x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Arabian Gulf: giving their all to the end

The Gulf team face demanding 'warm-up' in Australia to ensure they are competitive at next month's Dubai Rugby Sevens.

Sean Hurley hopes new Gulf players will shine.
Sean Hurley hopes new Gulf players will shine.

DUBAI // The Arabian Gulf are going to extreme lengths to ensure they are competitive at next month's Dubai Rugby Sevens.

Earlier this week, the region's representative side conducted a promotional training session at -6°C inside Ski Dubai.

Their next assignment will be played in rather more clement conditions, with a maximum forecast temperature of a mild 26°C, but they are having to travel 16 hours to get there.

On Tuesday night, the students, business managers and sportswear salesmen who make up the Gulf squad will fly to Brisbane ahead of next weekend's Gold Coast Sevens.

Dress rehearsals do not come much harder than the competition on Australia's east coast.

Samoa, the world series champions who are in the Gulf's pool at the Dubai Sevens, are headlining an event which also involves emerging sides from New Zealand, Australia and the UK, as well as some Super rugby franchises.

"It is a very strong tournament, in many ways maybe even tougher than the IRB [International Rugby Board] competition at the Sevens," Sean Hurley, the Gulf captain, said.

"We have five or six players who will be getting their first taste of rugby at this level. We want to test them to see how they fare under pressure."

As always with the amateur Gulf side, the challenge on the field is unlikely to be any tougher than the logistical one they face ahead of any event.

Their 12-man squad for the tour is drawn from seven countries, four of which are outside the Gulf. Taif al Delamie, Jonny MacDonald and James Love will all jet into Dubai from various points of Britain and Ireland this week, before heading on to Australia.

The burden of organising the Gulf's roadmap to the Sevens, which will be their last before they are disbanded into separate national teams, has been a heavy one.

Hurley has had to juggle his rehabilitation from an ankle injury with arranging the logistics of the tour, as well as his day job as a business development manager.



The squad

Sean Hurley (captain, Dubai Dragons), Taif al Delamie (Lansdowne and Muscat), Jonny MacDonald (University of Cardiff and Abu Dhabi), James Love (Hartpury College and Bahrain), Chris Gregory, Duncan Murray, Khaled Helal, Brad Barker (Dubai Hurricanes), Rory Binder, Dan Bell, Shane Stapleton (Bahrain), Jason Voyce (Muscat)