x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Cullen guides Toa to their first trophy

Toa Dubai, the region's newest rugby club, collected their first major prize in Gulf competition at the weekend, as they landed the Sharjah 10s title with the help of an influential friend.

Toa Dubai, the region's newest rugby club, collected their first major prize in Gulf competition at the weekend, as they landed the Sharjah 10s title with the help of an influential friend. Christian Cullen, the former All Blacks winger, arrived in Dubai last Wednesday to turn out for Toa, the pro-active Emirates League club, at Sharjah Wanderers. He had not played a competitive match since retiring from professional rugby after a spell with Munster in 2006. However, he proved he has lost nothing of the old class in the intervening four years, and touched down the opening score in the 14-12 final victory over the Dubai Dragons. Cullen's input was gratefully received as Toa, who play in the second tier of Gulf rugby, bridged the gap between them and the leading sevens side in the region. Cullen and Amir Mohammed scored the tries which gave Toa the lead, yet they were forced into desperate defence with just eight men at the end. Danny Tusitala, their fly-half, was given a red card early in the final and Trevor Leota, the former Samoa hooker, was sin-binned with a minute left. "It was an amazing win for us," said John Mamea-Wilson, the captain. "It is our first major trophy, and to win it like that, defending at the end, was a good effort. It was the first time we had beaten the top sides, so we are delighted."