Ahead of the 2019 Dubai Rugby Sevens, we’re looking back at some of the finest matches as Dubai’s oldest sporting event celebrates its 50th anniversary
Al Ain Amblers 21 Dubai College 19
Gulf Under 19s final – December 2015
Although Al Ain has plenty of sporting pedigree, in truth it is the exploits of the Garden City’s football team blossoming in the last decade which catches the attention more than anything else.
Champions of Asia in 2003, it is the men playing at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium and a certain Omar Abdulrahman who have usually filled the column inches and occupy the Google searches as opposed to the men playing the 15-a-side game.
There is also the issue of fighting for relevance among sporting teams from the UAE’s two big cities – Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
But Al Ain Amblers’ young guns certainly enjoyed their Dubai Rugby Sevens moment in the sun in 2015 when their talented under-19s side won a thrilling Gulf Under-19s final in thrilling fashion, and against juggernauts of the schools’ game, Dubai College.
Everything ahead of the final on December 5, 2015, would suggest the Garden City side would wilt in the shadow of a dominant Dubai College side – they came into the final as four-time defending champions and had swept Jumeirah College Lions aside 28-0 in the semi-final the previous day.
But Amblers were a side filled with fine talent themselves, as well as grit and determination. And they triumphed in the most jaw-dropping of fashions – Ryno de Bruyn landing an almost impossible conversion from the touchline after the hooter sounded to clinch glory.
Dubai College would have entered the final in confident mood following Saturday’s stroll against their fellow Dubai side.
And they were in control for large periods too but a brilliant counter-attack try from talented Al Ain first team player Jerry Kilicanasau – who would later go on to move to Dubai Exiles – right at the death drew the teams level and looked like it would send the final into sudden death.
Amblers had other ideas, however, and a brilliant touchline conversion from De Bruyn snatched victory.
De Bruyn had earlier kicked a similar conversion to put Al Ain into the lead for the first time at 14-12 following Euan McKinnon and Nathan Appleby tries for Dubai College.
The eye-catching Appleby then put Liam Benstead away for what looked like it would be the game-clinching try and a fifth successive successful trip to The Sevens for Dubai College before Kilicanasau and De Bruyn’s dramatic late intervention.
After learning his try and his side’s victory had reduced his father to tears, Kilicanasau revealed the final had been a very emotional occasion for him too.
“It was a pretty special try. I need to thank the lord because without him we wouldn’t have got this far,” said the prodigiously talented teenager.
“I had the ball passed to me from my team-mate James, I was telling him ‘just flip it to me, just flip it to me’ and then when I got the ball I just looked towards the try line and said ‘go for it’.
“I was confident. I thought the tackler was going to catch me but I just went for the corner and got it.”
He was quick to praise his team-mate De Bruyn though.
“Ryno’s kick was great. I couldn’t believe it. No other boy could kick it that far. My dad was crying and I was crying too,” he added.