x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Williams happy to be back working with the regulars

Chester Williams had only a few days to prepare his Goal Attained side to play at the Dubai Rugby Sevens, but it was a far easier task than his last coaching assignment.

DUBAI // Chester Williams had only a few days to prepare his Goal Attained side to play at the Dubai Rugby Sevens, but it was a far easier task than his last coaching assignment.

The former South Africa winger was the rugby consultant for the film Invictus, meaning he had to teach the Hollywood star (but rugby novice) Matt Damon how to play the game well enough for him to pass off as Francois Pienaar.

Goal Attained were offered the chance to play in the International Invitational when another side pulled out last Sunday.

Williams assembled his side at a moment's notice, calling in some favours to get the likes of Jonathan Mokuena, the former Springbok sevens captain, to play. They were eventually beaten in the semi-finals.

"These guys are a lot better than Matt Damon because they are regular players back at home," said Williams, who dovetails coaching with his job as director of a diesel distribution company.

"It is a pity we lost out because these guys really wanted to be in the final. Unfortunately, we didn't get it right but hopefully we will next year."

Williams, 40, has had no problem fitting back in to everyday life following his brush with superstardom. "They are professional when they work but when they are off duty they are very sociable," Williams said of Damon, Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood, the director of Invictus.

"It was an amazing time in 1995. That World Cup [on which Invictus is based] was amazing and helped to unite the country."

Mike Friday had the unusual distinction of winning a Dubai Sevens trophy as a player, five years after winning as a coach, last night.

Friday led England to back to back successes as coach in 2004 and 2005. This time around he piloted Christina Noble's all-star side to their fourth successive title in the International Veterans competition.

An hour later, Friday was back in his coaching tracksuit, overseeing the England women's team - in the guise of Samurai Dubai - win the International Women's title.