Dubai College might have been forgiven for feeling they had a fair bit to live up to when they made their debut at the Gulf Under 19 Girls tournament this weekend.
After all, their school’s male side are the most successful side in the history of the Boys equivalent at the Emirates Dubai Sevens.
They need not have worried, though. DC’s girls lived up to expectations in style, claiming their own title at the first attempt with a dominant 33-12 win over Jumeirah English Speaking School in the Pitch 1 final on Friday.
While they were competing as a school for the first time, they were not short of experience of finals on the main field. A number of their players had been part of the Dubai Exiles side which won the title 12 months earlier.
“To be with this team, full of new girls, young girls as well, it was just absolutely amazing to bring home the win for our school on Pitch 1,” Annabelle Garner, the side’s vice-captain, said.
“I started playing rugby four years ago and I have grown to love it. I think it is an amazing sport for girls here.”
Garner, a Qatar-born forward who has played for UAE at U18 and U20 level, said her side were confident ahead of the final.
“Going into any match, you are always wary of any opposition,” Garner said.
“We had played them previously, so we knew how to approach the game. But we play every game with a fresh mindset."
Another of the second-time winners, Femke Soens, was delighted to have led her side to the title, a year on from being part of the champion Exiles side.
Although she is in her last year of school, she is already planning a return to Pitch 1 at The Sevens one day. She hopes to be playing on the World Sevens Series with Belgium in the future.
For now, though, she is happy to have a great memory to take with her from her days as a schoolgirl rugby player.
“Having won it last year, seeing my captain lead the team, it has been my dream to hold the trophy and lead the girls to victory in the same way,” Soens said.
“I have played many other games, including international, but this has been a step up. It was good to be able to give my experience to the girls on the pitch.
“Being at school and with each other five days a week, it is a real honour to be representing our school. I spend most of my time there. It means a lot to win, as it is the first time DC has ever entered.
“To have a first time win, is really an honour.”