It was a case of out of the frying pan and into the freezer this week for two of the UAE's top rugby schools, as they swapped the baking heat of Dubai for the icy chill of the so-called 'beast from the east' at the Rosslyn Park National School Sevens in London.
Living and playing in the desert, the U13 rugby teams of Dubai English Speaking College and Dubai College are well accustomed to the weather playing a part in their matches, but nothing (short of a chryogenic freezer perhaps) could have prepared them for what they faced in England.
Having left the spring sunshine of Dubai behind, the boys were welcomed by perishing conditions in the UK capital last Thursday.
Both of DESC's warm-up matches – Eastbourne College and St Andrews Prep School – fell victim to the conditions, as did DC's, meaning the only rugby the boys experienced prior to the tournament was watching the final day of the Six Nations in their team hotel.
The tournament itself was also in doubt, threatening to decimate entirely the trip that coaches George Cliffe, Andy Jones and both sets of players had been working towards for so long. Thankfully the winter sunshine emerged just in the nick of time to melt the worst of the snow, at long last giving the boys the opportunity to suit up and take to the field.
Despite being drawn in the toughest group (as a result of their stellar performance in the 2017 edition), the DESC boys showed toughness and resilience against high calibre opposition, winning three of their five matches and finishing second in their group.
DESC Head of Rugby, George Cliffe, was delighted with his players:
"I'm really proud of the boys. They've come up against some of the best teams in England in conditions many of them have only seen in the movies, and they've played out of their skins."
Neighbours Dubai College also performed extremely well despite the cold snap, winning four and drawing one of their games to, again, finish second in their group.
DC Director of Sport, Andy Jones, also gave his team huge credit:
"The boys have certainly had an experience to remember – it's the first time I've ever coached a team that warmed up by building a snowman!
To come away from the tournament undefeated is a great achievement, and is testament to the hard work that the boys have put in over the past few months."
Click here for a full list of results from the Rosslyn Park Sevens.