x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dubai Sevens: Crombie is flying since joining Dragons from Scotland

Former Scotland sevens player Sean Crombie has already collected three medals during his brief stay in the UAE.

In his four weeks with the Jebel Ali Dragons Sean Crombie has won three medals already.
In his four weeks with the Jebel Ali Dragons Sean Crombie has won three medals already.

A former Scotland sevens player will add to the list of major IRB series venues he has played at this weekend, although the view will be slightly different this time.

Sean Crombie played international rugby sevens in Wellington, San Diego, Hong Kong and Adelaide on the 2006/07 world series.

The dark blue playing colours may be the same, but his teammates are different today, as he spearheads the Jebel Ali Dragons' bid for a fourth Gulf Men's title in the space of five years.

"We have the strongest squad possible available for this weekend - as you would expect, as everyone makes themselves available for Dubai," Crombie said. "I'm excited to be involved in it."

Having ended a professional career which took in stints in Scotland, England and South Africa, Crombie made the move to the UAE last month to start a new life in Dubai's fitness industry.

The outlook is different now to times past. "There are full-time contracts available for Scotland sevens now, but at the time it got to the point where I had to concentrate on XVs," he said.

"I got a bit too light playing sevens all the time. To be on that circuit as a full-time player must be good. The level sevens is at now, it is a full-time commitment. Financially, I could never make it work.

"To be honest, the guys who are there now are miles ahead of where I was at when I was playing."

He signalled his allegiance to the Dragons even before he left the UK, and has been enjoying a fine time of it on the field since touching down in Dubai.

After four weekends of rugby, he already has three medals. First, he was man of the match on his full debut as the Jebel Ali side won the UAE Premiership, the top domestic competition here.

Since then, the Dragons won both their home sevens and the Al Ain Amblers tournament, to clinch the UAE Sevens Series in preparation for this weekend.

"He is obviously a class player having played for Scotland sevens before and we are lucky to have him in our squad," Shane Thornton, the Dragons player-coach, said.

Unusually, for someone who plays in the front-row in the XVs game, Crombie is employed on the wing by the Dragons in the abridged format. It is a clue to the fact he has rare pace for a hooker.

"I probably have a good 40 or 60 metres in me, then most people reel me in," he said. "From a young age I had a natural speed and I worked on it with conditioning over the years. Playing a high level of sevens consistently helps the speed side of it.

"I still try and keep it going, even if it is just part of my warm up. I'm not going to break any 100-metre records, but if I can stay as fast as possible it obviously helps when you are playing."

pradley@thenational.ae

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