When Covid cancelled the 2020 Emirates Dubai Sevens, it meant a cohort of senior-level schoolkids missed out on a shot at playing in a Pitch 1 final in front of thousands.
For Hannes Kruger, captain of the Dubai English Speaking School rugby team, it meant an extra year to work towards avenging a defeat in the Gulf Under 19s final.
DESC lost out in the final back in 2019 to Dubai College, the competition’s most successful side.
Two years later, DESC turned the tables on their city rivals. Kruger led the way as captain this time, scoring two tries, while his twin brother Marcus also crossed the whitewash in the 36-14 win on Friday evening.
“We knew we were facing a hard game and that DC would put up a big performance,” Kruger said.
“But we have the mentality that we trust ourselves to beat any team we are playing against.
“Before the game, we looked up and you could see many, many people, and knew it was going to be a really big game.
“But when you are actually on the pitch, you are zoned in. It is such a great feeling to win.
“It is one of the biggest tournaments in the world, so just to get the chance to play on Pitch 1 is a great feeling.”
Zane Alam scored two tries from the wing for DESC, while Alfie Wilson — who was also playing alongside a brother, as his younger sibling Max was also in the side — scored the last of their six.
Victory also gave bragging rights to one coach over another. DuRandt Gerber, co-coach of DESC, has enjoyed great success with Dubai Exiles in West Asia men’s rugby in recent seasons.
His coach at the Exiles, Jacques Benade, is also part of the DC coaching team. Gerber joked it was “about time” he got one over on Benade, but said he was mostly delighted for his players.
“Two years ago, we came close, losing to DC in the final,” Gerber said.
“Last year, there was no Dubai Sevens because of Covid. This time round, we were just focused on doing the simple things right — rucking right, kicking right — and be clinical in the things we do.
“The school is happy, I am happy. We have been targeting the Sevens as a pinnacle of the season. XVs kicks off in a month’s time and we are excited for that, but we are happy for the school with this win.
“I have been there just over two years and we have been putting back to try and give the kicks the best opportunity as possible. It has definitely paid off, because we have some class players.”