Cook to ref at Dubai Sevens
IT’S been three years coming but leading Far North Coast rugby union referee Graham Cook will finally take centre stage at the elite Dubai Sevens tournament next month.
The appointment of Cook as a whistle-blower caps an amazing year for the 2009 FNC referee of the year.
He also officiated at the Hong Kong Sevens in March and refereed his 20th successive grand final, won by Lennox Head in Lismore last month.
Cook joins Rob Walker and Steve Williamson from the FNC Referees’ Association but his invitation came via an exchange program with the United Arab Emirates Referees’ Association.
Another five Australians will be among the world contingent of more than 70 referees kept busy participating in up to 450 games of rugby sevens on each day of the tournament from December 3 to 5.
“It has been a while coming but I’m already convinced it will be worth the wait,” Cook said yesterday.
“The various international divisions are mind-boggling and although it looks incredibly tiring it shapes up as a must-see event.
“We have it on good information the temperature could only be 35 degrees at that time of year.”
The tournament is part of the IRB Sevens World Series and will be staged in a purpose-built rugby facility in the desert capable of holding 50,000 people opened in March. It also has five fields surrounding the main stadium.
Each referee has a set schedule of refereeing six games a day and either refereeing or running the line as a touch judge for another 12 each day in a program running from 8am to 9pm.
The tournament includes 2000 players and will culminate in 10 different division finals, including two for women.
Although the Dubai Sevens tournament has been running for 40 years, it has only emerged at an elite level in the past decade.
Walker and Williamson have officiated in the Dubai tournament for the past two years while Cook was forced to decline two previous invitations.
In the first year of the exchange program he had to decline because of a serious knee injury and last year he turned it down because of business commitments.