Shortly after a club whose history predates the formation of the UAE had reclaimed the Gulf Men’s League title, the region’s newest rugby club were celebrating a first trophy of their own.
Dubai Sports City Eagles were set up with grand ambitions less than six months ago - more than half a century after Dubai Exiles had started rugby on these shores.
At their first Dubai Rugby Sevens, the Eagles secured the Gulf Women’s title in commanding fashion, beating Emirates Firebirds 29-0 in the final on Pitch 2.
The fact this was the Eagles’ debut should not mask the fact their success was hardly a shock. They are undefeated so far in the domestic league, and had high expectations at the season’s showpiece tournament.
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“It feels unreal, you cannot describe this feeling,” Holly Murphy, the Eagles leading tryscorer, said. “A lot of time, dedication and commitment went into this, by both the club and players. It is a whole club effort, not just a team effort.
“Many of the girls here have been out in the Gulf for a number of years now, attached to all different clubs. When the Eagles was set up, we wanted a new challenge and a change, and we took the opportunity. We aimed for this from the very beginning.”
Murphy, who previously played handball and basketball to international level, and is also a boxer, has played at the Sevens for the past eight years. This was the first time, though, she had tasted trophy success.
“For a lot of us, this is the first time we have ever won, so this means a lot to us,” she said. “We came together, I suppose as underdogs from different clubs, and said we want to be winners.”
Darrell McEwen, the Eagles coach, said his team were proud to be pioneers as the first team to provide silverware for the club’s trophy cabinet at Sports City.
“This is my first year coaching sevens, and my first year coaching women, and it is different, but thoroughly enjoyable,” McEwen said.
“They have been undefeated all season. That comes down to the girls’ determination and willingness to work for each other and not let each other down.”