Emotional tour for Quins youngsters after finding out former team mate Shane Duggan had passed away following a road accident back in his native Ireland
Abu Dhabi Harlequins Under-16s won all four matches on what proved to be both an intense and emotional tour to Kenya, including beating one of the country’s elite youth teams.
The team began the tour with a victory over a community development side, which served as a curtain raiser to a 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifier between Kenya and Uganda.
However, the day ended on a tragic note as players received news that former teammate Shane Duggan had passed away, aged just 16, following a road accident back in his native Ireland.
Duggan had been part of the club at various age grades while his family had lived in Abu Dhabi for 10 years from 2006-16, after which they returned home to the Emerald Isle.
Quins’ next match, a tough 20-14 victory against the Kenyan Harlequins Vandals, was preceded by a minute’s silence for Duggan, who played for the Abu Dhabi club for eight years from 2008 until his family’s departure in 2016.
Quins started the match with formidable intensity against a team that contained two Kenyan U20 internationals and play in the national men’s third division.
Daniel Maguire scored the first points of the game, going over in the corner after a solid scrum led to the ball flowing swiftly across the back line.
The Vandals scored next, with a fine length-of-the-field try, but the Abu Dhabi side struck again just before half-time following a multi-phase move, with second row Alex Darling bursting through the defense and off-loading to flanker Milo Bly to score under the posts.
The second half was just as tense, with the Kenyan side scoring through their lightning fast full back, Kennedy – a Kenyan 100 metre youth sprinting champion.
Harlequins centre Ben Whiting then kicked a crucial penalty to inch his side ahead, before winger Alex Gough finished an excellent move in the last minute to spark jubilant celebrations.
“The squad performed beyond all expectations, with every single person playing the match of their lives,” said head coach Dominic Whiting.
“They were driven by a desire to pay tribute to Shane Duggan, and to celebrate his passion for the game, tenacity and commitment to the team. Our sister club, the Kenyan Harlequins, played a huge part in what was a very emotional day, and were amazing hosts.”
Quins also went on to secure victories over Nairobi School and Mombasa Rugby Club to sign off from their tour unbeaten.