everyone involved in the Dubai Rugby Seven's over the last 32 years has worked hard to elevate the event to the level it is at today and we are confident it will continue to be one of the world's top rugby spectacles."

Tension has mounted in the Gulf region since the September 11th terror attacks in the United States and the US air war on Afghanistan, with expatriates warned by embassies to keep a low profile.

Several mainly US and European companies have stopped executive travel outside Dubai unless on urgent business, and many have drawn up contingency plans for possible evacuation.