Dubai Sevens: Double delight for Hurricanes as men’s and women's teams win Gulf League titles
Men beat Bahrain as women's team trounce Emirates Firebirds Blue as club celebrates 20 years in style
On a weekend of anniversary celebrations at the 50th Dubai Rugby Sevens, Dubai Hurricanes capped turning 20 by retaining their title in the Gulf Men’s League tournament.
They then doubled up by winning the corresponding women’s tournament, too.
Tries from Saki Naisau, Toby Oakley, Blair Cochrane and Ed Lewis gave the Hurricanes men a comfortable 26-10 win over Bahrain on Pitch One.
Four hours later, their club colleagues set the seal on a dominant campaign in the Gulf Women’s, running in eight tries as they won the final against Emirates Firebirds Blue 52-0.
The club started out as Mina Seyahi Hurricanes in 1999, as replica shirts of the Wellington Super Rugby franchise of the same name were the only ones they could get hold of in time for that year’s sevens.
Two decades on, they are one of the biggest clubs in the region, and the pre-eminent force in the abridged format. This was their third Sevens title in all, and second in two years.
“It feels even better that last year,” Boris Finck, the Hurricanes captain, said.
“No Hurricanes team have ever gone back-to-back, so we made history for the club, which is unbelievable.
“Again, being on Pitch One and winning is a phenomenal feeling.”
Victory appeared in little doubt after early tries from two UAE sevens representatives in Naisau – who was playing in his sixth Pitch One final, across spells at three clubs – and Oakley.
“[Naisau] is Fijian, rugby is in his blood, and he has class skills,” Finck said.
“I would hate to defend against him, so I am glad he is our team. He makes such a difference.
“And Toby this year has had a hell of a tournament throughout.
"He has been playing UAE sevens, and he has really come into his own.”
Even though they appeared to be cruising at 21-5, assistant coach Matthew Pewtner gave the Hurricanes players an animated pep talk during half-time.
“I didn’t want us to be complacent,” Pewtner said.
“I knew how good Bahrain can be. In the group stages they played very well.
“I knew we had a strong bench to come on, but I wanted to keep the level and keep the standard as it was in the first half, so we could secure the victory early on and the boy could relax and enjoy it.”
Pewtner has made a significant impact on Hurricanes’ fortunes in the sevens game since joining Mike Wernham’s coaching staff in 2017.
He had been a sevens international with Wales before having his career prematurely ended by concussion, after which he moved to Dubai to teach and coach.
“It is very nerve-racking – more so in many ways, because I know I can’t have an impact on the game myself,” Pewtner said of coaching.
“But I have complete confidence in the lads. I know that when they are there representing the club, and representing us as coaches, they are going to do a really good job.”
Updated: December 7, 2019 07:52 PM