x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

50 year old is still in the hunt for Hurricanes

The veteran prop marks a half-century of successes at Rugby Sevens in Dubai.

Andy Hall, right, helped Abu Dhabi Hurricanes to victory over Sharjah Fat Old Boys at The Sevens yesterday.
Andy Hall, right, helped Abu Dhabi Hurricanes to victory over Sharjah Fat Old Boys at The Sevens yesterday.

DUBAI // A Fijian farmer subverted the idea that rugby's abridged version is a young man's game by debuting in the world series last weekend at a mere 39 years young.

Sainivalati Vunibola still has a few years left to go before he matches the feats of Andy Hall, the Dubai Hurricanes prop, though.

Hall played his 50th match in his ninth year of Gulf Veterans Tens tournament rugby at The Sevens yesterday. His side won, fittingly, given that the UK-born fire and safety consultant is 50.

It is difficult to imagine any one of the 1,750 or so players who will take the field at The Sevens this weekend could match his Dubai record.

The Hurricanes Vets are peerless in the competition. In the eight they have played since they first entered, they have won six and reached the final in the other two.

Given that each of the finals before this year have been played in front of the teeming stands of Pitch One, the ever-present Hall has appeared in front of an aggregate audience of approximately 300,000 in that time.

You would have thought he would be used to it after all this time, but not so.

"I feel like a duck on top of the water: what you see on the surface and what is actually going on underneath are two very different things," Hall said. "I woke up at 4am this morning with nerves and had to go for a walk."

The Hurricanes Vets were typically dominant again yesterday. Hall's 50th win appropriately arrived 35-0 against Sharjah Fat Old Boys - the Hurricanes were originally founded by a group of former Sharjah Wanderers players - having beaten the Lanka Lions 40-7 in their first match.

"This is supposed to be my last [Dubai Sevens]," Hall, who has played first XV rugby for the Hurricanes this season, said.

"I will be in and out of the region next year so will not be able to commit, but you never know."