In recent seasons we’ve grown accustomed to the Dubai Exiles Under 19 Girls winning just about everything there is to win in UAE Under 19 Girls rugby. The 2022-23 season was a little different to the status quo to say the least. The tug of war between schools and clubs for their respective Emirates Dubai 7s squads was more fervent than ever, there was even International sides entered in the HSBC Mini & Youth Rugby Festival.
Whatever was in the water for the 2022-23 season, the Dubai Exiles Under 19 Girls had won the Cup Final of January’s Al Ain Tournament, had finished Runners Up to the Kazakhstan national side at the HSBC Mini & Youth Rugby Festival and when it came to the crunch it was the Exiles Under 19 Girls that took UAE honours and the title of champions.
Femke Soens watches on while taking a break
Lara Botha just being Lara Botha!
Lexie Nash gets encouragement from the sideline
The Under 19 Girls UAE A-League final took place at Al Ain Rugby Club, a 3pm kick off meant it was inevitably going to be a something of a cooker for the girls of both Dubai Exiles RFC and their opponents the Dubai Hurricanes.
It was the Exiles that got the much anticipated final underway. Giordan Emberson‘s high kick wasn’t gathered by the Hurricanes receivers, the ball being knocked backwards into touch on the Hurricanes‘ 22. The Exiles Under 19 Girls were immediately on the attack. Play was halted by the referee and when the game resumed both sides had opportunities to advance their claim to the UAE title.
It was the Hurricanes that opened the scoring, a breakaway try scored under the posts with 4 minutes of the 10 played. The try was subsequently converted. 0 – 7 to the Hurricanes.
Aydia Coetzee uses ‘The Force’
Jodie Qursha goes on the attack!
The Hurricanes score seemed to incentivise the Exiles Under 19 Girls to find an extra gear. They were on the attack immediately from the restart, a penalty tapped and taken by Phoenix Emberson was quickly moved to her sister Giordan Emberson who superbly delayed her pass to Tatum Muller. Tatum had already spotted the gap in the Hurricanes‘ defence before the ball reached her, when it reached the UAE International she was clean through and off to the try line. 7 – 5 to the Exiles.
Phoenix Emberson crosses the try line to score
SEVEN INTERNATIONALS FOR THE EXILES UNDER 19 GIRLS
Seven of the Dubai Exiles Under 19 Girls squad were picked by UAE Head Coach, Apollo Perelini, to represent UAE rugby on the international stage this season:
Dubai Exiles RFC is extremely proud of its record of producing international rugby players, girls and boys, men and women to represent the UAE and other nations on the international stage.
During the 2022-23 season the club contributed 26 players, Under 18 boys and girls, Under 20 boys, Senior men and women who were proud to pull on the national jersey and represent the UAE in tournaments across West Asia and the world.
Tatum Muller and Kirsten Brits gets to grip with a Hurricanes’ player
Giordan Emberson kicks a conversion
The game was turning into a proper tussle. Compelling attacks from both teams were being enthusiastically and very well defended. With the clock ticking into the red zone the Exiles Under 19 Girls had a scrum deep in their own half. The scrum proved to be a messy affair, but the ball was gathered and the scrum turned into a ruck. Aydia Coetzee, another UAE International, lifted the ball and moved it on to Kirsten Brits.
Kirsten moved the ball along the line to Phoenix Emberson. Phoenix hadtimed her run so well that there was nothing between her and the Hurricanes‘ try line but the green grass of Pitch 2. Converted by Giordan Emberson. 7 – 12 to the Exiles Under 19 Girls. Half Time.
Femke Soens showed why she is a dual international
EXILES UNDER 19 GIRLS SEASON 2022-23
2022-23 was another tremendous season of rugby for the Dubai Exiles Under 19 Girls:
- Abu Dhabi Tournament – Cup Runners Up
- Al Ain Tournament – Cup Winners
- HSBC Mini & Youth Rugby Festival – Cup Runners Up
- UAE – A-League Winners
- UAE Champions 2022-23
The game restarted. 10 minutes between the Dubai Exiles and the UAE A-League title. The Hurricanes Under 19 Girls were immediately out of their blocks and on the attack in the Exiles‘ 22. It was only a handling error at a crucial moment that stopped the team in yellow from threatening the Exiles‘ try line.
With the Exiles‘ scrum under a lot of pressure, the ball was moved out to another Exiles International, Femke Soens. Femke has represented the UAE on the international stage for a number of seasons, as an ‘under 18’ she also represented her home nation of Belgium this season. Femke sensibly put her laces through the ball, cleared the line, and gave chase.
Exiles‘ Alexia Nash was first to the ball, her attempted hack through fortuitously bounced up into Femke Soens‘s hands, the race was on. With the final Hurricanes defender committed to dealing with Femke, the UAE and Belgian international passed back to a supporting Alexia Nash to give her a clear run to the posts. Converted by Kayla Ackerman. 7 – 19 to the Exiles Under 19 Girls.
The Hurricanes girls were throwing everything at the Exiles to shorten the gap on the scoreboard. Committed defence from the ladies in black kept their opponents at bay until the defensive line was eventually breached and the Hurricanes scored under the posts with just over 3 minutes left on the game clock. Converted. 14 – 19 to the Exiles Under 19 Girls. Just over two minutes to play.
Line-out ball is gathered by Jodie Qursha
Aydia Coetzee scored the try that guaranteed the title
The Under 19 Girls UAE A-League final was all set for a grandstand finish. The Hurricanes were desperately trying to navigate their way out of their own half, but the defence from the Exiles was even more tenacious and trapping them near their 22.
A penalty from a ruck taken by Exiles‘ Kayla Ackerman put the Exiles backline on the front foot, and when the ball was moved out to Aydia Coetzee, the Hurricanes defence had been sucked in and caught out, giving Aydia, another UAE International, a clear run to the line. Converted by Giordan Emberson. 12 – 26 to the Exiles Under 19 Girls – UAE A-League Champions 2022-23.
DUBAI EXILES UNDER 19 GIRLS vs DUBAI HURRICANES UNDER 19 GIRLS
UAE A-League Final (11th March 2023) – Al Ain Amblers Rugby Football Club
A BIG THANK YOU to Cobus for the photos!