The Masuri Lemurs is an invitational rugby sevens and tens touring side that plays in some of the best international tournaments worldwide. We have social and elite teams, and our players range from ex-internationals to top flight UK domestic leagues athletes. Based in London, we are now into our sixth year of competing on the spring/summer circuit.
We have just returned from the Dubai 7s after a successful 2018 season that saw the team travel to Indonesia for the first time to compete in the inaugural Jakarta Komodo International Tens tournament, and took us the furthest east that we have ever travelled.
The Dubai 7s is without a doubt one of the most polished, professional and well organised sporting events you could go to; the quality of the organisation and the pitches is second to none and the venue is breath taking. This was the Lemurs’ third trip to the invitational tournament and the fourth time we had been invited to participate.
The tournament is three days long, and every day we would make our way to the stadium at sunrise, driving for 20 minutes out of the collection of shiny structures that silhouette the dawn sky. Even now Dubai is still growing upwards and outwards, and we meandered through the construction sites and cranes until eventually we left the city outskirts and began the short journey through the desert.
Upon arrival, walking into the grounds with our Masuri polos and shorts, the players were all issued with security passes which are checked meticulously before we were allowed onto the pitches for the twenty minutes of allotted warm up before matches. We had two matches a day, following the typical World Rugby format of pool games and subsequently knockouts. For the second year running we topped our pool with some convincing wins over teams from Pakistan, England and Russia, with our points difference the largest of all teams in our tier.
There is no denying how challenging and competitive the tournament is. The heat is another opponent in its entirety, and no matter how fit the team is or how pristine the playing surface appears, the work rate required is high and the sun and heat saps you of energy almost from the first whistle. It is completely different from playing in the UK but the Lemurs are lucky enough to not be strangers to these conditions having travelled all around the world and played at the likes of the international tournaments in Cancun, Jakarta and Las Vegas.
Disappointingly, the 2018 edition of the Dubai 7s saw the Lemurs being knocked out in the Cup Quarter Finals to a strong International Gents 7s, a British team that is growing in capability under some strong leadership. I was lucky enough to catch up with the captain later on in the day and we discussed the challenges of international touring and maintaining a full calendar of events. Travelling around the world and maintaining the same core squad of athletes is hard, but having partners like Masuri and Valutrades makes things considerably easier.
Costs such as flights and hotels can cripple touring sides, but thankfully the impact of the game and the potential for marketing opportunities for brands is increasing. Sevens is still growing and will continue to do so due to its inclusion as an Olympic sport and it being a compact, explosive and adrenaline fuelled format of it’s the fifteen a side mother.
As a spectator or player, you frequently rub shoulders with players and coaches from the international tiers, and all with no exception will always stop for a quick chat or a photo. Dubai 7s is really an advocate for our sport and presents the spectacle in the best possible way, and is a fantastic platform for newcomers old and young to discover and appreciate what has to be one of the most exciting sports on the planet.
This was our first year working with Masuri and they have been incredible to partner with – they listen to our feedback on our kit and are keen to push their brand into the rugby sphere. The kit is some of the best in terms of quality and turn around time is fast; so quick that they guarantee no cost on kit that takes longer than 5 weeks to produce. Kit turn around time is important for us as we have various teams that travel to tournaments with different jerseys and designs.
We also work with Scottish rugby charity “Hearts and Balls” who assists players who have suffered life changing injuries whilst playing rugby and provides aid for the care of those who need it. We are lucky enough to be able to travel to some exceptional locations and if we can give back in any shape or form, be it raising awareness or raising cash for the cause, the Lemurs will do our best to lend a hand.
Our mission has been and will continue to be providing a platform for exceptional athletes to experience international tournaments in some of the world’s best and beautiful locations and play against some of the best teams on the circuit. There is a strong sense of family and friendship on the sevens circuit at this level and we see the same teams and players week in week out. We also believe that it is important to maintain our thriving social side for players who wish to enjoy the rugby as well as the entertainment post-match, as well as visit interesting and different countries. Rugby is a great way of bringing people from all four corners of the earth together, and is universal language that all our opponents speak fluently. There are not many other sports where you can leave everything on the pitch and enjoy the festivities together once the event is finished.
Unfortunately, this would be the first Dubai 7s where the Lemurs would not make a final, but season planning has already commenced for 2019 and providing our invitation is extended once again, we will be back to improve on 2018.