Youngstars: Hartlepool RFC U14s' three-game tour of Dubai
The team had done amazing feats of fundrasing to make the trip for not only players but coaches and prents.
Coach Paul Ryder said the team thoroughly enjoyed their trip and left their mark on the local opposition.
He said: “No other English club side has ever toured Dubai, as it is usually only school sides who tour.
“All three opponents later explained that they did not expect such a hard game of rugby from a touring side.
“A thoroughly amazing experience for both players and parents was had by all who travelled to Dubai for a once in a lifetime experience, with friendships made on and off the pitch.
“Both the Hurricanes and Exiles intend to travel to the UK next year to play the return game, where they will be playing rugby in very different conditions.
After a day to recover from the eight-hour flight and the four-hour time difference, the boys’ first game was against the Dubai English Speaking College (DESC).
DESC were an unbeaten local school rugby team and they proved to be a formidable team who played with speed and power to dominate the game. Hartlepool eventually lost with the final score of 41-0 which was a little harsh on HRFC and didn’t reflect the good rugby that they played.
However, the harsh reality set in that the teams we were playing were clearly not wanting to be beaten by a touring side.
After dusting themselves down, the team travelled to the The Sevens stadium to play their second game of the tour at 6.30pm in slightly cooler conditions against a strong local side the Dubai Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes were a predominantly South African side who played a physical game and they quickly ran in to a 10-0 lead.
Captain Tom Campbell rallied his tour side into action and strong performances from Luke McLurg, Sam Gordon and Isaac Johnson ensured that the Hartlepool side stayed in close contention.
Tries from Joe Snowdon, Joe Ryder and Owen Samuel meant that the final five minutes of the game was a tense affair.
A last gasp kick and chase by Joe Snowden almost gave the tourists a welldeserved finger tip try and victory before the hosts eventually ended the game winning 30-26.
A meal in the club house saw both teams sit down and discuss the game before the captains exchanged plaques.
Man of the match Liam McMenemy was presented with a commemorative shirt and plate for his outstanding performance.
Hurricanes coach, Ciaren O’Sullivan, explained that the Hartlepool team were hungry, played hard and fair and humble and that we had enriched the rugby of his side, giving a fantastic performance.
A quick turnaround meant that the Hartlepool side had only 12 hours to recovery before returning to The Sevens Stadium on Friday morning to play their final game against the unbeaten Dubai Exiles teams, who are regarded as the strongest team in the UAE.
A tired Hartlepool team took to the field in 25 degree sunshine.
Upbeat from the previous night’s performance, the Hartlepool side produced their best performance of the week.
A quick try from Nathan Andrews gave the visitors the lead and despite conceding 10 points before half time the 10-7 score line meant that Hartlepool were well in contention going into the second half.
Hartlepool battled hard in the second half but tired legs and bodies eventually caught up with the team and the Exiles won the game 27-7.
Both teams celebrated in the swimming pool after the game before man of the match Joe Ryder was presented with an Exiles ball and plaque.