DUBAI // His training methods may not have been conventional, but the former British & Irish Lions utility back, Austin Healey, said his stint on the UK reality television show Strictly Come Dancing prepared him perfectly as he helped the Christina Nobel Vets retain the International Veterans trophy at the Dubai Rugby Sevens last night. The 36-year-old former Leicester Tiger captained the charity side, which also boasted the former duel-code Samoa international Apollo Perelini and the retired England senior Kevin Yates, as they conclusively defeated FNZ Wooden Spoon 40-7 at The Sevens.
"I found it a bit easier than expected," said Healey, who missed last year's Dubai event due to his broadcast commitments at home. "After the dancing, I lost two-and-a-half stone, so I'm really quite fit and light at the minute. I found it really easy to run around. "It's great to be involved and it's made all the better by the fact we won. I've not played [competitive] rugby for three years, so to get back out there and run around and realise just how bad shape I'm in, it's quite good fun."
Healey, who collected 51 caps at wing and scrum-half during his nine-year England career, said he would be delighted to return to the action for next year's event. "If Christina Noble invite me, I'd love to come back," he said. "It's a fantastic trip and I really enjoyed it. Saving kids lives shouldn't really be this much fun. But it is." In the Gulf Men's tournament Dubai Dragons successfully defended the silver Dallah [coffee-pot] after beating city rivals the Hurricanes 47-12.
In the Bowl final, the Toa-Ratis, a Dubai-based team made up entirely of UAE nationals, narrowly lost to the Toa first-team side 17-10 and in the International Invitational Sporting Chance Foundation fell 20-33 to the International Marauders.