Dubai: Charity teams Joining Jack and J9 Legends will be the highlights outside of the men’s and women’s world series events at this weekend’s Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens.
Joining Jack is a team formed to raise money and awareness to combat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the muscle-wasting disease afflicting Jack Johnson, the five-year-old son of former Wigan Warriors rugby league player Andy Farrell.
J9, meanwhile, have teamed up to raise awareness and funds to tackle Motor Neurone Disease after the team’s founder — former South Africa World Cup-winning scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen — was diagnosed.
Joining Jack, who reached the semi-finals last year, include former rugby league stars like Andy Farrell and Jason Robinson, with Martin Offiah as celebrity water carrier, while J9 Legends boast union specialists such as Stephen Larkham, Carlos Spencer and Colin Charvis.
The star-studded teams will face off in the group phase of the international veterans tournament event from 11.20am on Thursday on pitch four.
“We are at a disadvantage in that we all have varying experience of rugby union,” said Widnes and Wigan legend Offiah, 46. “Union is still tough when it comes to rucking and mauling at the back, but when it comes to lineouts and scrums, between the two codes, it’s like chalk and cheese.”
This year, a record 213 teams and 3,144 players, playing 513 matches, are taking part across 14 divisions outside the main world series tournaments.
Split into international and GCC sections, the international subdivisions include men’s and women’s invitationals and opens, as well as veterans, social and under-18 events.
Meanwhile, the GCC section features men’s league, open, social and veterans divisions, as well as under-18s, women’s and — for the first time — a UAE National Schools Trophy.
For full fixture lists log on to dubairugby7s.com