Briars Women’s Rugby win in Borneo!

Briars Women’s Rugby have won the Plate Final at the Borneo 7s with a gutsy win over the Uzbekistan National team 12-5 in hot and sweaty conditions after 3 days of competition. 

Briars Women’s Rugby were invited to compete at the Borneo 7s by Eagles Rugby Club and Asia Rugby. With 8 women’s teams competing, including national sides from Singapore, India, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and the Borneo Eagles side a mix of professional players from NZ and Malaysia. Briars finished in 5th place winning the Plate final against Uzbekistan Rugby. This placed Briars as the top club side in the tournament.

The Borneo 7s is dubbed the Greenest 7s in the World, played near the rainforests of Sandakan in the north-east of the island of Borneo, just north of the equator. These rainforests are famed for their famous wildlife of orangutans, proboscis monkeys and sun bears and infamous palm plantations.

Briars flew out to Kuala Lumpur then onto Sandakan with a long 18 hour commute overnight on 14 March, ready for a swim in the hotel pool on arrival and a team dinner at a rooftop establishment. With a few players on their first ever international trip, friendships were built quickly within the team to make everyone comfortable in a new country and culture.

The next morning started early with a training session to acclimatise and hopefully miss the heat of the day (was still very hot!). A tour of Sandkan took up the rest of the day to visit a number of wildlife sanctuaries to see the Proboscis monkeys, Sun Bears and Orangutan’s. The team were very excited to get up close with the wildlife and enjoy feeding time in the wild habitats. The day finished with dinner with all the teams and ensuring that our team mascots were not stolen by the other teams (yet attempted to steal the other teams mascots).

Day 1 of the tournament started with a very moving visit to the Sandakan War Memorial, built in the former grounds of the former Sandakan WW2 POW camp which was populated with mostly Australian and English soldiers. The site is dedicated as a memory for all prisoners in the camp who died during the Sandakan Death Marches.

With only one game in the afternoon, the team were excited to finally get their boots on and warmed up. With a late change to the draw, Briars were playing the Indian national side. The team were confident in the opportunity but a well drilled and disciplined Indian side got a hard fought win 12 – 19 for game 1 in front of a big crowd including 30 local pre-school kids who thought the team were superstars. The team were disappointed in the result and after a team meeting and review of the game we were ready to compete the next day.

Day 2 of the tournament had two games scheduled to finish off the pool games. Our first game was against Kazakhstan who were recently defeated in Dubai. The Dubai team was their U20s side and this game was against the National side, a favourite for the competition. Briars kept their heads up, defended well but couldn’t find the try line against a strong side, losing 0 – 24.

After some soul searching the team came back together for their last game of the pools vs Malaysian club side Labuan Wipers.The team’s confidence built after their first try and a bit more space to play in, winning the game 31 – 5. A much happier team to get a win on the board and building into finals on Day 3.

Day 3 of the tournament saw all team in the mix for finals. Placing 5th out of the pools Briars were up against 4th place India again. Knowing we had a close game in the pools, the team was confident but India had also grown and picked holes in our defence to win the match 0 – 31. This put Briars into the Plate competition with two wins needed to take home some silverware.

The Plate semi-final was against another Malaysian club team, Convent Jaguars. Both teams had built a fun relationship over the tournament and with a delay from previous games an impromptu dance party erupted in the players tunnel to keep everyone moving and excited. This definitely helped the Briars, taking out the game 49 – 0.

The Plate Final vs Uzbekistan was to be our opportunity to win a trophy to bring home and the team rose to the occasion. A tough game after 3 days of competition, high temperatures, humidity, a bit of sunburn and a lot of karaoke, Briars scored twice to Uzbekistan’s one try to win 12-5.

The team accepted their trophy and medals in front of a big crowd at the stadium and were swamped by locals to get photos with the players (and coaching staff!). Celebrations continued into the night with all the teams having an end of tournament dinner together and entertainment provided by each team as a tradition.

The Briars Women’s team should be very proud of their achievement, competing well against well drilled semi-professional players as amateur club players. The team continues to grow in their ability and experience and now look forward to a strong local season in Sydney.

Briars Women’s Rugby thank everyone for their continued support of the team from Briars Sports, sponsors, fans, friends and family.

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