ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdistan’s first rugby team put in an inspired effort at a recent international tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, despite only winning one of their five matches.
The Kurdistan Irregulars Rugby Club, the only team of its kind in Kurdistan and Iraq and made up of both locals and foreigners, participated in the Dubai Rugby 7s three-day tournament from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, 2018.
The tournament was divided into several categories. Kurdistan Irregulars played in the International Social Men’s Pool G and competed in the knockout rounds of the Dubai 7s Shield.
On the first matchday in Pool G, Kurdistan Irregulars lost to The International Gents 7s 55-0 before losing to DESC Old Boys 52-0. The following day, the Kurdish rugby team suffered a narrow defeat to RC Mephi, losing 14-12.
Their only win came in the quarter-final of the Dubai 7s shield match when they beat JC Old Boys 15-14. They went on to lose the semi-final to Pie and Pint by a score of 43-5.
Ahead of the competition, Kurdistan 24 visited the team’s training ground in the Kurdistan Region capital of Erbil where players and coaches were busy running drills and practicing different tactics.
One of the coaches told Kurdistan 24 he believes the sport is “on the up” in the Kurdistan Region.
“Yea, certainly. In my limited time in Kurdistan – more recently, there is a lot of skill, a lot of determination, a lot of fitness. And a lot of the guys are really keen to play rugby,” he said.
Unlike traditional rugby, rugby sevens teams are made up of seven players instead of 15 and the match is divided into two seven-minute halves instead of the usual 40-minute ones. Rugby sevens is also considered to be more fast-paced.
The Kurdish club has competed in the Dubai 7s in the past; most recently, in 2015 and 2016. However, their performances were not good, and they failed to progress to the final rounds of the tournament.
Editing by John J. Catherine
(Photos: Adam Mirani)