Dubai: It was easy to understand the broad smile that lit up the face of Kyle Knox, captain of the British School Al Khubairat (BSAK) team that overpowered Dubai College 17-0 in the under-18 final of the 10th anniversary of the DC International Rugby 10s.
The hosts have dominated their home tournament over the past decade, and the significance of bringing that run to an end as well as the convincing manner in which it was achieved was not lost on 17-year-old Knox.
"It's a very proud moment and I'm very pleased with the boys," said Knox, the smile still on his face long after he had picked up the winning trophy. "After all the great sporting rivalry between us, it's nice to have finally beaten them on their own turf and to have finally ended their unbeaten run," he added.
Another extremely delighted man was BSAK director of rugby, Lyn Jones. "Dubai College have done very well to be successful in their own tournament for so long. So it's been a desire of ours to come down and spoil the party, and we were deserved victors today," said Lyn.
"From where we were 12 months ago, we've come a long way to being winners today. It's a very proud day for the whole school," he added.
The DC International Rugby 10s, regarded as the biggest schools tournament within the Gulf, is the second big success for the boys from Abu Dhabi following their devastating 40-0 thrashing of English College in the final of the Gulf Under-18 Men's category at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens last December. And Knox attributed a large chunk of their recent success to Lyn. "He's our beacon of hope," said the captain. "BSAK was nothing in rugby till a few years back until he arrived. After that we've won the Dubai Sevens and now we have won the biggest schools tournament."
It was a mixed two days for Dubai College director of sport, Andy Jones, as the school made it to the finals of five of the seven age categories but were left to be content with two victories. But simply seeing how big the tournament has grown in 10 years was rewarding enough for its founder and chief coordinator. "It used to be a half-day tournament, now we have about 700 boys playing rugby over two days," said Jones.
The standard of play over the two days also impressed former Samoa international Apollo Perelini, the head of rugby at Repton School, Dubai who fielded three teams in the tournament. "It's a good benchmark," said Perelini. "You are competing against all the best schools from Dubai and other parts of the UAE and it's also giving kids the opportunity to test themselves against kids from overseas."
Under-11: Dubai English Speaking School
Under-12: The Trinity School UK
Under-13: Jumeirah College
Under-14: Dubai College
Under-15: Dubai College
Under-16: Jumeirah College