Perelini’s eyes firmly fixed on next weeks Asia Rugby Division One championship in Malaysia.
Yalla Rugby were lucky enough to be invited to Apollo Perelini’s last training camp before the upcoming Asia Rugby Division One Championship in Ipoh, Malaysia.
The UAE Rugby National squad, are up against Malaysia, Philippines and Sri Lanka with the prospect of qualifying for the 2019 World Cup in Japan up for grabs for the table topping team. We ask Perelini how his squad preparations have been coming on;
“It’s taken a little longer to get ready for the championship because of the players club commitments which narrowed down my contact with them, but the last two weeks and two warm up matches against tough Premiership and Conference Barbarian sides have brought the team closer and therefore team structures have been easier to put in place.”
“I’m happy, the team is coming together nicely with the Championship starting next week.” said Perelini.
Over the past 3 years, the standard of playing rugby in the United Arab Emirates has improved a tremendous amount, with increased interest in the sport from all ages and abilities.
“ The quality of players and coaching has improved the competition within domestic rugby.”
Perelini said: “The quality of players and coaching has improved the competition within domestic rugby, which makes things easier for me when choosing players to represent the UAE, however we still have a long way to go in some areas.”
With the team setting out, not only to just compete, but actually win next weeks Asia Rugby Division One championship, local UAE rugby clubs could really feel the benefit from a successful campaign in Malaysia.
Perelini believes that the quality of rugby will only increase if they (UAE Rugby) make the top tier of Asia Rugby. He said: “The challenge I guess, will be how we keep these full-time, employed players committed and whether they can improve their skills if they’re not professionals, unlike some countries which are now fully professional.”
Perelini has picked a 28-man squad for the three-match tour in Malaysia, with Jebel Ali Dragons dominating the selection with eight players picked. There are six from Dubai Hurricanes, five each from Abu Dhabi rivals Harlequins and Saracens, two from Dubai Exiles and two UAE Shaheen.
We’d like to wish Apollo and the UAE National rugby team the very best of luck and will keep you all up to date with their progress in the competition, which starts on the 14th May against Malaysia, then on the 17th they face Sri Lanka followed by their final game on the 20th against the Philippines.
By Alex Johnson