Dubai Sevens: Wolves prevail in first national schools cup
Two second-half tries from Ali Mabkhot Alkorbi put the seal on a comprehensive 33-5 win for the STS Al Ain Wolves in the inaugural UAE National Schools Trophy on Saturday.
A first-half try from Ahmed Noubi gave beaten finalists VDEC some hope at the interval, with the score at 12-5, but the Wolves pulled away in the second half.
Al Ain’s other tries came from Abdullah Ateeq Al Dhaheri, Abdullah Mubarak Al Hajri and Abdallah Rashed Alsheikili. Alkorbi’s second, which was the Wolves’ fourth, was something very special, as he dodged and jinked around four VDEC defenders to touch down.
Their final try came on the final whistle. School principal Dr William Pedley was understandably thrilled that all their work and preparation had paid off.
“It’s a fantastic honour to be the first winner of this tournament,” he said. “We’re all very proud. I’m very satisfied. We’ve come a long way in a very short time. In 18 months these guys have gone from zero to a very accomplished rugby side.”
The tournament included eight schools from around the country, and the line-up also included Al Maarif, Sharjah Youth Centre, Al Safa, Al Sharawi, Al Wuheida and Al Ain Mixed.
The Wolves, who beat Al Sharawi 22-0 in the semi-final, are in effect the under-18 all-Emirati Al Ain Amblers Wolves team.
The Amblers have been putting in a tremendous effort in recent months to get more Emiratis interested in the game and they took a contingent to Kenya on a training camp last summer, but this is just the start of what Pedley hopes will be a very productive time for youngsters in the Garden City.
Pedley added: “We have two targets next year – one is to get into the Under-18 Gulf competition (at the Dubai Sevens) and then hopefully some of them will represent the UAE in the next Olympics.
“We are taking rugby very seriously in the school.”
The UAE Rugby Federation (UAERF) want 5,000 Emirati youngsters playing rugby on a weekly basis by the end of 2016. The success of this new tournament will certainly go a long way to aspiring more children to pick up the game.