x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Dubai Wasps are hungry for more rugby hardware

After they secured the Gulf Conference title, the Dubai Wasps now have their eyes set on the Sharajah 10s, writes Paul Radley.

Dubai Wasps hope to carry their current win streak into the Sharjah 10s today. Jake Badger for The National
Dubai Wasps hope to carry their current win streak into the Sharjah 10s today. Jake Badger for The National

SHARJAH // The Dubai Wasps hope to embellish their celebrations by playing some "champagne rugby" at the Sharjah 10s on Friday, having finally taken possession of the Gulf Conference trophy.

The three-year-old club were presented with their most noteworthy piece of silverware to date by West Asia rugby officials at a special ceremony in Dubai on Thursday night.

The Wasps won that title by a single point ahead of the Abu Dhabi Saracens in the league standings, having claimed victory by a similarly tight margin on the field in Doha last Friday.

They secured a 32-31 win in Qatar thanks to a penalty kicked by James Bywater, their schoolboy fly-half, with two minutes of the season left.

While Bywater's thoughts will now have switched to the fact that his Dubai College team will contest the final of the UAE Under 18 Schools competition tomorrow, his Wasps colleagues have other things on their mind.

They have been drawn in the same pool at the Sharjah 10s as a charity side representing the Early Learning Centre for Down Syndrome Awareness (ELC).

As such, they will have to come up with a way to stop Carlos Spencer, the former New Zealand player, Conrad Jantjes, the ex-South Africa full-back, and the other imported stars who are making a guest appearance for ELC.

"We are in the same group as the ELC charity team and it will be good fun to play against Carlos Spencer," said Craig Gibson, the Wasps chairman.

"It has been a tough year, but we have ended it the way we hoped and hopefully the guys can play some champagne rugby in Sharjah.

"Our incentive is to win some more silverware but we understand that it is a social tournament as well and we will be having fun."

The unexpected appearance of the international players in the ELC side is a neat fillip for a long-running tournament which had threatened to have its thunder stolen as it clashes with the West Asia grand final in Abu Dhabi.

"After a season that had its ups and downs, the club are now all set for what will hopefully be the best Sharjah 10s tournament yet," said Shane Breen of the Wanderers.

"We have held on to our tradition of holding this tournament throughout years. We have great support from teams across the Middle East, without whom we couldn't continue."


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