x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Fierce competition on opening day of Dubai Sevens

As the UAE celebrates National Day, one of its greatest attributes is being a genuine international destination and that was prevalent on day one of the Dubai Rugby Sevens.

DUBAI // As the UAE celebrates National Day, one of its greatest attributes is being a genuine international destination and that was prevalent on day one of the Dubai Rugby Sevens.

The main World Series competition starts in earnest tomorrow, invitational teams far and wide descended on to The Sevens in Dubai and served up a cracking spectacle of the short form of the game.

While, day one is often described as the social side to the popular sport, competition in the 10 support tournaments remains as fierce as ever and none more so than the Gulf Men’s event.

Dubai Dragons, the defending champions from 2008 and 2009, got off to a shaky start in their opening pool match against Muscat before Trent Eastgate, their captain, helped steer them to a 35-12 victory.

Despite their sloppy start to their title defence, Eastgate remains positive that the Dragons will make it a hat-trick of titles.

“We gelled together in the second half,” he said. “It was a good start for our first game. I am very confident, without sounding zealous that we are definitely the team to beat. We have a good bunch of guys with a lot of skill.

“Let’s just say that it could be three out of three.”

However, the Dragons will have to wait until tomorrow morning to complete their pool matches after the forfeit of a Bahrain side which is something not ideal for Eastgate.

“Sevens is a hard game, and we’d like to have played as many games as we can at the start to get better and better. It sucks, but that is the way it goes.”

Elsewhere, the International Veterans competition remains one of the highlights of the whole Sevens weekend once again with the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation (CNCF), littered with former  England international players such as Dan Luger and Chris Sheasby and the 92-capped Irish lock Malcolm O’Kelly, looking like the team to beat once again.

CNCF got their title defence off to an emphatic start, defeating  Swansea University Old Boys 40-0 and then the Brussels Barbarians 59-0.

Luger, who scored 21 tries for England, is happy to being playing again with familiar faces in Dubai and for a good cause. “It is great to see each other again in an environment that is chilled out. You don’t necessarily get the chance to do that when you areplaying professional rugby.”

In the hotly contested Invitational Open, the Wooden Spoon Blues, another team playing for charity, won both of their opening pool matches against a the Duke of Wellington Regiment and Lahore RFC.

Elswhere in the draw, the Pyrenees 7s, who were defeated the by Spoons in last year’s final have also started on the right foot with a  58-0 win over Wyvern Harlequins and a 19-19 draw against Aqua Marine UAE.

In the Gulf Ladies competition, there were opening wins for TOA Dubai Ladies, Sharjah Wanderers, Dubai Hurricanes Ladies and Dubai Exiles Ladies.

snelmes@thenational.ae

Selected matches
International Social

Hollywood 7s 45 - 0 Naga Rebels
Pontacq 7 43 - 0 7 Wonders
Islamabad Irregulars 38 - 7 Moscow Dragons


International Open
Wooden Spoon Blues 29 - 7 The Duke of Wellingtons Regiment
Pyrenees 7s 19 - 19 Aqua Marine UAE
Kuwait Saracens 5 - 19 Ukraine


International Vets
CNCF Vets 59 - 0 Brussels Barbarians
Xodus Steelers 29 - 7 Bishops Stortford Vets
Bali Legends 12 - 0 Racing Vets


Gulf Under 18s Men
Abu Dhabi Harlequins 19 - 26 Al Ain Amblers
Dubai College 61 - 0 Arabian Potbellies
Dubai Exiles 0 - 29 The British School Al Khurbait


Gulf Women's

TOA Dubai Ladies 35 - 0 Dubai Irish Celts
Sharjah Wanderers 45 - 0 Kuwait Scorpions
Abu Dhabi Harlequins Ladies 7 - 42 Dubai Exiles Ladies


Gulf Men’s
Doha 7 - 21 Bahrain RFC
Dubai Dragons  I 35 - 12 Muscat
Abu Dhabi Harlequins 1 50 - 0 TOA II
Dubai Exiles RFC I 38 - 0 Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2


Gulf Men’s Open
Damascus Zenobians 0 - 29 Emirates Flying Muppets
Fujairah RFC 24 - 5 Riyadh Warriors
Riyadh Falcons 7 - 17 Arabian Potbellies RFC