UAE Expat Rugby News

Premiership Rugby By Numbers

We’ve compiled all of this year’s Premiership Rugby stats to show club performances throughout the 2018/19 season.

Dubai Tigers Earn Place In UAE Rugby Premiership

Next season the UAE Rugby Premiership will be boosted by the inclusion of the Dubai Tigers. This comes off the back of two consecutive Conference championship winning seasons for the ‘red and whites’ as they earn their place in the top tier of Gulf rugby.

In its short time of existence (founded in 2013), the Dubai Tigers Rugby Club has gone from strength to strength, starting with a small Junior rugby section of 40 players to today where it boasts over 300 playing members across its Junior, Women’s and Men’s senior squads. The Tigers once again confirmed their status as champions two weeks ago when they beat a spirited Al Ain Amblers side to lift the UAE Conference trophy after a dominant unbeaten 2018/19 rugby season.

shane thornton tigers chairman dubai

Club Chairman and founder, Shane Thornton said;

The promotion to the Premiership means a lot to our club. All players that have been with us for the past 5 years have got us to this point. We’re all really looking forward to the challenge ahead.

The Dubai Tigers will join current Premiership teams – Dragons, Eagles, Exiles, Harlequins and Hurricanes and will also see their 2nd XV team rise from the UAE Community league to the UAE Conference League.

National Rugby Squad Announced For Thailand Championships

uae national rugby squad announcement 2019

Perelini Announces His 27 Man UAE Rugby Squad Ahead Of Thailand Championships In May

High Performance Manager and Coach of the UAE National Rugby team Apollo Perelini has announced his squad to train for this years Division 2 Asia Rugby Championships which will be held in Bangkok, Thailand. The UAE Squad will play their first game on the 15th May against Guam at the multi-purpose Chalerm Phrakiat Bang Bon Stadium in Bangkok. Other opponents in their Division 2 Pool table will be Thailand and Kazakhstan, with the final being played on the 18th May.

Perelini announced his 27 man squad to the players on the eve of the UAE Premiership Final which saw the Abu Dhabi Harlequins regain their crown as Champions of UAE Rugby 2019. The UAE Rugby squad includes 8 players from Harlequins, 7 players from Exiles, 3 from Hurricanes, 3 from Eagles, 3 from Shaheen and 3 players from Dragons.  Training sessions will happen over the coming weeks in preparation for the departure to Thailand on the 12th May.

stephen ferguson uae rugby player

Dubai Exiles lock forward Stephen Ferguson will be looking to make his UAE National team debut having just missed out last year due to the residency threshold. Ferguson said,

“To be selected in the UAE squad has been an absolute dream. I came here over 3 years ago to play rugby for the Dubai Exiles under Coach Jaques Benade and it never entered my mind that I’d still be here now and in the UAE National XV squad. The standard of the players in the squad list is unreal and it’s getting better every year. There’s still lots of hard work to do over the coming 6 weeks to put a claim in to get in the tour squad. And it’s one you really have to relish. I’m really pleased to be selected and I’m looking forward to the next few weeks. Time to knuckle down and put in some hard yards.”

Harlequins
Exiles
Hurricanes
Eagles
Shaheen
Dragons

Backs

  • Emosi Vecanua (Abu Dhabi Harlequins)
  • Luke Stevenson (Abu Dhabi Harlequins)
  • Andrew Powell (Dubai Hurricanes)
  • Sakiusa Naisau (Dubai Hurricanes)
  • Niko Volavola (Jebel Ali Dragons)
  • Kini Natuna (Abu Dhabi Harlequins)
  • Matthew Richards (Jebel Ali Dragons)
  • Thinus Steyn (Dubai Exiles)
  • Sean Carey (Dubai Eagles)
  • Edward Armitage (Dubai Exiles)
  • Majid Al Balooshi (Dubai Shaheen)
  • Mohamed Suleiman (Dubai Shaheen)

Forwards

  • Chris Jones-Griffiths (Abu Dhabi Harlequins)
  • Craig Nutt (Abu Dhabi Harlequins)
  • Lucas Waddington (Dubai Exiles)
  • Murray Reason (Abu Dhabi Harlequins)
  • Gio Fourie (Dubai Exiles)
  • Ahmed Moosa (Dubai Shaheen)
  • Daniel Perry (Jebel Ali Dragons)
  • Isaac Porter (Dubai Eagles)
  • Esekaia Dranibota (Abu Dhabi Harlequins)
  • Mohamed Hassan (Dubai Eagles)
  • Matt Mills (Dubai Exiles)
  • Sean Stevens (Abu Dhabi Harlequins)
  • Jaen Botes (Dubai Exiles)
  • Hamish Anderson (Dubai Hurricanes)
  • Stephen Ferguson (Dubai Exiles)

Abu Dhabi Harlequins Regain Premiership Trophy

abu dhabi harlequins premiership rugby champions 2018/19

Harlequins regain UAE Premiership Title

Abu Dhabi Harlequins regain the UAE Premiership Title as they overcame a fired up Jebel Ali Dragons side from Dubai. It was a similar result to the 2017/18 UAE Premiership Final where Harlequins defeated the Dragons in a year which saw them lift the trophy for the second time in the space of three seasons.

Dragons, pushed them all the way, keeping the scoreboard closely tied up to the final 10minutes at 27-27. The side from the capital won 37-27 at The Sevens to confirm their status as the number one side in UAE Rugby.

Final score 37-27 to the Abu Dhabi Harlequins.

Highlights of the UAE Premiership Final 2018/19

You can watch highlights of the match by clicking the video above.

Dubai Tigers – UAE Conference Champions 2018/19

dubai tigers conference rugby champions 2018/19

Tigers Crowned 2018/19 UAE Conference Champions

In what has been the culmination of an unbeaten season for the Dubai Tigers, they managed to sweep aside a spirited Al Ain Amblers team in this years UAE Conference Final to be crowned 2018/19 Champions for the second time in back to back seasons. It was this time last year that they won a dramatic Conference final with an extra time golden try against Sharjah Wanderers.

Amblers started strong but with relentless attacking force of the Tigers they couldn’t hold on to what had been in large a very close fought contest at the Sevens Stadium in Dubai.

Final score 37-21 to the Dubai Tigers.

Highlights of the UAE Conference Final 2018/19

You can watch highlights of the match by clicking the video above.

UAE Rugby Finals Day 2019 – Preview

The domestic season draws to a close this weekend with the now traditional end of season UAE Finals day which will see champions crowned in both the UAE Premiership and Conference. The action takes place at The Sevens this year, having previously been held at Dubai Sports City with events getting underway with an exhibition Veterans match at 13:00. As ever Yalla Rugby will be your place to go for updates on the season’s climax, if we witness anything like the dramatic conclusion to the West Asia Premiership final out in Bahrain, UAE rugby fans will be in for a treat.

uae premiership rugby final 2019

UAE Premiership Final

UAE Premiership Final – Abu Dhabi Harlequins v Jebel Ali Dragons (KO 16:00)
Semi Finals:
Abu Dhabi Harlequins 43-27 Dubai Hurricanes;
Dubai Exiles 24-28 Jebel Ali Dragons

With this year’s West Asia Rugby crown having been claimed by Bahrain, for the big names of UAE Rugby, this year’s UAE Premiership carries extra significance as the remaining chance for major silverware. The Dragons sprang something of a surprise in seeing off Exiles, runners up in the West Asia Final to qualify for this showpiece against an Abu Dhabi side who finished 17pts clear at the top of the UAE regular season standings and must go in as favourites. The capital city outfit also won all three of the regular season meetings between the two, although there were only four points difference in the most recent clash at Jebel Ali. Having claimed a historic ‘quintuple’ of domestic trophies in 2017, Quins have surprisingly not won a major final since then, falling to lacklustre defeats at both this year’s Dubai Sevens and last year’s UAE Premiership. This weekend looks an opportunity to reclaim their position as the top side in the country but will be wary of a Dragons side who will relish the opportunity to express themselves on the big stage.

uae rugby conference final 2019

UAE Conference Final

UAE Conference Final – Dubai Tigers v Al Ain Amblers (KO: 14:00)
Semi Finals:
Dubai Tigers 57-17 Jebel Ali Dragons 2s,
Dubai Hurricanes 2s 22-31 Al Ain Amblers

Reigning champions Tigers have swept all before them this year and this final will not only put their Conference title, but also the prospect of an unbeaten season on the line. The last time Tigers failed to win a game in 80mins was indeed in last season’s final, where a draw with Sharjah Wanderers was settled by an extra time golden try. Can Al Ain push them all the way here? The formbook suggests that they have every chance. The most recent meeting between the sides went Tigers’ way by a narrow three point margin, and they have the confidence of coming through what were a series of cup-finals of their own just to qualify for the knockouts ahead of Abu Dhabi Saracens. Two straight hard fought wins over a strong Dubai Hurricanes 2s team will ensure they go in battle hardened and Tigers must be wary of complacency if they are to end what has been a remarkable season with the trophy they will feel they deserve.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Bahrain Edge Past Exiles In Late West Asia Premiership Final Drama

Bahrain Rugby Club 2019

It is often said that Rugby is a game of fine margins, and no one will better attest to that than those who witnessed the heart-stopping finale of this year’s West Asia Premiership in Bahrain. The home side ran out 23-21 winners, yet for a fleeting moment, it was the Dubai Exiles celebrating victory as Durand Gerber’s last gasp 50m penalty sailed straight and true towards the uprights. A cluster of red shirts under the posts frantically indicated that the kick had fallen just short, and time stood still until, after consultation with his assistants, the UAERF Referee – Tony Duminy confirmed their verdict. Cue pandemonium in the stands and enormous relief for a Bahrain side who had looked to be cruising towards the title just moments earlier.

Leon Mauer’s penalty with just ten minutes on the clock had restored a 10 point cushion for the home team who had led 17-6 at half time and came into this fixture undefeated since falling to Exiles at The Sevens in October. Exiles though, having hung in there for large periods of the encounter played out in-front of a partisan Bahrain crowd began to take control of the tight exchanges as Bahrain seemingly caught the jitters.

Durandt Gerber Dubai Exiles fly half

First a scrum penalty with just 4 mins on the clock was converted by Gerber to reduce the arrears to one converted score. Then after a series of further infringements at the breakdown helped the visitors gain field position, they worked an opening on the right flank for winger Stubbs to score with what would have been the last play of the game. With tensions boiling over ahead of the prospect of extra time, Bahrain were adjudged to be the guilty party in instigating an off the ball altercation meaning that Exiles would restart with a penalty on half way and a chance to win the game outright with the final kick, even after the touchline conversion drifted wide.

The thrilling climax had looked unlikely for much of the game, Bahrain having taken an early lead through a converted score by centre Jack Phillips. A second Phillips score from a perfectly executed set piece move and the boot of Ross Preedy had at one stage built up a 20-6 advantage before a much improved second half showing from Exiles nearly culminated in the most dramatic of smash and grab raids.

As impressive as Exiles’ comeback was on the day, few can begrudge Bahrain their slice of luck in holding on at the death. They have been the outstanding team in this year’s West Asia Premiership competition by some way and hosted a fitting showpiece occasion for the final – which can be relived in full courtesy of Bahrain’s facebook live video.

Article By: Huw Harrow

West Asia Premiership Final Preview

west asia premiership gulf rugby final 2019

Bahrain v Dubai Exiles (KO: 17:00 UTC+3, Saar, Bahrain)

After 47 fixtures and over 2,500 points scored, this season’s West Asia Premiership reaches its climax on Friday with a grand final to decide the 2019 Champions. Here’s what you need to know.

When and where is it on?

The final will be hosted by Bahrain at their home ground in Saar. Having gone into the end of season playoffs as number one seeds, they earn the right to stage the final at home in front of the so-called ‘red wall’ of support. The event promises a carnival atmosphere with live music and kids entertainment, entry is free for club members and BAR2 for guests. Kick-off is scheduled for 17:00 but if you can’t make it to the game in person, Bahrain are planning to run a live stream via the club’s facebook page.

How did they get there?

Finishing first and third respectively after 15 rounds of regular season games, saw both sides through to last weekend’s semi-finals. Top seeds Bahrain benefitted from home advantage, cruising to a 56-7 win over reigning champions Jebel Ali Dragons. Exiles faced a tougher assignment, away to Abu Dhabi Harlequins side who had finished 13pts above them in the final league standings, coming away with an upset 31-16 win.

What does the formbook say?

It would be difficult to argue against Bahrain going into the final as favourites. Any away fixture in Saar is a tough assignment for sides having to take the morning flight across the Arabian Gulf – let alone in a season where Bahrain have been beaten only once in the XVs format. Intriguingly however, the only side to have got the better of them this season, is in fact the Exiles, in a 31-20 win back in October at The Sevens. The recent return fixture saw a Bahrain win by an identical margin of 11pts. So in head to head fixtures there is nothing to choose between the two and Exiles will fancy themselves as the side to halt the Bahrain juggernaut at the final hurdle.

Adam Wallace Bahrain RFC captain

Bahrain Captain: Adam Wallace

Bahrain Captain Adam Wallace is relishing the upcoming match against Exiles. He said;

“Winning the title at home would mean everything to us. As a squad we talk a lot about giving back to the club and being able to repay their support with knockout games and title playoffs is massive for us. We have a fantastic fanbase at the club and that’s seen every week in the size of our crowd and we know that without that we wouldn’t be where we are today. As the only club on the island we get huge support from everyone. The club itself will benefit massively on the day, but if this had been an away game you would have seen an entire crowd of redshirts making their way over to the UAE this weekend and I think that’s rare out here. We’re expecting a big turnout this weekend and the #redwall will be out in force.”

“There have been some issues with the league structure over the past couple of seasons and we are well aware that we are the only team outside of the UAE since Doha’s exclusion. Winning the title this weekend will hopefully cement the idea that inter-gulf rugby must continue if you want to have the most competitive league and continue to develop the sport in the region.”

The Lineups

Bahrain: TBC
Dubai Exiles: TBC

Article By: Huw Harrow

Gulf Rugby Round Up Week 16

Gulf Rugby Roundup Week 16

A look back at the final round of regular season action in the top two leagues, and our first taste of knockout rugby in both the Premiership and Community leagues.

Jump right in…

Al Ain Amblers RFC

Team of the Week – Al Ain Amblers 1s

One of this most intriguing storylines to evolve from this season has been the rivalry between Al Ain Amblers and Abu Dhabi Saracens as both looked to secure the second Pool B semi-final slot, behind the dominant Dubai Tigers. An impressive 34-22 away win at Hurricanes 2s sealed qualification for the Amblers and indeed second place in the combined league table having lost only three matches this year (two coming against Tigers). They must now repeat the trick in the semi finals as, despite a larger points haul, Canes will enjoy home advantage due to the fact they were top of Pool A.

Bahrain will face Exiles in this years final

West Asia Premiership

Bahrain and Dubai Exiles will contest the final next week in Bahrain after both winning their semi finals this weekend. Bahrain will go in as favourites, having topped the league rankings they underlined their pedigree in crushing Jebel Ali Dragons 56-7. Exiles upset Abu Dhabi Harlequins 31-16 at Zayed Sports City to earn their place in the showpiece. The season will then culminate with the UAE Premiership semi finals offering Quins, Exiles, Dragons and Hurricanes (who missed out on the West Asia knockouts) another chance for silverware at finals day.

 

Amblers RFC

Conference

The aforementioned Amblers were the big winners of the weekend in claiming the only playoff spot left up for grabs. Abu Dhabi Saracens benefitted from a forfeit by Exiles 2s to also gain a 5pt win, but Amblers superior point difference takes them through by the finest of margins. In the only dead-rubber match to go ahead, Dragons 2s eased past Sharks 41-12.

UAE Conference Semi Final Line-up (March 22)
Dubai Hurricanes 2s (A1) v Al Ain Amblers (B2), Dubai Tigers (B1) v Jebel Ali Dragons 2s (A2)

 

Barrelhouse vs Dragons Cup Final

Community

The semi final fixtures took place last weekend and as widely expected it will be Barrelhouse and Dragons 3s who meet to contest the honours on finals day. There was nearly a shock in the first semi final however, with Barrelhouse surprisingly pushed all the way by a Harlequins 3s side, perhaps benefitting from absence of a 2s fixture. In the end, Barrelhouse edged out a 19-15 win and will look to complete an unbeaten season by winning the final. Dragons’ qualification was somewhat more straightforward, overcoming a spirited RAK Rugby side 31-5.

UAE Community Final (March 8)
Barrelhouse v Jebel Ali Dragons 3s

Article by: Huw Harrow

Who Do You Think Will Win The West Asia Premiership?

Vote For Your West Asia Premiership Winner 2018
Below you can vote for who you think will win this years West Asia Premiership 2018/19. Simply click on an image to choose your winning team!

Click on a team to vote

Please wait a second for the results calculate…

Kyle Bennie From RAK Rugby Is With Us For This Weeks Choosday Chat

Kyle Bennie RAK rugby

We have a Choosday Chat with RAK Rugby‘s Fly Half, Kyle Bennie.

FACT FILE

Age: 30
Born: Larkhall, Scotland
Club: RAK Rugby Club
Position: Fly Half
Height: 178cm
Weight: 93kg

“I’m pretty good on the triangle”

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

Two people really spring to mind; Firstly my big brother Mitchell, he got into rugby and was obsessed. We used to throw the ball about for hours trying to perfect passing off both hands and then move onto kicking with both feet, we also used to watch as many rugby games as possible! We even used to rent old international games which were recorded on VHS. Secondly, my old school teacher Mr Jon Kendry, a proper Welshman, he would push me to my limits in the majority of sports but helped me focus on my rugby and was one of the main reasons I stuck at it and didn’t go down the football route. Thank God!

Whats been your proudest moment playing rugby in the Middle East?

Being in the UAE on and off for over 20+ years has many great and proud moments, but to some it up in three selfish points, they would be;

  1. Representing the Arabian Gulf (Rugby Union) and UAE Falcons (Rugby League)
  2. Being part of a band of brothers who revived Sharjah Wanderers and a band of misfits who established Dubai Wasps
  3. Running out onto a field with my brother, few really close mates and a heap of different international players

Do you have any nicknames?

When I was younger and playing with the wrong shaped ball, I was nicknamed “Wee Barra” after a famous Rangers player but when I turned to the proper egg shaped ball I didn’t really have one. Everyone just referred to me as “Bennie” or “KB” until I joined the Lakes Legends many moons ago, unfortunately with bad hair doos and a few questionable dressed to impress moments at 7am for training – they refer to me as “Corey Jane” or “Corey”.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

I have four kids and a corporate job so I don’t have much spare time but when I do…. I like to spend it with the family out exploring and camping or playing golf or going out motorbiking in the dunes.

Do you have any hidden talents?

Ironically I asked the Mrs recently if she knew any of my hidden talents and she said YES! “Looking busy and achieving Sweet FA around the house!” Apart from that, some say I am pretty good on the triangle and not to shabby around the kitchen.

What was the last takeaway you ordered?

Easy – Eat and Drink, Charcoal Chicken, full service with mutton soup and extra fries. I’m not even ashamed.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

Definitely flying. It would be easy to travel about and I’d never sit in another traffic jam again!!

What do you miss most about back home?

I miss the usual – the family, the fresh air of the countryside and the different seasons (usually within the same day in Scotland!) and reality! Sometimes being here, you get engulfed with living the expat lifestyle.

Who are the jokers at RAK Rugby?

Of late it would have to be Brian O’Discin (Disco) for his constant messing about and pulling some funny snide remarks out the bag and Dale Rooney, simply because he is a Northern lad and rugby league convert, bringing a completely different yet hilarious chat to the group.

If you could be one of your team-mates, who would it be and why?

It would be a mix between Tomas Young (Mossy) as on his day, he is a tackling machine and seems to be everywhere around the park or Kieran Dorgan as he is lighting and has a great kicking game from his Gaelic football background.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

Elvis Presley, I’m pretty sure he would have a few good stories to tell. Sir Richard Branson, business knowledge and his approach/views on life and one of my late grandparents, purely from a personal perspective on who, what, where, when, why and the old family stories.

Who has the worst Dress sense in the squad?

They are all contenders in their own right, but it would have to be Oisin MacPartlin for his horrendously bright training gear or Neil Jose Carleton with his “don’t give a s&%t attitude (Yes mate – green trainers, yellow socks, blue shorts and a red t-shirts does work! Looks spiffing).

What are the best things about being part of RAK Rugby?

Being part of an up and coming rugby club like RAK is great, there is excitement, growth potential and real belief! It does unfortunately have its down sides, like being so remote and purely relying on teacher retention and new recruits. If the Gaelic football is on the same weekend we play, then we loose 40% of our squad, but all in all the camaraderie is solid and everyone gets stuck in. There is a real family feel and we’re performing the best we have since reviving the club. I hope it can only move forward. Oh….cheap membership and free Dubai 7’s tickets too. (Bonus!)

How’s life in Ras Al Khaimah?

RAK is good. I have only been here 2 years but it reminds me of the “Good old Dubai days”. The community isn’t too big, so you can always see a familiar face or two around town. There is also lots on offer, more adventurous and outgoing opportunities as the mountains are in the back drop and there is a slight temperature difference.

Gulf Rugby Round Up Week 14

gulf rugby

We look back over the past two weeks which saw final regular season games take place in the Community league two weeks ago, along with Premiership and Conference action this weekend.

Jump right in…

Barrelhouse Rugby Club - Team Of the Week Feb 2019

Team of the Week – Barrelhouse

We began the season back in Week one by picking out Barrelhouse as a team to watch this season after seeing them rack up 50 points on an impressive league debut. So it has proved as the season has progressed with the newcomers defeating Dragons 3s 32-31 in a thriller to finish top of the regular season standings in the Community league. They now go into the playoffs as top seeds and will be heavily favoured to get past Harlequins 3s for a place at Finals Day. An impressive effort for the club in their first season of competitive XVs.

Dubai hurricanes line out

West Asia Premiership

Little change in the standings this week as Hurricanes came close to recording a win away at Harlequins that would have lifted them back into the playoff places but fell agonisingly short in a 35-34 reverse at Zayed Sports City. Exiles recorded a comfortable victory over the Eagles, which guarantees their playoff spot.

 

abu dhabi saracens conference rugby

Conference

Three fixtures took place this weekend, with all being won by sides from Group B. Abu Dhabi Saracens and Al Ain Amblers continue to match each other in the quest for the final playoff spot both recording comfortable home bonus point wins over Hurricanes 2s and Eagles 2s respectively. Level on 46 points, it is Amblers superior points difference that gives them the edge at the moment, a bonus point win next week over Canes 2s should see them through but Sarries are poised to pounce on any slip up. Elsewhere Dubai Tigers 1s kept up their unbeaten run, grinding out a 31-17 victory away at Quins 2s.

 

barrelhouse vs dragons

Community

This round of fixtures saw the final league standings and playoff fixtures decided. Barrelhouse edged Dragons 3s in the clash of the two unbeaten sides for top spot. A high scoring win for Tigers 2s away at Al Ain briefly put them in contention to gate-crash the top four, but both RAK Rugby and Harlequins 3s were able to get the job done in their respective fixtures to earn themselves a top four finish. RAK were pushed all the way by the Shaheen who will be pleased to have put 38 points on the board in their final fixture despite falling to defeat.

originallyit was looking like it was going to be a top four playoff in the Community League, but GRM have opened the league up to a knockout playoff between all teams. It does look as though they have been seeded so should make for an interesting few fixtures as below:

[Q1] Barrelhouse 1s vs Harlequins 3s
[Q2] Dragons 3s vs RAK 1s
[Q3] Amblers 2s vs Sharks 2s
[Q4] Tigers 2s vs Shaheen 1s

Article by: Huw Harrow

‘Mystic Mike’ Gives Us His 2019 Six Nations Predictions Video

Click Video Above To Watch Or View On YouTube

Mike Phillips Rugby Academy & Yalla Rugby Team Up To Bring You His Six Nations Rugby Predictions For 2019

Mike Phillips Rugby Academy

Mike is promoting his Half Term Holiday Camp which will be running on the 20th and 21st of February 2019 at Foremarke School in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. For further details you can visit his website on https://www.mikephillipsacademy.com/

Video Transcription

Hi it’s Mike Phillips Academy here with Yalla Rugby and here are my predictions for the Six Nations.

6th – Italy

Ok so, the team I think is going to unfortunately finish at the bottom of the table – Italy for me, I think they haven’t really progressed in the last couple of years. I think they’ll find it very difficult during the 6 Nations. The Italian player to look out for in this years Six Nations would be Tommaso Allan.

5th – Scotland

The team I think will come fifth in the competition will be Scotland. They’re a team that improved dramatically over the last few years, but because of injuries and because of the way the fixtures have fallen for them, I think they’ll end up fifth. The Scottish player to look out for would be Stuart Hogg.

4th – France

For me, the team that will end up fourth in this competition will be France. They’ve got so much potential, a great squad, but don’t seem to quite click in the big matches so I think they’ll come in fourth. The play I think to look out for in the French will be Gaël Fickou.

3rd – Ireland

The team that will end up coming third will be Ireland. Obviously they’re one of the best teams in the world at the moment, beating New Zealand in November and constantly improving under a great coach, but for me, they will end up third. Well for me the best Irish player would be Jacob Stockdale. He’s an outstanding player.

2nd – England

A close second for me will be England. I think without doubt, one of the favourites going into the World Cup. Whatever happens in the 6Nations they’ve got so much depth within their forwards and their back division, they’ve been a lot more creative so a close second for England. How do you do a Bristol accent? O’right Governor, the England player to ‘boss it’ will be Henry Slade…apples and pears!

1st – Wales

The team that is going to end up top of the Six Nations this year will be Wales. I think purely because of the way the fixtures are lying, they host England in their third match and Ireland in their last match and I think that they will be victorious in both these matches at home for Warren Gatland’s last 6 Nations Campaign. Well, for me you know, the best Welsh rugby player would be Ken Owens.

Thanks for being with Mike Phillips Rugby Academy and Yalla Rugby. I hope no one was offended by my accents.

I’ve got my Half Term Rugby Camp coming up in Feb from the 20th and 21st, see you there!

Matthis Bathe, Knights U16’s Scrum Half Has A Choosday Chat

Matthis Bathe, Arabian Knights Rugby Player

Arabian Knights Scrum Half – Matthis Bathe talks idols, favourite food and proudest moments.

FACT FILE

Age: 15
Born: Dubai, UAE
Club: Arabian Knights RFC
Position: Scrum/Fly Half
Height: 167cm
Weight: 57kg

“I’d like to understand how difficult a full game of rugby is for a prop”

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

My idols when I was growing up were Jonny Wilkinson and Danny Care. However there were many coaches such as Apollo Perellini and John Taimana who encouraged me to continue playing and practicing.

Do you have any nicknames?

Some of my friends call me Mathitha.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

In my spare time I either play video games, do homework or play around outside.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I love languages and can speak French, Spanish and Arabic.

Who does the cooking at home?

Mainly it’s my Mum but sometimes my Dad cooks.

What would you like to do when you leave school?

I would love to be a Chemical Engineer when I’m older, that would be pretty cool.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I would like to be able to control time and I’d travel into the future to see what it’s like.

Have you had any injuries whilst playing rugby?

I haven’t had any major injuries, but I have strained some ligaments in my fingers.

If you could be one of your team-mates, who would it be and why?

I would like to be Umberto and understand how difficult a full game of rugby is for a prop.

Who’s the best dancer in the Arabian Knights.

The best dancer is probably Dan Okenome, he’s got some moves!

What are the best things about being part of the the Knights RFC?

The best things about the Knights Rugby Club is that we are so close, like a family.

What’s your favourite food?

My favourite food is pepperoni pizza.

What do you miss most about back home?

I miss the cold weather and the ability to train at the local rugby pitch whenever I’d like.

Whats been your proudest moment playing rugby in the Dubai?

My proudest moment playing rugby in Dubai was when my team won the HSBC league in U10s.

The 13th Friday Of Gulf Rugby – Would It Be Unlucky For Some?

Gulf Rugby - Round 13

The thirteenth Friday of this Gulf Rugby season – would it be unlucky for some?

Jump right in…

jebel ali dragons 3rd xv

Team of the Week – Jebel Ali Dragons 3s

Just one of three men’s sides to hold an unbeaten record at this stage in the season, Dragons 3s overcame a potentially tricky assignment away to RAK Rugby Club this weekend. In a game played at the Sevens against the side one position below them in the table, the Dragons put on an accomplished display, in a convincing 55-12 win. Given their superior point difference (though forfeited games have some impact here) this was enough to propel them to the top of the Community league ahead of also unbeaten Barrelhouse.

harlequins vs eagles

West Asia Premiership

Business as usual for runaway leaders Bahrain who recorded their twelfth win of the season, 21-10 at home to Dubai Exiles. Considering the run of form they have been on, failing to record the bonus point may be something of a frustration as it actually sees Abu Dhabi Harlequins narrow the gap at the top ever so slightly thanks to their bonus point away to Dubai Eagles. Eagles themselves took a bonus point out of the encounter, racking up over 30 points and continue to display signs of improvement. With two games to go of the season they will be desperate to secure the win their performances recently have deserved. Elsewhere Jebel Ali Dragons moved ahead of Dubai Hurricanes, and crucially into the final playoff spot, edging out their city rivals 17-10.

 

dubai hurricanes 2nd xv

Conference

We now more or less know three of the four teams who will contest the end of season conference playoffs with just two rounds of regular season fixtures to go. In Group A, Hurricanes’ crushing win over Dubai Sharks should see them top the group and with both Dragons and Quins 2s losing, the gap between the two remains at eight points in favour of the Dragons, which should be enough to give them second. Dubai Tigers are clear at the top of Group B, beating Dragons 2s 48-19 to maintain their unbeaten record this weekend. It will go down to the wire between Al Ain Amblers and Abu Dhabi Saracens to claim second spot, both of whom had good wins this weekend, for Saracens a particularly satisfactory 46-17 triumph over Harlequins 2s in the Abu Dhabi derby. Eagles 2s recorded their second win of the season, beating the Arabian Knights 29-22 in a hard fought contest that saw the Knights pick up 2 bonus points in the game but are still yet to see victory this season.

 

uae community rugby

Community

The aforementioned RAK-Dragons fixture was the only match to take place this week, but some interesting off field news, in that indications are that the Community league will introduce playoffs for the top four this season, as opposed to the top two going straight to finals day. Unbeaten Barrelhouse and Dragons 3s are already guaranteed a home draw, but who will face them is up for grabs on the final round of fixtures next week. Should either RAK or Quins 3s slip up then Tigers 2s can overtake them if they can come away with a bonus point win from Al Ain.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Sandy Naylor From Dubai Eagles Has A Choosday Chat With Us

Sandy Naylor Dubai Eagles Rugby

We speak with Dubai Eagles Womens forward – Sandy Naylor on flakey people, wet socks and some “alone time”

FACT FILE

Age: 33
Born: Manila, Philippines
Club: Dubai Eagles RFC
Position: Front row in 7s. Back row in 15s
Height: 177cm
Weight: 69kg

“I think I function better in chaos!”

Do you have any nicknames?

I respond to Sandy, Sands, Nayls, and ‘Wife’.

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

At LSE University Sports Sign Up Week 15.5 years ago I was making my way to the netball table and a lovely lady called Hannah tapped me on the shoulder, said “it’s better you come here” and gently ushered me to the local rugby sign up table!

What are your bugbears?

Flaky people, being ripped off, and cold weather.

Do you have any tattoos?

Yes, and I want them lasered off!

What do you get up to in your spare time?

I am a part time personal trainer and have 3 crazy boy children – so between managing them, their activities and my own training at the gym and rugby I really do not have spare time! That said I love being busy and I think I function better in chaos.

Do you have any phobias?

Cockroaches, losing a tooth, and wet socks.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

EASY – Lime Tree Cafe carrot cake. Oh and buffets.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

Invisibility so I can walk past my children without them shouting “I NEED A SNACK” at me.

Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?

My husband, we don’t get much alone time together 😁 (YR: Giggidy)

If you could be one of your team-mates, who would it be?

Hollie for the wheels. Not only is she absolutely rapid over short distances, but she completed the Dubai marathon last weekend that she didn’t even train for in 3hr36!!!

Who’s the best dancer in the Eagles Ladies squad

It’s gotta be the Beth and Chaz twerking twins!

What are the best things about being part of the Dubai Eagles RFC?

The camaraderie, the friendships, and the winning.

What was the last brunch you went on?

Wow I don’t even remember! I don’t actually drink or brunch often because a) I’m a total liability after a few drinks and b) I’m a really incompetent parent when hungover.

How’s life been in Dubai?

Love it. My parents and brother live here, I grew up here so it really is home to me.

Week 12’s Rugby Action From All 3 Leagues In The UAE

gulf rugby roundup week 12

This week’s UAE Rugby action from across all three leagues.

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abu dhabi saracens rugby

Team of the Week – Abu Dhabi Saracens

It has been well documented that 2018 was a difficult year for a side which were West Asia Champions as recently as 2015. Results on the field saw demotion to the UAE Conference at the end of last season but struggles off it have really tested the resilience of the club. The early signs are that 2019 might see Sarries turn a corner in their rebuilding phase. They have gone three wins from three in January, conceding only 12 points in the process and two of those matches coming away from home. Locked in a battle with Al Ain Amblers to secure a playoff spot, they are building momentum at the right time of the season and bringing much needed confidence back to Al Ghazal.

dubai exiles vs hurricanes 2019

West Asia Premiership

Dubai Exiles were the big winners in this round of matches, claiming a hard fought local derby win at The Sevens over Dubai Hurricanes 32-27. That lifts them to third in the standings as they jostle for playoff spots along with Canes and Jebel Ali Dragons. Dragons themselves were edged out at home by Abu Dhabi Harlequins 29-25, a win which sees Quins all but guaranteed second spot with Bahrain clear at the top.

 

dubai tigers rugby uae

Conference

The game of the week in the Conference also came at The Sevens and it was another agonising defeat for the home club with Canes 2s edged out 46-44 in the last minute of a tumultuous free scoring contest with unbeaten Dubai Tigers 1s. The three top 1s sides all recorded wins over their Premiership second team opponents with Al Ain Amblers cantering past Quins 2s and Abu Dhabi Saracens travelling down to Jebel Ali and recording an impressive 27-5 away win. Conversely, amongst the sides towards the bottom of their respective groups, it was the second strings who claimed the points with DSC Eagles 2s and Dubai Exiles 2s claiming only their second and third wins of the campaign respectively.

 

rak rugby vs al ain amblers

Community

Nearing the end of the regular season in the Community League and just two fixtures were completed this weekend. Dragons 3s maintained their unbeaten record in sweeping past Tigers 2s to keep up in the two horse race at the top with Barrelhouse. The mid-table clash between Amblers 2s and RAK Rugby went the way of the northern emirate side 36-19, a result which sees them climb back to what is almost now their customary third place in the standings.

Article by: Birthday Boy Huw Harrow

Mike McFarlane – A Final Farewell ChoosdayChat With The Quins Head Coach

Mike McFarlane Harlequins

As Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Gulf Rugby bid farewell to Head Coach, Mike McFarlane, after his shock resignation last week, we dedicate this week’s ChoosdayChat to the quintuple trophy winner.

FACT FILE

Age: 33
Born: Kent, England
Club: Abu Dhabi Harlequins
Position: Head Coach
Height: 188cm
Weight: 100kg

“The passion that boy puts into his rugby is nothing compared to what he puts into his singing”

Do you have any nicknames?

‘Mikey’ is the only nickname that has ever really stuck.

When you’re not coaching, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I spend time with the littl’un, be it swimming, the beach or doing jigsaws. I also like Keeping fit and getting outdoors, but I especially enjoy eating great food and BBQing.

What do you miss most about England?

Proper butcher’s sausages! You just can’t get them like back home.

Do you have any hidden talents?

It’s been a while now, but I used to play flute and saxophone.

What was the last takeaway you ordered?

KFC… I’m guilty for a Twister!!

Who do you think will shine as a coach in Japan this year?

Gregor Townsend with Scotland and Warren Gatland on his last outing for Wales: both have the draws, squads and potential to push into the knockout stages of the World Cup.

What’s been your favourite moment as a coach?

The 2016/17 season, winning everything when the league was at it’s strongest. About 4 teams could have won every trophy that year but the boys were phenomenal, in quality and depth, both 1st and 2nd XV.

Whats your favourite punisher drill for the boys?

I’m not a fan of flogging the boys but one which is a killer in terms of skills under fatigue is the “Fiji touch 4v2 drill”.

Who’s the best dancer/singer at the Quins?

Muneeb Galant…the passion that boy puts into his rugby is nothing compared to what he puts into singing “Senses” in the sheds with a few shimmys…if he’s not recording it all.

If you could be one of the Quins players when you were playing, who would it be?

Oooo…I’d take Barry Dwyer’s wheels, Brian Geraghty’s chip n’ chase, Andy Shields lineout calls and Semp’s distribution…oh and Luke Stevenson‘s turnover skills haha

How’s life in Abu Dhabi?

It’s a great lifestyle with some fantastic opportunities and over 8 years I’ve been lucky enough to attend a range of brilliant events and meet some top quality people.

What are the best things about the being part of Abu Dhabi Harlequins rugby club?

The “One Club” culture has been epic to build and see flourish. For me, the players – hands down the best lads on and off the pitch you could hope for. It’s always been a pleasure singing with the boys.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

For sports chat around the table, I’d say Freddie Flintoff, Anthony Joshua and Johnny Wilkinson. For a general chat I’d say Sir David Attenborough, James Corden and Sir Richard Branson.

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

Travel as much of the world as possible, experience more cultures and learn more languages.

More On Mike McFarlane

McFarlane oversaw the Harlequins’ rejuvenation in UAE rugby and memorably steered the club to a clean sweep of major trophies. The quintuple, back in the 2016/17 season, included lifting the West Asia Premiership, West Asia Cup, UAE Premiership, Dubai Sevens and Asia Rugby Western Clubs Champions League titles, after which McFarlane revealed he had considered leaving for the second time, having first entertained the thought in the summer of 2016.

Set to leave the UAE due to personal reasons, his resignation midway through the season arrived as a shock to a club who had grown used to success under his coaching. No other club in the region has won more trophies than Harlequins in the time since McFarlane succeeded Jeremy Manning as the team’s coach back in 2015.

Andy Cole, the Harlequins chairman, said:

“Mike will be sorely missed at Harlequins. The guy has been completely dedicated to the club and rugby in general and has been a great ambassador for us and to UAE rugby. He was a great player and coach and it will be difficult to find a replacement like him. We wish him well for the future and thank him for all he’s done.”

Gulf Rugby Roundup Week 11

Latest Gulf Rugby News 2019

More action this week from the West Asia Premiership and UAE Conference rugby league.

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Amblers vs Dragons

Team of the Week – Al Ain Amblers

Al Ain coming away from Jebel Ali with a comprehensive 45-21 win, over a side that had previously lost on just one occasion this season might be seen as the upset of the round. Though that would overlook the fact that the Amblers were only a whisker away from toppling league leaders Tigers last week and seem to have run into a rich vein of form at just the right time of the season. If they can hold off Abu Dhabi Saracens for a playoff spot, they will be a threat in the knockout stages.

eagles vs hurricanes uae premiership rugby match

West Asia Premiership

On paper this week’s main event was the top of the table clash between Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Bahrain, but with the away side winning in irresistible fashion, narrowly missing out of putting 50pts on Quins, the drama ended up being found elsewhere. DSC Eagles suffered a heart-breaking loss to Dubai Hurricanes, a match that is becoming a real rivalry in Dubai. Canes clinched it 27-25 with a last second try in spite of a large period of stout Eagles goal line resistance, leaving the hosts rooted to the foot of the table and still without a win. It was just as close fought in the other Dubai derby between Jebel Ali Dragons and Dubai Exiles, the Exiles claiming a four point win which moves them up to third in the West Asia standings.

 

saracens vs eagles conference rugby 2019

Conference

All change in the fixture lists at Conference level as sides in the 1s group and 2s group played against one another for the first time. The top 1s sides recorded some impressive results with Abu Dhabi Saracens keeping pace with the aforementioned Amblers thanks to an away win 49-7 over DSC Eagles 2s. Hurricanes 2s were the other big winners of the round, with their comfortable away win at Arabian Knights coupled with Dragons 2s loss seeing the Canes take over as the top ranked 2s side and gain pole position for a favourable playoff draw. The Sharks and Exiles forfeited their games, giving both Tigers 1s and Quins 2s easy bonus point wins.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Your First Roundup of Gulf Rugby Action In 2019

Latest Gulf Rugby News 2019

News from the first round of Gulf Rugby action in 2019 with fixtures taking place across all three men’s divisions last weekend.

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bahrain rugby club team of the week January 2019

Team of the Week – Bahrain

A week where fixtures largely went according to the formbook contained no stand out results with high scoring home wins largely the order of the day. West Asia Premiership leaders Bahrain are the major exception, travelling to The Sevens to face a resurgent Hurricanes still buoyant from their Dubai 7s triumph last month, they dismantled the home side to win 44-19 claiming a bonus point and maintaining their cushion over Abu Dhabi Harlequins ahead of next week’s top of the table clash in the capital.

dragons vs eagles lineout jan 2019

West Asia Premiership

Bahrain and Abu Dhabi Harlequins both kept up the pace at the top of the table with high scoring bonus point wins. With Bahrain dispatching a Hurricanes side who came in to the week in third place, the gap between the top two and the rest has in fact widened further. A win for Jebel Ali Dragons in a high scoring 54-31 encounter with Dubai Eagles moves them up in to third, leapfrogging both Canes and Dubai Exiles. We can expect to see plenty of jostling for position between these three in the season’s closing weeks.

The West Asia playoff race is now looking clear as Dragons, Exiles and Canes all fight amongst themselves for 3rd and 4th places in the table to secure playoff action, all signs point towards January 18th’s crunch fixture at Zayed Sports City between Harlequins and Bahrain acting as this year’s title decider.

 

abu dhabi saracens conference rugby 2019

Conference

The last round of initial group fixtures before crossover matches between 1s and 2s sides contained no surprises. Harlequins and Dragons 2s racked up comfortable home wins over Exiles and Eagles 2s respectively. It was ‘must win’ territory for Quins as they eased past Exiles 32-8, still sit 10pts behind Hurricanes 2s, who had a bye week, and mathematically at least still in the race for a playoff place as a result. Amongst the 1s group, Abu Dhabi Saracens put together a convincing win over Arabian Knights, who, despite being yet to register a win this season, deserve credit for continuing to compete week in week out. The real drama came over at Al Ain Amblers where Dubai Tigers having gone all of 2018 unbeaten, nearly came unstuck at this year’s first hurdle but held on to edge past the home side 22-19.

 

barrelhouse vs rak rugby

Community

Wins for Barrelhouse and Dragons 3s maintained both sides’ 100% records and further increased the likelihood that they will meet on finals day to decide the title. In falling to league leaders Barrelhouse 43-7, RAK Rugby slip behind Tigers 2s in the chasing pack. After a difficult start to the season, Tigers have registered three wins on the bounce, edging out local rivals Dubai Sharks 2s 26-25, and could yet sneak into contention if they can win away at the Dragons at the end of the month. There were over 100 points scored in the weekend’s other fixture in Al Ain where the Amblers 2s defeated Shaheen 67-36. Consolation for the Shaheen comes in the form of a 4 try bonus point and their first league points of the 2018/19 campaign.

 

Top Point Scorers

If you’re looking to see who’s got the latest ‘bragging rights’ in our Top Scorers table, then head straight over to our Top 10 Stats page.

Article by: Huw Harrow