Taking place last weekend, the Dubai Rugby Sevens was a highlight on the Dubai calendar, seeing over 100,000 people attending the event over the three days. Sun & Sand Sports followed the progress of the Jumeirah College (JC) Lions and Tigers (A and B teams) on their quest for glory in their newly-designed BLK kit, sponsored by Sun & Sand Sports.
With less than one season under the direction of new coach Matthew Richards, it was hard to tell how the JC team would perform at the Dubai Rugby Sevens this year. The team hadn’t managed to this date to make it past the quarter finals so they were determined to break the curse for 2015. The group stages saw convincing wins for the Lions on day one with a 50 – NIL win over Dubai English Speaking College and a further 68 – NIL triumph over the boys of Al Yasmina School. The most challenging group match for the Lions came the following afternoon against old rivals, Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS), with a narrow victory of just 14 – 7 taking them through to the quarter finals just two hours later to fight JESS off once more, which ended with a final score of: JC Lions 10 – JESS 7. The Lions were on their way to the semi-finals against tournament favourites, Dubai College – they had done it and had broken the curse of the Dubai Rugby Sevens and made it past the quarter finals.
The group stages weren’t so kind to the Jumeirah College Tigers who saw back-to-back defeats placing them into a semi-final playoff for the shield. The Tigers kicked off with the midday heat looming on Saturday to see their first victory over a strong Deira International School, taking them through to the finals with a chance to pick up the shield. Unfortunately, with the two-hour turnaround and the midday sun beating down, the Tigers went out heroically against the NP Arabian Knights by only one converted try.
The semi-finals ended the Lions’ quest for glory in a match against a much more seasoned team with a prestigious history in the Sevens tournament: Dubai College. A strong offence from a few lost kick-offs allowed Dubai College to pick up a vital attacking momentum to gain an early couple of tries and the match saw JC Captain, Tom Stapley leave the pitch with an injury, supported by a chorus of applause from both sides. The game saw a change in momentum with the Lions gaining more possession and pressing on in attack towards the end, finishing as the more dominant team, but defeated on points.
The team’s head coach explained how earlier on in the year they had been truly outclassed to both JESS and DC but this tournament saw the fruits of their labour and real understanding of Sevens tactics, taking what had been learned on the training ground and applying it to adapt to each team that they played throughout the course of the tournament. Coach Matt speaks of the upcoming 15’s season with nothing but confidence as he goes on the tell Sun & Sand Sports that he will be inviting a few younger boys to training sessions to keep things fresh and keep the new recruits coming. He believes this will help to motivate some of the boys who are on the cusp of the team and also raise awareness around school that “If you are training and playing well for your age group that you’ll get rewarded by training with the first team.”
For more rugby-related content, check out our exclusive interview with Steve Thompson MBE who came into the Sun & Sand Sports studio to tell us about his role as ambassador for BLK sportswear and the evolving nature of rugby in the UAE.