Teachers school ex-rugby leaguers of Joining Jack at Dubai Rugby Sevens with last-chance try

The International Vets tournament will have an unexpected semi-final interloper after a last-play try by a science teacher from Abu Dhabi caused an abrupt end to Joining Jack’s campaign.
Joining Jack side training. A late try by Stefan’s British Heart Foundation sent them out at the Dubai Rugby Sevens. Satish Kumar / The National
Joining Jack side training. A late try by Stefan’s British Heart Foundation sent them out at the Dubai Rugby Sevens. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // The International Vets tournament will have an unexpected semi-final interloper after a last-play try by a science teacher from Abu Dhabi caused an abrupt end to Joining Jack’s campaign.

Alistair Thompson, a master at the British School Al Khubairat, scored in the corner to give the Stefan’s British Heart Foundation side a 5-0 win over the celebrated cast of ex-rugby league internationals.

Being in the right place at the right time was quite a feat by Thompson, the former UAE captain.

It was lucky he was even at the right game, let alone in position to catch the winning pass, given that he also had coaching commitments with his school and Abu Dhabi Saracens.

It put his side into a semi-final early this morning against J9 Legends, who are no less gilded than Joining Jack and were losing finalists in this competition last year.

“It just gets tougher,” Thompson said. “We have a semi against a formidable J9 side, but we go into the match with much confidence from our performances so far.”

The triumph was a sweet one for Jo Czerpak, who set up the side in memory of his father, Stefan, and who was celebrating 10 years of them playing at the Dubai Sevens. “It was definitely the best result we have ever had, but we were quietly confident ahead of it,” said Czerpak, who also teaches at BSAK.

“This tournament is the hardest it has ever been, and we have J9 next, so the next wave is about to come along.”

Old habits remain difficult to shake for Joining Jack. For the past three years, they have brought with them more household names than any other side, but they are yet to get near to silverware. Much of the time, this has been due to the fact their players have struggled to grasp the finer points of the union code.

To remedy the situation, they recruited Andy Farrell last year.

Not just anyone, then, but a former dual-code international of great repute, a British & Irish Lions coach, and the current England assistant coach. Farrell was still having to talk his side through the fundamentals of the line-out, for instance, in the quarter-finals against Stefan’s BHF.

Joining Jack may have been the celebrity side, but it was the part-timers lining up opposite who made the most-vivid contributions to the highlights reel.

At one point, Alan Royer, one of the Stefan’s players, threw an American football-style pass that spanned a large portion of the width of the field.

Now a date on the main field in front of 45,000 is within touching distance.

“This group of players has never played on Pitch 1 before,” Czerpak said.

“We have a good set of players here, so you never know.”

pradley@thenational.ae

Follow us on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 5, 2014 04:00 AM

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