x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dubai Hurricanes go slow on finance but strong in rugby title bid

Overcoming sleep deprivation due to a shoe-string budget, the Dubai outfit will play a Doha side enjoying home advantage for the West Asia play-off final.

Steve Smith, centre, chases down a quick during action at The Sevens Complex.
Steve Smith, centre, chases down a quick during action at The Sevens Complex.

The Dubai Hurricanes will attempt to overcome sleep deprivation, a shoe-string budget and a Doha side enjoying home advantage as they bid to clinch a third trophy in the finale of the Gulf rugby season today.

Given the meagre finances on which the majority of clubs in the region operate, the Hurricanes had to opt for the cheapest flights to get to this afternoon's West Asia play-off final in Qatar.

They will travel from Dubai on the 7.30am flight, meaning a 5am alarm call for most of the players.

When they reach Qatar, they will have to while away the time before the 3pm kick off by either lounging beside the club pool or catching up with sleep on the clubhouse floor.

Imagine Manchester United doing the same ahead of a Champions League final.

However, the players are unlikely to be cowed by the challenging build up. Given the sense of optimism gripping the club, they believe they have a good chance of adding the West Asia crown to the UAE Premiership and Dubai Rugby Sevens titles they have already won this term.

"We want to win as many trophies as we can," Steve Holohan, the Hurricanes coach, said. "I think we have become one of the best clubs in the region, developing rugby with a strong junior and mini section and women's team.

"And the first team have developed again this season after two relatively poor seasons. We are one of the biggest clubs around."

Three years ago the Hurricanes were undoubtedly the leading club in the Gulf, but that was followed by two fallow campaigns.

The decline was arrested when Brian Allen breathed new life into the club after taking over as head coach last year.

When Allen left to return to his native Australia after Christmas, the slack was taken up by Holohan and Emil Seyfferdt, a senior player who became the backs coach.

Seyfferdt epitomises the club's spirit. In December, he dislocated his shoulder in the semi-final of the Dubai Rugby Sevens Vets competition.

It did not stop him. The doctor realigned his shoulder, and he then went on to score the winning try and make a try-saving tackle in the final.

Seyfferdt, who is one of the original members of the club which was formed in 2000, has not played since. He has to miss today's trip to Doha, yet he will be there in spirit.

"With the people we have, we are more like a family than a club," he said. "When things are tough the family stick together.

"We have had a different outlook this year. We set ourselves some goals and we have achieved more than what we should have."

 

pradley@thenational.ae