UAE’s chances of making it to the Rugby World Cup Sevens in South Africa next year as good as disappeared seven minutes into their opening match of the qualifying competition.
The national team conceded four tries against China in the opening half of their first match of the Dialog Asia Rugby Sevens Series at Dubai Sports City on Friday.
They bounced back pluckily from there, with second-half tries for Blair Cochrane and one for Carel Thomas. However, the 29-17 defeat essentially counted the home team out of qualification for the main event.
The two sides who make the final this weekend in Dubai will head to Cape Town for the World Cup next September.
That is now beyond UAE, though. They will play in the second-tier plate competition on Saturday, after they also lost to Japan in their final match of the pool phase.
Following the China defeat, the UAE did battle back to pick up a fine win in their second assignment of day one.
Facing a Sri Lanka side coached by England sevens great Ben Gollings, the host nation were convincing 29-7 winners.
Cochrane was again outstanding until he limped off with a knee injured. UAE racked up five tries and conceded just once.
Sakiusa Naisau crossed for the opener, with Thomas, Matt Richards, Esekaia Dranibota and Tobias Oakeley all adding their names to the scoresheet.
They also performed admirably in the last match of the night, against the might of Japan, despite losing 27-19. Naisau, Luke Stevenson and Robert Sproul all crossed for tries against the tournament favourites.