x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Stars of Dubai College thrive at Sevens

James Capon and Sam Bullock both play key roles in a final victory in the Gulf Under 18s tournament against British School Al Khubairat.

Dubai College's James Capon, right, was one of his team's four try scorers in the final against British School Al Khubairat. Mike Young / The National
Dubai College's James Capon, right, was one of his team's four try scorers in the final against British School Al Khubairat. Mike Young / The National

It is little wonder Samoa had such a troubled time in the Dubai Rugby Sevens at the weekend.

The former world series champions ended up scraping the barrel in the lowest rung Shield competition after a deflating run of losses.

But then they had spent one of their final training sessions before the competition kicked off trying to catch James Capon, the Dubai College (DC) full-back. They were probably exhausted by the time the real action started.

"We had a warm up game of non-contact, fun rugby against the Samoans last week because they were training at the college, and he was matching them for pace," Andy Jones, the director of sport at DC, said.

"It was unbelievable. It is not just his pace, but his acceleration over the first 20 or 30 metres is [brilliant], and in sevens that is all you need. Once he has seen the gap, he is gone."

The friendly encounter may not have done Samoa any favours in the build up, but it evidently worked for the school side.

DC is traditionally the UAE's strongest rugby school. However, for the past three years they had lost out in the semi-finals at the Sevens, a competition which they had dominated with five successive titles before then.

They reclaimed their crown by beating the holders, the British School Al Khubairat (BSAK), in front of 40,000 people on Saturday afternoon.

Predictably, a try from Capon - a 90 yard dash with a couple of sidesteps of which his idol, Jason Robinson, who was present at the Sevens for the tournament, would have been proud - laid the platform.

While his score was the most eye-catching moment in DC's comfortable win over their Abu Dhabi rivals, Capon's running skills were matched by the unerring kicking of Sam Bullock.

The scrum-half, who also crossed the whitewash himself, did not betray a hint of nerves as he knocked over one conversion from the far right-hand touchline.

"Before the match, we all wanted to go out and enjoy the whole atmosphere of it," said Bullock, 16, who was part of the DC side who lost out to English College in the semi-final 12 months earlier.

"I love kicking. I actually didn't feel a lot of nerves when I was out there, but I was glad to see it go over."

Ed Lewsey, the director of rugby at BSAK, said Bullock was the "outstanding player on the field".

"He played with such composure and had a great kicking game," Lewsey said.

"He scored a try down the short side and the converted from the touchline. He put us under pressure and really rose to the occasion. He looks to have a good future in the game."

The composure shown by the schoolchildren in front of a teeming crowd, which was just coming to the boil after three days of competition, was remarkable.

"On a packed Pitch One, [Bullock's] kicking was of the highest standard," Jones said. "He seemed to thrive on the pressure which was great."

Cyrus Homayoun, who first learnt the game while a pupil at DC after converting from basketball aged 14, played for the UAE in the world series competition this weekend.

Given the way the current vintage thrived when they were granted their chance on the same stage, the Emirati wing is unlikely to be the last DC Old Boy to graduate to national honours.

"We were so focused on the game we couldn't hear any of the commentary," Bullock said. "My friends were saying, 'Oh, did you hear your name said by the commentator?'

"I didn't hear any of it, and could hardly even hear anyone screaming from the crowd. We were so focused on winning.

"It sunk in when he [the referee] blew the whistle and when we did our one lap of honour. I was getting congratulations from people I didn't even know."

pradley@thenational.ae