x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 October 2017

Mike McFarlane: Abu Dhabi Harlequins so strong even Quins 2 could make Dubai Sevens final

Mike McFarlane is confident his club can inscribe their name on the Gulf Men’s League trophy at Dubai Rugby Sevens for a third year in succession this weekend.

Abu Dhabi Harlequins are unbeaten at the Dubai Rugby Sevens in 12 matches since losing the 2013 final to Jebel Ali Dragons. Pawan Singh / The National
Abu Dhabi Harlequins are unbeaten at the Dubai Rugby Sevens in 12 matches since losing the 2013 final to Jebel Ali Dragons. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // Mike McFarlane, the Abu Dhabi Harlequins coach, is confident his club can inscribe their name on the Gulf Men’s League trophy at Dubai Rugby Sevens for a third year in succession this weekend. Whether it will say Harlequins 1, though, he is unsure.

Few teams have been quite as dominant at the Sevens in recent years as the club from the capital. They are unbeaten in the 12 matches since losing the 2013 final to Jebel Ali Dragons.

In that time they have racked up a combined tally of 436 points for, to 31 against, meaning they have scored an average of over 36 points per match.

More Dubai Rugby Sevens:

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• The story of Ben Ryan: Paul Radley documents the influence of Ryan in the rise of Fiji’s sevens side

• Dan Carter: How All Blacks superstar Dan Carter ended up as a waterboy at Dubai Sevens 2006

McFarlane is aware the chasing pack have strengthened, with the obvious challenge most likely to come from Dubai Exiles, Jebel Ali Dragons and Doha. But the coach believes his side are the strongest they have been to date, too.

“Selection has been near on impossible, especially coming out of such a strong XVs season,” said McFarlane, whose unbeaten XVs side are top of the West Asia Premiership.

“That has been a good chance to look at their attributes, but it is only when you get onto an emptier pitch that you can look at their speed.

“We have two equally strong sides, which potentially could go on and win it. We have Quins 1 and Quins 2, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Quins 2 went on to make the final.”

The two sides met in the semifinal of the Eden Park Sevens tournament at Dubai Sports City last month, with the firsts going on to beat Dubai Exiles in the final.

“These lads have been knocking each other around, fighting for positions,” McFarlane said.

“Both have a right to push each other to try to win it, and I’ll be treating both evenly as well. They will get the same from training, to provisions, so it is an equal playing field for both to go for it.”

pradley@thenational.ae

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