Dubai Hurricanes women’s team choose international challenge for Dubai Sevens

The Dubai Hurricanes first team will represent the UAE in the International Open Women tournament at Dubai Rugby Sevens instead of going for a Gulf Women's trophy.
Jenny Matheson, centre, of Dubai Hurricanes congratulates teammates after their match against Brazil on Sunday at Dubai Sports City ahead of Dubai Rugby Sevens. Pawan Singh / The National / November 30, 2014
Jenny Matheson, centre, of Dubai Hurricanes congratulates teammates after their match against Brazil on Sunday at Dubai Sports City ahead of Dubai Rugby Sevens. Pawan Singh / The National / November 30, 2014

DUBAI // Dubai Hurricanes have opted to represent the country in international competition this weekend, even though it inhibits their chances of winning a long overdue Gulf Women’s trophy at the Sevens.

Despite the fact the women’s national team became the first UAE side to win a trophy match last year, there will be no representative side competing this weekend.

Instead, Hurricanes, who currently lead the regular domestic league with a points differential of plus-501, have chosen to play in the International Open Women event.

Their second string will play in the Gulf Women’s tournament, meaning their chances of avenging three years worth of semi-final defeats by perennial Sevens champions Abu Dhabi Harlequins are limited.

However, Jenny Matheson, the team captain and Gulf Women’s League organiser, says the chance to test themselves in international competition was too good to miss.

“It was a big decision to make, and our chairman was really wanting to go and win the Sevens,” Matheson said.

“As a club, we are winning the Gulf League by quite a large margin and we have for the past three years.

“There are plenty of close games, but the league standings show we are ahead of everybody at the moment, so this gives us an opportunity to play at the next level.”

The International Open is the third-tier of competition – below the world series and International Invitational tournaments. As such, competition will be tough.

“Personally I think it is important to have 24 girls playing with a Hurricanes shirt on, plus the teams are sponsored by businesses so it also provides chance for exposure,” Matheson said.

Despite the absence of Hurricanes, Kevin Ashdown, the Abu Dhabi coach, insists retaining their Gulf title is far from a foregone conclusion.

“The Hurricanes may be out but there are a couple of other very good teams in the competition, in Xodus Wasps and Heartbeat Tigers,” Ashdown said.

“I think it will be a very tight competition. Success or not, it is just awesome to be there with so much rugby going on everywhere. It is the pinnacle of the year.”

Women’s regional rugby is thriving at present. In the domestic league season, 13 teams play across three divisions, with five clubs now able to field second teams.

And for the first time the Gulf Under 18s girls competition at the Sevens will be officially recognised and played on a full pitch this weekend.

“Playing on such a big stage, and in front of thousands of people, will help the girls develop their game and understand the demands of top-level rugby,” said Jill Conlon, the director of the invitational tournaments.

pradley@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 2, 2014 04:00 AM

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