Briars Women’s Place 5th at Dubai 7s
After a long lead up, fundraising and training the Briars Women’s Rugby 7s team departed for Dubai in the early hours of the morning on Monday 28 November. A long 14 hour plane ride was ahead of them but everyone was very excited to get over there that not much rest was had for the flight.
Arriving in Dubai on Monday afternoon, the first highlight on the trip to our hotel was seeing the Burj Khalifa rising from the desert, towering over the expansive city of Dubai. It was now a reality that the team were in town and ready for the biggest 7s tournament in the world. A relaxing day settling into town and a team dinner rounded out the day with some much needed rest and an early night to try and get into the right timezone.
Tuesday morning started with a beach training session to get accustomed to the heat of Dubai and get moving after a long flight. With limited grass pitches around, Kite beach was the best option we had, using Esperia Volleyball Academy’s facility (https://www.volley.ae/).
Next up we had a surprise for the team. Briars had been invited to the Aussie Women’s 7s (@aussie7s) training session at a Dubai high school which was being used by the World Series teams for training. A definite highlight to see the level of intensity and discipline the Aussie team put into every session.
Finishing off the day, we were off on a sunset desert safari. Quad bike riding, camel rides, 4WD dune bashing, sunset over the sand dunes and a BBQ dinner were all included in a great team adventure.
The last day before the tournament began was mostly a free day for sightseeing finishing off with a captains run at an amazing facility in downtown Dubai under the shadow of Burj Khalifa, Ballers (@ballersdubai). The team were presented their jerseys by Briars International coach Stuart Ryan and Briars Women’s Rugby President David Lannan. A team dinner next to an aquarium (complete with sharks and mermaids) finished off the night and we were ready for Tournament Day 1, working towards our goal to place Top 2 in the group and see how far we could then go!
Back Row: Stu Ryan (coach), Breanna Raymond, Annabel Woo, Courtney Miller, Awhina Akuhata, Bianca Bennetts, Sam Small, David Lanna (President)
Front Row: Ashlee Scott (chaperone), Chloe Bromage, Rachel Simpson, Kate Mateffy, Taylah Watson, Josephine Maejiirs, Pui San Lai
Briars were scheduled for two games on day 1 of the event. Turning up to such an amazing facility was definitely inspiring to the team. With 8 rugby fields, including the main stadium plus a swimming pool and recovery facilities it was definitely worthy of its reputation as the biggest 7s tournament the world (@dubai7s). The sun was out with a top of 31c it was definitely going to test our fitness.
Briars v Tabusoro Angels International (@tabusoroangels)
10 – 10
The first game was against an international invitational team, Tabusoro Angels, based in Norway with Fijian roots. The team consisted of national level players from across Europe, having won the Dubai 7s in 2018 and 2019, Briars knew we were up for a big game. With some early jitters we settled into the game. With tries from Bree Raymond and Taylah Watson scores were locked at 10-10, Angels got a break down the far wing and we thought we were beat but a massive chase and big tackle from Chloe Bromage saw Angels drop the ball over the line and seal the draw.
Briars vs Kazakhstan (@qazaqstanrugby)
26 – 7
The second game was an international affair but not Briars first, playing their first international games earlier in the year against Thailand, Singapore and UAE. Kazakhstan were rumoured to play a similar physical game to Briars so we knew we would need to stand up to them and we started a team ready to tackle. Late mail came in that a number of Kazakhstan players were out injured after a tournament in UAE the weekend prior and that played to our strengths. The first international win for Briars with tries for Sam Small, Rachel Simpson, Breanna Raymond and Pui San Lai.
Day 2 we had our final pool game and depending on results we would move to the Cup finals on Day 3 or Plate Finals on same day. The sun was out again, the team was excited and focused for a big first game.
Briars v Rhinos Rugby (@rhinos.rugby/)
7 – 36
Rhinos went into this game undefeated with some big wins against the other group teams. Briars needed to secure Top 2 spot and all that needed was to not lose by too much. Rhinos are a professional academy team based in the USA, with players from the national sides of Sth Africa, USA, NZ, Ireland, Poland, Japan and Fiji. It was going to be a tough match.
Briars had a slow start, with a mostly defensive start, the heat was testing the fitness. Three quick tries to Rhinos saw us move back to our attacking pattern and speed to force mistakes on Rhinos and it worked. Our second half was much stronger, holding Rhinos out for most of the match and Chloe Bromage breaking the line and being the first player to score against Rhinos for the tournament. Briars held the difference and secured second spot in the group.
Our day at the ground ended early, heading back for some recovery and a team dinner to reflect on a great performance so far.
Cup Quarter Final
Briars v Tropics 7s (@tropics7s/)
19 – 21
An early morning game didn’t mean the sun went away, but we were ready to take on another professional academy team with players from across Europe and the UK, coached by renowned English player Heather Fisher. The team were up for the game and captain Bianca Bennetts had been in the ear of the coach to get the best out of the team. Briars went out strong with a perfect 7s play ending with Taylah Watson with the undercut on Breanna Raymond to find the gap and sprint down the line for a converted try. Tropics hit back, dragging our defence a bit too far and created a gap for a try. Bianca hit back with a signature tackle buster and sprint to score under the posts and another conversion. Tropics again hit back scoring two tries to go ahead by 1 point at half time 14-15. A defensive battle played out in the second half with Tropics the first to score taking the score to 14-20. A try in the last minute of the game and a captains effort from Bianca Bennetts got us to kicking the conversion to win. Unfortunately the try was forced into the corner and missed the conversion.
Another great game and cemented Briars, an amateur club from Australia 5th place at the biggest club 7s competition in the world.
The tournament finished with a party for all the players and spectators once the World Series event finalised (with Aussie Women taking top spot).
The rest of the tour was free time. A late Sunday night flight gave everyone plenty of time to get all the sightseeing in and enjoy what Dubai had to offer.
Briars look forward to heading back to Dubai and taking out the competition!
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