The Jordan Rugby Sevens Series ended as it began with the Nomads Blacks dominating the tournament to take the title with 5 wins from 5.
As with the first and second tournament Nomad Blacks beat Citadel Warriors in a tense tough final, but if the results of the tournament seems business as usual the real story to be told is in how Rugby is developing in Jordan.
For those who don’t know the Jordanian series is made up of four clubs, Nomads, Citadel, Amman Saracens and Aqaba Sharks. Two of which, Citadel and Nomads, split for the sevens series into A and B Teams, or Citadel Knights and Warriors and Nomads Black and Blues
For the first time one of the Sevens series was held in Aqaba, and round 2 saw Nomads take the title with 22 points from five wins from five. Expected yes, but the tournament also saw Citadel finish with 19 points from four wins but a better points difference than the Nomads by some margin.
As the series went on the Nomad’s defence that had conceded only one try in five games in the first round was suddenly exposed and attacked. Conversely their attack, that had torn teams apart in the first tournament, was put under pressure harried and forced to play on the back foot. Ultimately while the end results were the same the outcome was two fantastically competitive tournaments, with a vastly improving quality of rugby as the series moved on.
It’s the curse of most expat clubs that the personnel changes rapidly and this was demonstrated perfectly by both Aqaba and Amman Saracens. Winless in the first round Aqaba managed to record their first win (game) of the series on home ground, finishing 4th behind the ever steady amman Saracens – they may have finished bottom of the series table but to host a tournament and finish 4th in a tournament is a huge achievement for a team that faces a 4 ½ hour journey every time they want to play 15’s or Sevens with a different team every time they take to the field.
It’s also testament to Jordan’s willingness to grow the game, as was also demonstrated by the Women’s touch rugby held between the finals games of the Amman legs of the series.
Saracens made the long journey to Aqaba with a bare minimum of 8 players, playing 7’s in draining 39 degrees is tough enough with a full squad and it shows the tenacity of the club that they were able to maintain consistency throughout the series. It also shows the camaraderie in Rugby that all the teams were able to lend players to help bolster depleted squads.
Aqaba finishing 4th aside the 2nd tournament panned out pretty much how we all expected with Nomads Blacks taking the title with some room to spare. However a young Citadel Warriors lead by experienced playmaker Dino Obeid and captain Zeid Arabiat having steadily improved over the last few weeks were all set to run them closer than ever in the final series.
01: Nomads Black
02: Citadel Knights
03: Amman Saracens
04: Aqaba Sharks
05: Nomad Blues
06: Citadel Warriors
So on to Amman, and the third and final round of the series.
Again while Nomads Black took the title with another perfect 5 from 5, the progress made by the other teams was equally impressive to see. That’s not to discredit Nomads, they are still far and away the best side in Jordan, a big physical and skillful side who are able to rise above everything that is thrown against them.
They are the benchmark, and function on a level that means everyone aspires to beat them resulting in a highly competitive tournament, physical tournament played with incredible spirit.
The draw saw Nomads Black in Pool B with their Nomad Blues clubmates and with Citadel Warriors. Leaving Citadel Knights, Amman Saracens and Aqaba Sharks to play out pool A, and whilst Nomads Black were made to work for every single inch of the pitch by opposition desperate to prove a point, Citadel knights got off to a good start to the day by demolishing both Saracens and Sharks with two supremely quick, clinical and skillful performances.
Final pool standings:
Pool A Pool B
01: Citadel Knights, 01: Nomads Black
02: Amman Saracens 02: Citadel Warriors
03: Aqaba Sharks 03: Nomads Blue
This saw Amman Saracens paired with Nomads Black in the Semi final, whilst Citadel knights faced off against Citadel Warriors.
Citadel Knights were held to task with a close fought victory over the Warriors and Nomads saw off Saracens 28-0 in a score line that belied the quality of game. Saracens then comfortably beat a physically exhausted Citadel Warriors in the 3rd/4th play leaving all eyes on the final to see if the mighty Nomads could finally be toppled.
It was about as close a game as you’re likely to get in a 7’s final and Nomads worked hard to win. Citadel playing all the rugby with the ball, Nomads defence soaking up everything they threw at them and then making it count when given the chance to counter attacking.
Final score: 18-12 and a fantastic series was finished for another year.
The teams now head off to prepare for Dubai, and after Jordan’s successful bid for entry into Asia Rugby the international sevens in the new year. 15’s will begin post Sevens s spring approaches and the real challenge for all clubs will be how they now transfer the raw skill and promising talent on display into the structure and team discipline required for 15’s.
01: Nomads Black
02: Citadel Knights
03: Amman Saracens
04: Citadel Warriors
05: Nomad Blue
06: Aqaba Sharks
Story by Graeme Forbes in Jordan