x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Mum's mixed feelings

The presence of two Fijians, Josh Drauniniu and Isoa Damudamu, in the England side in the Dubai Rugby Sevens confused many supporters - not least Drauniniu's mother.

DUBAI // The presence of two Fijians, Josh Drauniniu and Isoa Damudamu, in the England side in the Dubai Rugby Sevens confused many supporters - not least Drauniniu's mother. England coach Ben Ryan made the most of the IRB's three-year residency rule to recruit Army private Damudamu last year. Then he repeated the trick with Drauniniu, who serves in the Royal Navy and he made a thrilling debut at The Sevens, scoring with his first touch of the ball.

Drauniniu's switch from serviceman to international rugby player happened so quickly he did not have time to tell his parents back in his homeland. He said before the tournament he was hoping to play against Fiji because he guessed his mum and dad would be watching on TV. He was right, and his mother, Arieta Drauniniu, admitted she had mixed feelings watching her son play a key role in his adopted country's 28-5 win over the country of his birth.

"We were all very proud of him," she said. "I was so excited to see him play for England and help his team do well. I was cheering both sides." pradley@thenational.ae