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Dubai English Speaking School and Dubai English Speaking College Score “Extraordinary” Clean Sweep at Historic Rugby DC10s
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Dubai English Speaking School and Dubai English Speaking College Score “Extraordinary” Clean Sweep at Historic Rugby DC10s

by Jon WestleyFebruary 10, 2020

Both Dubai English Speaking School, DESS, and Dubai English Speaking College, DESC, have together achieved an historic first for sport in the UAE by winning a clean sweep of first place Cups at the annual DC10s (Dubai College Tens) Rugby Tournament. The competition is the centrepiece of the UAE’s Rugby calendar and attracted 16 of the top Rugby schools in the region to Dubai College where the event was held over two days between Friday 7th and Saturday 8th February 2020.

The setting of the new UAE rugby record was achieved when Dubai English Speaking College and Dubai English Speaking School, DESC and DESS, won their matches in every age group of the competition for the main Cups for the first time in the competition’s nineteen year history: the Under 11s, the Under 12s, the Under 13s, the Under 14s, the Under 16s and the Under 19s.

In addition, the only two B-Teams fielded by DESC, also won the Plates in their respective competitions at Under 16 and Under 19.

Photograph of the winning Rugby teams at Dubai English Speaking College DESC at the major Rugby event in Dubai in February2020 at which DESC achived a clean sweep of all titles

Between them, Dubai English Speaking School and Dubai English Speaking College fielded 150 now record-breaking rugby players across all their teams.

In total, 55 teams played across the DC10s tournament, across 246 fixtures.

As the competition progressed, it gradually became apparent to all schools taking part that history was being made when Dubai English Speaking School and College appeared unstoppable in racking up their wins. The last three deciding matches, those in which it would become clear whether DESSC could achieve the UAE record, took place in a nail-biting 40 minutes:

  • The Dubai College 10s Under 13s played their Finals match against Dubai College at 1:00pm. DESC won 24:19

This was followed, at 1:20PM, by both the Under 12s and Under 11s Dubai College 10s Finals which took place at the same time.

  • The DC10s Under 12’s Final pitched DESC against Dubai College. DESC won by 10:5.
  • The DC10s Under 11s Final pitched Dubai English Speaking School, DESS, against Jumeirah English Speaking School, JESS. Dubai English Speaking School won by 27:0.

By the time of the three last matches on the second day, all schools were on a knife edge wondering whether the “impossible” could actually be achieved.


In a show of sportsmanship, the sense of celebration felt across the competition as the whistles went on the last two matches led to spontaneous applause from all the schools taking part.

In total, Dubai English Speaking School and Dubai English Speaking College between them won eight trophies including six cups two plates.

Andy Gibbs, Principal of DESSC, said:

“We are extremely proud of our rugby teams. It’s a fantastic achievement in a competition that has been one of the highlight events of UAE schoolboy rugby for the last 20 years. Our ”frenemies” DC have come close to achieving this over the years; in 2012 only BISAK winning the under 12s prevented our old rivals from scooping the lot.  When you consider DESC only won their first single trophy at this event (and I remember it well as headteacher at the time) in 2014, it shows you how far we have come in a relatively short space of time.  Lots of people have played a part in this journey, but particular thanks go to the DESSC Board of Trustees, who have backed us in the providing the requisite investment to make sport such a significant part of our provision.”

George Cliffe, Director of Rugby, Dubai English Speaking College, said:

“First of all, the biggest thing – is the pride. We are so proud to be part of DESS and DESC.

We had the Under 11s through to the Under 19s – every student wanted to represent our schools to the best of their ability.

We are so proud and privileged to have been part of today’s achievement.

In terms of preparation, we train every single week with our students and have lunch time meetings. Children at DESC take ownership of their own journeys across the amazing sporting life and opportunities at our school.

I want to also take this opportunity to praise our B Team whose performance was stellar and Mr Gerber for his significant contribution to rugby for our students this year. We also have many unsung heroes: Mr Kilian, who teaches on position-specific skills for our players;  Mr Kennedy who teaches specialist tackling skills and Mr Riding who has driven each player’s holistic development.

I also think it is important to note that we split the standard between the most and least experienced – we want every child to enjoy their sporting experience first and foremost.

Finally, thank you to all the other teams taking part who made us fight so hard for our wins. We really had to earn our victories.”

17 schools and clubs were represented in total:

  • Dubai College
  • Dubai English Speaking College
  • Dubai English Speaking School
  • Dubai British School
  • Kings Al Barsha
  • Kings Dubai
  • Jumeirah English Speaking School (Ranches)
  • Jumeirah English Speaking School (Jumeirah)
  • Repton Dubai
  • Nord Anglia School
  • The English College
  • Deira International School
  • Jebel Ali School
  • Jumeirah College
  • Safa Community School
  • Dubai Tigers (Club)
  • The Barbarians (Combination of players)

Runners up winners included:

  • Safa Communiy School won the Plate for the Under 11s
  • Jebel Ali School won the Bowl for the Under 11s
  • Kings’ Al Barsha won the Plate (the third and fourth placed teams competition) for the Under 12s.
  • Nord Anglia School Dubai won the Bowl (the fifth place play-off) for the Under 12s.
  • JESS won the Plate for the Under 13s.
  • Dubai College won the plate for the Under 14s.
  • Repton School Dubai won the Bowl for the Under 14s.
  • DESC won the Cup and the Plate in the Under 16s
  • DESC won the Cup and the Plate in the Under 19s


Callum Brooks, Head of Physical Education, Junior School, Repton School Dubai, speaking exclusively to, said:

“Repton Rugby were delighted with the performances of their Senior Teams at the DC 10s.

Our Under 19s won their group comfortably taking them through to a final against The English College which was contested all the way through the game and right down to the wire.

Repton missed out by a converted try.

It is the first time in many years that the Repton Under 19s have competed at the DC10s and all of us at Repton School are very proud of the achievements of our team.

The Repton School Under 14s played 4 group games scoring a very creditable 137 points in the process. The Repton Under 14s only conceded 5 points. The team then went on to win their final comfortably in an outstanding game of rugby.

Photograph of the Repton School Dubai Under 14 Team who shone at the DC10s Rugby Tournament

Again, the whole school is very proud of what they achieved both for the school, themselves, the team and the game of rugby in the UAE as a whole.

I want to also take this opportunity to personally, and on behalf of the whole school, thank Josh Ives, Repton School Dubai’s new Head of Rugby. Josh joined the school at the beginning of the academic year and he has set up a hugely inspirational, world-class rugby program for our boys. The improvements for our teams, and individual players, that we have seen Josh bring out were very visible throughout the tournament.”


Apollo Perelini, the leading UAE Rugby coach and former International, told us:

“Last weekend’s Dubai College 10s was its 19th Year. I have been to the tournament in 10 of those years. The DC 10s have always been seen as the best inter-school rugby tournament in the UAE.

The DC 10s stands out for being a competition that uses a format that allows the majority of all shapes to play without having to field a full 15.

The standard of rugby at this year’s tournament – and within all the schools taking part, has improved and has done so year on year.  More schools in the UAE are recognising the value of specialist coaching and the investment in an exceptionally high calibre of professional sports staff and teachers.

It was fabulous to see one of the original Dubai Rugby Schools, The English College Dubai, present for the first time in many years. The English College deserve praise for investing in rugby and in their pioneering, hugely accomplished new Rugby coach at the school.

Also, many congratulations to Repton School Dubai who fielded their Under 19s team at the DC10s for the first time in recent history. They produced some highly creditable rugby.

The competition provides the clearest evidence that investment in school sports facilities, sports coaches and programmes are having wide-ranging positive impacts on the development and quality of sport in schools.

The records breaking achievement of Dubai English Speaking College (DESC), in winning a clean sweep of Cup Winners across every age group at the tournament, is a formidable and inspirational one. Dubai English Speaking School and Dubai English Speaking College, and its amazing sportsmen and women, deserve significant acclaim for their quite exceptional achievement.”


James Clark, Head of Physical Education at The English College Dubai, commented:

“It has been a major focus over the past 2 years to reestablish the great game of rugby at The English College, one of the oldest schools in Dubai. I was absolutely delighted to have the college represented at U12, U14 and U19 level. The majority of boys have picked up the game for the first time and a huge amount of credit must go to them and their enthusiasm to learn the game regardless of the end result. I have been incredibly fortunate to have the support of members of non PE staff, such as James Blocksidge (Head of Geography) and Ian Murphy (Science teacher) to help support the teams.

Photograph of The English College Dubai Rugby Team which returned to the DC10s Tournament in Dubai to showcase outstanding rugby skills and commitment to the game in February 2020

A special mention must go to our U19 boys, led by Philippine U19 International Kian Mulholland.  Together with his fellow players, he has led the way in inspiring an appreciation of the sport of rugby throughout the school. It has been a pleasure working with these boys over the past 2 years.

Winning the Bowl Final against a very strong Repton side – one which had already beaten us twice this season, was a testament to their hard work and perseverance. These are qualities I encourage in all our sides.

Rugby at The English College is back. We are ready. The journey has started in earnest to return rugby at The English College to all of its historic former glory.”

Matt Journeaux, Head of Sport, Safa Community School, responded:

“Safa Community School entered, for the first time in its history, for the U11 & U12 age groups at the legendary DC10s Rugby Tournament in 2020.

Remarkably, just two and a half years ago, Rugby at Safa Community School didn’t even exist.

Today we have over 70 children training week in, week out on a Monday morning.

Credit must go to Mr Eduard Swanepoel and the team of coaches (some of whom are class teachers) for the work they have put in to drive Rugby forward at the school. Three of our Under 11 boys were selected for the DASSA Rugby Select side this year.

We were immensely proud of our U11 team. They achieved being Plate Winners against a strong Jess Ranches side.

Photograph of the Safa Community School Rugby Team which shone at their first competitive showing at the DC10s in Dubai in February 2020

This topped off a great year of Rugby at Safa which saw us enter teams at numerous Sevens tournaments during Term 1. The growth and appeal of Rugby even rubbed off on the SCS staff who also entered a team into the Dubai Rugby Sevens led by our very own UAE Rugby Squad member Mr Isaac Porter.

Despite our Secondary numbers still being relatively small we have put out an U12 this year as we look to push Rugby forward now into the older age groups.

Over the next five years we will continue to invest and build on our thriving Rugby programme with teams across all the age ranges.

Watch this space.

Andy Gibbs, Principal of DESSC, concluded:

“The performance of our boys consistently demonstrated what we seek in all our teams, and students as a whole, regardless of ability: a never-say-die attitude, the guts and grit to make the best of what they possess.  Our teachers and coaching staff, at primary and secondary, however, merit the biggest of accolades: week in, week out they strive to produce the best from all our children/students, whether that be in an A,B,C,D or E team, in whichever given sport. I am proud to have them as colleagues, especially as I regard them as decent, good people who build special relationships with the young people in their charge.”


The Photographs – Schools Making History

Photograph of players from the DESC Rugby Team at the Dubai College 10s in Dubai celebrating after winning an historic clean sweep in the "beautiful game"

Dubai College and Dubai English Speaking School, DC and DESC, fight it out for possession at the legendary DC10s Rugby in Dubai

The art of the beautiful game as a player showcases when to release the ball at the legendary DC10s in Dubai at which Dubai English Speaking School wn a record breaking clean sweep of wins

A set piece dummy move throws off he competition at the DC10s Rugby in Dubai 2020

Friendship and respect in the beautiful game know no bounds

Sportsmanship and respect for every team and every player at the DC10s Rugby in Dubai 2020 in which UAE Ruby players showcased world class skills that set the UAE alight.

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About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]

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