A new name was etched onto the International Vets trophy at the Dubai Rugby Sevens, but many of the faces involved were among the most familiar anywhere at the tournament this weekend.
A 100 World Legends Project team including former world sevens player of the year Ollie Phillips, as well as former All Blacks Luke McAlister and Troy Flavell, beat Racing Foundation 26-19 in the final of the 10-a-side event.
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The defeated side were not short of pedigree of their own. Fabian Juries, who remains one of the leading try-scorers on the World Sevens Series, despite it being eight years since he last played for South Africa in it, provided the bulk of their points.
The most memorable moment of the final was provided by Sireli Bobo, the former Fiji international, who threw a one-handed pass 32 metres across the field. That is almost one metre for every hour it took him to get to Dubai from Fiji.
Phillips, who scored one of the four tries for the victors in the final, was returning to the city where he had starred so often in England colours in the past.
He was part of the side that won the Emirates International Trophy at the Exiles in 2004, and was a regular visitor – as often as injury permitted – with England thereafter.
“This is where it all began for me, in 2004, and I will never forget it,” Phillips said.“It is such a special place, so to go out there and do that with these lads, some guys who I grew up with, respected massively, and some who I even idolised, was fantastic. It was great to be out there again.
“I loved it. Injury deprived me of the last few years of my career, so to go out there and play on that pitch, with a superb group of players was incredible.
“You sometimes forget how special it is. Rugby is special, and this place Dubai is a special place, too.”
Paul Radley looks back on 10 years of rugby at The Sevens