Mehrtens and Barnes entertain fans at annual Emirates Airlines rugby Long LUNCH

The annual Emirates Airline Rugby Long Lunch saw over 800 rugby fans enjoy an afternoon of entertainment from former All Blacks player Andrew Mehrtens and international rugby union referee Wayne Barnes.

The annual Long Lunch is part of the excitement and build for the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens on  December 1-3.

Mehrtens is regarded as one of the greatest players New Zealand has ever produced and has been the driving force behind many famous All Blacks, Crusaders and Canterbury victories.

His career saw him play 72 games for the All Blacks, 70 of which were Tests, 87 for the Crusaders, where he was instrumental in the 1998, 1999 and 2000 Super 12 wins, as well as 108 for Canterbury, where he helped to win the 1997, 2001 and 2004 NPC titles.

In 2005, Mehrtens signed with English club Harlequins and played a major role in leading the newly relegated club to an immediate return to the top-level Guinness Premiership. Following his time with Harlequins, Andrew moved to France to play for Toulon, Racing Metro and Beziers.

Wayne Barnes is one of the most well-known rugby officials on the scene; he became a professional referee in April 2005, aged 25, the youngest ever to be appointed.

He refereed his first International match, Fiji against Samoa in Suva, this was followed by refereeing his first RBS 6 Nations game between Italy and France and the opening match of the 2007 Tri-Nations between South Africa and Australia.

In September 2007 he was selected as one of 12 referees at the Rugby World Cup in France; the youngest referee ever to be appointed.

More recently Wayne was selected to referee at England 2015, he joined an elite group of referees who have refereed at three Rugby World Cups.

During the tournament he refereed New Zealand against Argentina at Wembley, the quarter-final between Wales and South Africa and the semi-final between Australia and Argentina where he became the most capped Rugby World Cup referee of all time; having refereed 15 games over the three tournaments.

Dubai Gazette