Dubai Sevens: Phoenix rise to take Gulf Women’s title against Dubai Hurricanes

All-female club shock their rivals to inscribe name on trophy for first time

Emily Eglen said she was so nervous ahead of her first appearance in a Pitch 1 final at the Emirates Dubai Sevens she could not even speak.

Happily for Dubai Phoenix, though, she let her feet doing the talking after inspiring the new club to their maiden Gulf Women’s title at the Sevens.

The youngster had been one of the stars of UAE girls' rugby, but never made the final at the Sevens in her time at Dubai English Speaking College.

In her first year in the senior women’s tournament, she helped Phoenix to the title with an outstanding performance in their 22-5 win in the final against Dubai Hurricanes.

“I was so nervous, I was sat in silence, unlike everyone else,” Eglen said of the lead-in to the final on the main field.

“I was so, so, so scared. Stood in the tunnel I was starting to feel less nervous because I could hear the music, but once we were on there I didn’t notice anything else.”

The trepidation of the Phoenix players might not have solely been based on the stage they were playing on. They had yet to beat the Hurricanes in the domestic campaign this season.

Eglen said that actually lessened the pressure on them, and that “we knew how good our team is, so we were still confident”.

Helen Amos, the team’s captain, said Phoenix were shocked to find themselves four tries up before the Hurricanes made it on to the board with a late score.

“We hadn’t beaten them yet this season, but we had a really good build-up to it with two tough games, and we knew it was going to be tough,” Amos said.

“We were shocked. We were looking at the scoreboard and thinking, ‘What?’

“It was the best we have played, everyone gave 110 per cent and it just clicked for us today, whereas in other tournaments [in the regular season], it hasn’t quite.”

Amos has played in multiple Sevens, and was a winner with this team in its previous guise as the Dubai Knights Eagles.

The new side retains a core of players from back then, but she said they are happy to be complemented by young players of Eglen’s calibre.

“We just say, ‘Ems, do your thing, you are the fastest player out there, just back yourself’. She is great,” Amos said.

“If she just goes for it, they can try and get her, but they are not going to get her.”

Amos said her club, which has two women’s sides and no male colleagues or junior section, do not take the chance to play on Pitch 1 on finals day for granted.

“As soon as you are in the tunnel the nerves kick in, and I think they should,” she said.

“It means you are excited to get out there. This is not an opportunity we have always had. We have played in many finals on Pitch 2 but it has been here for the past three seasons.

“We want that to keep going and we needed a good game. It was a great game. We need it to be so they look at it and say, ‘Right, next year the women’s final is staying on Pitch 1’. It is fantastic to play on here.”

Updated: December 03, 2023, 11:36 AM