Exiles’ Gus Urquhart shakes hands after winning the HSBC Mini & Youth Rugby Festival Cup Final
The Dubai Exiles Under 16s backed up their 2021-22 season with a near perfect 2022-23 season. When the UAE A-League final took place between the Exiles Under 16s and the Tigers on the 11th March at Al Ain Amblers Rugby Club, the Exiles Under 16s had already won the Cup Finals of the Abu Dhabi Tournament, the Emirates Dubai 7s Youth Festival, and the HSBC Mini & Youth Rugby Festival.
Indeed, the Exiles Under 16s were back at the venue where they’d suffered their only loss of the 2022-23 season, Al Ain, where they’d lost the Cup Final of the Al Ain Tournament in January against the Dubai Tigers (14 – 10). In a repeat of last season’s Under 16s A-League final, it was once again the Exiles vs the Tigers, this time without the home advantage of Pitch 7 at The Sevens Stadium.
Exiles’ Italian scrum-half, Alessio Coviello, had a very impressive 2022-23 season
Steffan de Jongh performs captain’s duties
Exiles’ Nick Fritz is difficult to defend for any opposition
After two years of the Dubai Exiles and Dubai Tigers contesting every significant Under 16 final in UAE rugby the players will have had a pretty good idea of each other’s game when they walked out onto Pitch 1 at Al Ain Amblers Rugby Club for the A-League Final.
It was a midday kick off in the Al Ain sunshine and with handshakes done and pleasantries exchanged it was the Tigers that got proceedings underway – when a ball eventually found its way onto the pitch.
It was the Exiles who went immediately on the attack. After the threat of a Tigers‘ turnover at the first ruck was quickly quelled, the ball was moved through the backline. Nick Fritz almost broke the line, but in the tackle he’d managed to get his hands free and pass to a supporting Keaton du Plessis.
The Exiles Under 16s were on the move and up to half way. A hallmark of the last two seasons for the Exiles Under 16s has been their ability to remain calm and retain possession. Phase after phase against a well organised Tigers‘ defence was giving the team in black a purposeful foothold in the Tigers‘ 22. All they needed was the reward of points for their efforts.
Nick Bent surveys Pitch 6 after winning the HSBC Mini & Youth Cup Final against the Tigers
The Tigers win their line-out
Exiles Under 16(15)s entertain Corfe Hills School
Corfe Hills School from Poole in Dorset, UK were the very special visitors to Pitch 7 of The Sevens Stadium in February. The team from the UK had a packed itinerary for their visit to Dubai and opened their tour with a match against the Exiles Under 15s followed by the teams being mixed together and thirty minutes of fun rugby.
Touring rugby match played – friends made
Exiles’ Gus Urquhart goes on the charge
Exiles’ Jasmir Jayman gets over the try line
The reward of points did come. Nick Bent crashed over to score in the left corner after an opening period of almost 5 minutes of uninterrupted possession for the Exiles. From beginning to end, the Exiles Under 16s had recycled the ball 30 times before Nick Bent thumped his way across the try line. It was a remarkable display of control, patience, and understanding by any stretch of the imagination. 5 – 0 to the Exiles Under 16s.
The Exiles‘ second try came very much against the run of play. The Tigers had spent several minutes in possession of the ball, a couple of penalties to the team in red had given them good field position, but dropped passes at crucial moments, encouraged by good ‘hits’ from the Exiles had seen the Tigers turnover the ball at a ruck. The Exiles were on the attack once more, Nick Fritz again linking up with Keaton du Plessis to create the initial damage, a few phases later and Jasmir Jayman had got across the try line. Converted by Nick Fritz. 12 – 0 to the Exiles Under 16s.
Exiles Under 16s Season 2022-23
2022-23 was a tremendous season of rugby for the Dubai Exiles Under 16s:
- Abu Dhabi Tournament – Cup Winners
- Abu Dhabi Tournament – Plate Winners
- Emirates Dubai 7s Youth Festival – Cup Winners
- Al Ain Tournament – Cup Runners Up
- HSBC Mini & Youth Rugby Festival – Cup Winners
- HSBC Mini & Youth Rugby Festival – Plate Runners Up
- UAE – A-League Winners
- UAE Champions 2022-23
Lian Botha almost gets through the Tigers’ defence
With 20 minutes of the first half gone, the Tigers got themselves on the scoreboard after the Exiles gave away a lazy penalty under their posts. 12 – 3 to the Exiles Under 16s. The Tigers score signalled the Exiles Under 16s back into action. Despite the desert heat the young men of Dubai Exiles RFC visibly picked up the pace of the game. When the referee adjudged a crooked throw from a Tigers‘ line-out, the Exiles opted for a scrum and were immediately on the attack in Tigers‘ territory.
After another thumping run from Nick Bent, the Tigers‘ defence was caught offside. Quick thinking, a quick penalty, a quick pass by Zach Pollard and Gus Urquhart was under the sticks for the Exiles‘ third try. Converted by Nick Fritz. 19 – 3 to the Exiles Under 16s.
With the end of the first half of the final imminent, the Exiles managed to get across the try line for the fourth time. Nick Bent again disposed of some would be tacklers in his usual direct and stampeding style. Once the damage to the Tigers‘ line had been inflicted, it was left to Danny Plumtree to dance his way through the chasm. Converted by Nick Fritz. 26 – 3 to the Exiles Under 16s. Half Time.
Nick Fritz causes more problems for the Tigers‘ defence
Anybody gathered around Pitch 1 for this Under 16 UAE final at Al Ain Amblers Rugby Club would have been forgiven for thinking that, for all intents and purposes, the match was over as a contest. Anybody but the Tigers it would transpire.
After 15 minutes of the second half, the Tigers pulled a try back and converted it. 26 – 10 to the Exiles Under 16s. When they pulled back a second score after 20 minutes and converted that one, things were beginning to look a little nervy for the Dubai Exiles Under 16s. 26 – 17.
However, there was to be no dramatic turnaround and the conversion of the Tigers‘ second try proved to be the last score of the Under 16s A-League Final. Exiles Under 16s – UAE A-League Champions 2022-23.
DUBAI EXILES U16 VS DUBAI TIGERS U16
UAE A-League Final (11th March 2023) – Al Ain Amblers Rugby Football Club