Abu Dhabi Harlequins set themselves up nicely for a tilt at claiming a hat-trick of Gulf Men’s League titles at next week’s Dubai Rugby Sevens by winning the Eden Park 7s title at the weekend.
The tournament, hosted as usual by Dubai Sharks, saw Mike McFarlane’s men triumph in the senior Cup section with a 21-5 triumph against Dubai Exiles in the final.
Quins coach McFarlane was delighted with victory and he admitted the club are desperate to clinch a third Dubai Sevens title in a row following a 36-14 triumph against Al Ain Amblers a year ago and a 27-5 win against Doha in 2014.
“Of course we are hungry for the hat-trick of titles and that has been shown through the amount of effort shown from the boys across all teams in preparation for the Sevens,” said McFarlane, whose team are the form side domestically thus far this season, leading the way in the West Asia Premiership with four wins and a draw from five games.
McFarlane paid tribute to tournament organisers the Sharks, and said the most pleasing aspect of lifting the trophy was the form his side showed with the Dubai Sevens getting underway in just over a week.
“It was a great day, a great set-up by Dubai Sharks,” added McFarlane, who despite Quins’ success, is predicting a highly competitive Gulf Men’s League competition at The Sevens come next Thursday.
“We saw it as a fantastic opportunity to put our structures into a competitive environment with full contact. Having five teams in the competition highlighted our strength in depth and quality, with all teams making a semi-final or final.
“We were of course pleased to win the Eden Park 7s, however, we were more pleased with how we became more and more comfortable with our shapes and structures as the day progressed and we are really excited as a Club for Dubai 7s.
“The achievement was nicely capped by our ladies winning the Al Ain 7s tournament.
“The standard of sevens was impressive and with Doha and Bahrain to add to the mix, I think you’ll see the strongest tournament yet in terms of quality. We can’t wait to get to the Sevens now as one club and watch each of our men’s, ladies and under-19s perform.”
It’s been a difficult 2016/17 campaign so far for reigning West Asia and UAE Premiership champions Exiles, although coach Jacques Benade will have been encouraged by his side getting to the Eden park final.
Sevens Stadium promised a range of sponsors’ promotions and planned activities for all the family to enjoy on Dubai Rugby Sevens weekend, aiming to bring more families to the event.
With free entry for all on Thursday and free entry for under 12s for the entire weekend, there is real incentive for parents to take their kids down from December 1-3.
The Sabaa 7s Club is back for another year with a host of activities including carnival stands, face painting, bouncy castles and more. For the very little ones the dedicated nursery, Little Wonders, will make sure that parents can enjoy the rugby knowing that their children are being well looked after.
The Virgin Radio Dubai Teen Zone is back for its second year offering teenagers a chilled place to relax, listen to top radio DJ’s on the decks and play on the play station game consoles.
Organisers are reminding all visitors that buses are available on Friday and Saturday to take you back to central locations across Dubai.
Fans can purchase their tickets online at www.dubairugby7s.com or at Emirates Group Headquarters, dnata Travel Stores, Go Sport and Park n Shop.
Ryan, the mastermind of Fiji’s first ever Olympic gold medal, is widely regarded to be one of the greatest the game has ever seen and was joined at the initiative by fellow Fiji coach and history maker Chris Cracknell.
Designed by HSBC, the programme is intended to ensure a strong flow of new Emirati talent into the sport and provide a platform for youngsters to mature, enhance and show off new found skills.
Taking place at schools across Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the HSBC grassroots initiative first visited Hamdan Bin Rashed School on Wednesday morning before travelling to Dubai College in the afternoon. Sessions at Al Yasmina Academy and The British School, Al Khubairat will follow.
After the success of rugby sevens’ Olympic debut in Rio, the sport is entering into a pivotal year, with a unique opportunity to accelerate the growth of the game. HSBC’s vision for rugby sevens is a dedication to grassroots growth and through programmes such as the player pathway programme and is helping to drive participation in order to ensure a strong flow of new talent into the sport, and make sure the Olympic success isn’t a one off, but the catalyst for even greater success.
Aside from providing opportunity to emerging young talent, the HSBC grassroots initiative has also helped more seasoned youngsters begin their final preparations for the National School Boys competition, which is now a key fixture in the schedule at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens in Dubai.
One of the youngsters hoping to take part in the competition is Ahmed Sallah Ali, 16, from Hamdan Bin Rashed School, who said: “Today was awesome! Training with Ben Ryan and Chris Cracknell is an amazing experience. I’ve learnt some new tricks and one day would like to go and take on the Fiji team, but representing the UAE!”
In advance of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in three weeks’ time one further opportunity awaits three lucky individuals who have participated in the grassroots initiative. Based on attitude and dedication, a select group will be chosen to fine tune their skills in a gruelling Fiji style fitness session led by Ben Ryan on Thursday December 1st alongside rugby legends Brian O’Driscoll and George Gregan.
The Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, the first leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, takes place from Thursday 1st December to Saturday 3rd December. Over 100,000 sports fans are expected to walk through the gates at the Sevens Stadium across the three days of world class competition.