Dubai's new home of rugby 'The Sevens' enjoyed a record-breaking start to life on day one of the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens.
The stadium, purpose-built for next year's Rugby World Cup Sevens and all subsequent Dubai events, welcomed 50,000 fans on day one yesterday, the most ever for an IRB Sevens World Series event.
"Hong Kong has held the Sevens capacity record for a long time now, so it just shows how far this Dubai tournament has come," said IRB Sevens Manager Beth Coalter, formerly an employee of the Hong Kong Rugby Football union.
"The atmosphere on the first day here was fantastic, there was a real buzz inside the whole complex from the very start and everyone was enjoying themselves.
"As far as the fans go it seems to have taken all the best bits from the old Exiles ground and made them bigger and better. There is a great diversity of nationalities here, having fun, supporting their teams and appreciating world class Sevens rugby," added Coalter.
Sixteen international men's teams are competing in the World Series event, which also offers Coalter and the Rugby World Cup Sevens organisers a priceless opportunity to fully stress-test the new venue ahead of the March showpiece, which will cater for 24 men's teams and for the first time 16 women's teams.
World class facilities
"The teams are all delighted with the facilities here," continued Coalter. "The outside pitches provide all the space they need to warm up and train and the main clubhouse caters for them very well in terms of food, drink and rest, all of which are so important for Sevens in this kind of heat.
"Because seats are unallocated for this event, the crowd also tends to fill up early in the day, with different nationalities mixing and partying, so the atmosphere builds very quickly.
"It promises great things for the climax of this tournament and also next year's Rugby World Cup Sevens, which will raise the bar for Sevens.
Reaching out for the Olympic Games
"The blend of fans who have travelled from all over the world, the competitiveness of all the teams, the best men's and women's players and high quality entertainment means that the tournament in March will be an event not to be missed. It really will underline Sevens compelling case for Olympic reinclusion," added Coalter.
'The Sevens' - fact file
50,000 - ground capacity
1,250 - the number of people who worked on the construction of the complex
3,698,914 - area of the site, metres squared
6,972,100 - man hours worked
1,900,000 - sand used, metres cubed
423 - days to built
14 - kilometres of internal roads