The pioneering Dubai College girls’ team are aiming to put UAE rugby on the map when they play at the Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens in London for the first time this week.
The side from the Al Sufouh-based school will play in the Under 18 section of the tournament, which is said to be the largest schools rugby tournament in the world.
Initially a tournament played between British public schools, Rosslyn Park Sevens now involves nearly 10,000 boys and girls, from schools in countries as diverse as China, India, Nigeria and Poland.
There are 48 teams in Dubai College’s competition, with DC and a school from Belgium the only ones from beyond the British Isles. It is the first time a girls side from UAE has played in the event.
“The boys in our age group have gone to play there before, but we didn’t even know there was a girls’ tournament,” Megan Theocharis, DC’s captain and one of five UAE national team representatives in the team, said.
“We saw some photos of girls playing. In September, our coach decided we have a good team this year, so looked in to entering [the tournament].
“We just want to go out and smash it. We have a really strong team this year. We want to go out and test the other teams, who probably think we’re just this school from Dubai.”
The side will depart for London on Tuesday. They have a friendly fixture planned for Wednesday, before the main competition takes place on Friday.
DC only played their first full-contact girls’ tournament earlier in the school year. They acknowledge they are unable to benchmark themselves against their prospective opponents as yet, but are confident of making a mark.
“This is my first time knowing about it, but I am so excited to play,” said Femke Soens, another of the DC players.
“It is our first time as UAE girls. We are going as DC, but are also representing the UAE. I am really excited for the chance to show them we are actually worthy of playing there.
“I’m excited to prove this is something we are capable of as a whole nation.”
According to Epeli Davetawalu, the team’s coach, the side are intent on setting an example for the successors at school to follow.
“The school and the rugby coaches wanted to do what we could do take girls rugby to the next level, and that was to expose them to big competitions,” Davetawalu said.
“They love the sport. It builds character through teamwork, and that is what they are doing at the moment.
“We always tell these girls, ‘You are the ones who set the standards for the ones who are following’. They want to create a legacy and that is why we are grateful to have this trip.
“The standard of rugby in the UK is more developed than here in the UAE. This is a good chance to go and see what level we are in the UAE, and see where we need to go and move up.
“We are going there with a purpose, and to give our best. Wins will come if you give your best.”