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Academy teams compete on the international stage

Posted on 30th January 2023

Rugby Academy team

Hereford Sixth Form College Sport was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Dubai to take part in the World Sevens Series Sports Event in November. A Rugby 7s team and a Netball team jetted off to compete against quality opposition from around the world.

The Dubai Rugby 7s is part of the world series, which sees the best 7s teams in the world descend to the spectacular desert venue for a three-day festival of sport. The 7s team were drawn in a tough pool against South Africa Allstars, Central South Africa Invitational and Brussels 7s. All three of these teams were invitational and specialist 7s outfits so it was always going to be a challenge to compete with just a college team. The coaches challenged the players to be competitive and improve with each game which the team managed to achieve.

After a defeat on Day 1 the team responded with two much better performances on Day 2, pushing Brussels to the wire and then backing this up with a win against Central South Africa Invitational. This game was played in front of a large crowd as Dubai College had played previously and the locals all stayed to watch the team from the UK! The win meant the team were drawn against Rhino 7s from the USA and the first game up on finals day. Playing on the iconic pitch 2, the players were impressed with the college logo appearing on the big screen and even more so that Fiji, one of the best 7s teams in the world, were playing on the same pitch for game 2 and were therefore warming up.

HSFC pushed Rhino 7s, the eventual tournament winners, all the way and held the lead with 1 minute to play but just could not hold on for the win. Drawn against Enforce 7s later in the day, the team again competed well losing by a score. Andy Douthwaite, Head of Sports Academies said "The Rugby team should be very pleased with their efforts over the three days and certainly showed that a state Sixth Form College can be competitive on the world stage."

Meanwhile, the Netball team were raring to go despite having to acclimatise to playing in the 32-degree heat, which the other teams were used to. On Day one the team played Egoli Stars (South Africa), losing narrowly 5-4 and then played KZN Barbarians, losing 11-8. Day two unfortunately saw further losses against Dubai College 1s (the eventual tournament winners), Dubai English Speaking School and JESS 2s. All teams are from Dubai and therefore used to the sweltering heat!

Day three saw the girls’ best game against Enforce Netball (South Africa) in the semi-final, although just pipped to the post with a final score of 7-6, the team showed real determination and played amazingly! The team went on to play Capital Netball in the shield final, with the win going to Capital 8-6. Coach Hannah Larkin was pleased with the team’s development “the trip was an amazing experience for the girls, who grew from Day 1 to Day 3 in the tournament, which is the main thing we asked from them!”

All players greatly enjoyed the opportunity to compete in Dubai and meet other players from around the world. Teams also managed to take in some of the local sights and culture with sight-seeing of The Palm, the Burj-Al-Arab, the Burj Khalifa and the massive Dubai Malls.