UAE Expat Rugby News

Division 2 Rugby clubs withdraw from 2019/20 league

Dubai Knights 3rd XV in action against Abu Dhabi Harlequins 3rd XV

UAE Division 2 Rugby Teams Withdrawn

The second half of the Gulf Rugby season has just kicked off after the winter break where most clubs break away for the Sevens Rugby season. So far it hasn’t been the best start to 2020 for two of the UAE Division 2 Rugby Clubs as we can confirm that two teams have withdrawn from the competition.

The Dubai KnightsEagles and Dubai Shaheen have withdrawn from the competition after struggling to fulfil their fixtures throughout the first half of the season.

Division 2 began the 2019/20 season with ten clubs, all looking to compete amongst each other in what is still viewed as the “social rugby” scene and also previously known as the Community League. Teams play their fixtures every fortnight, so there is less pressure for players to commit to training unlike the upper Division 1 and Premiership leagues which have a much busier schedule throughout the season and the need to perform at a more competitive level week in week out.

Click the button below to view upcoming fixtures from the UAE Division 2 league

winners of Dubai rugby sevens 2019

So thats the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens over with for another year

The 50th Anniversary celebrations of the Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens were taken to a whole new level with the Emirates A380 Airbus flying over The Sevens Stadium, not once but twice, giving spectators a beautiful and close view of the plane! One of the biggest events of the weekend was of course, the performance of international pop-singer Kylie Minogue in concert with her fans singing and dancing on pitch 2 and in the Rugby Village along with a Freddy Mercury tribute artist, Police band and cheerleaders performed during the breaks and entertained the crowds.

The winning teams (listed below) will certainly remember this years sevens tournament, with an impressive total of 96 Gulf teams competing in seven different tournaments over the three day event at The Sevens Stadium, we bring you up to date with who’s won what and who gets bragging rights for the next twelve months!

Gulf Mens League

Gulf Mens League Winners 2019

Gulf Mens League Winners 2019

Trophy Winners – Dubai Hurricanes

Gulf Women

Gulf Women Trophy Winners 2019

Gulf Women Trophy Winners 2019

Trophy Winners – Dubai Hurricanes

Gulf Women Plate Winners 2019

Gulf Women Plate Winners 2019

Plate Winners – Al Ain Amblers

Gulf Mens Open

gulf mens open trophy winners 2019

Gulf Mens Open Trophy Winners 2019

Trophy Winners – Sri Lions

Gulf Mens Open Plate Winners 2019

Gulf Mens Open Plate Winners 2019

Plate Winners – Multiplex Bulls

Gulf Mens Social

gulf mens social trophy winners 2019

Gulf Mens Social Trophy Winners 2019

Trophy Winners – Dubai Celts

Gulf Mens Social Plate Winners 2019

Gulf Mens Social Plate Winners 2019

Plate Winners – Dubai Lankans

Gulf Vets

Gulf Vets Trophy Winners 2019

Gulf Vets Trophy Winners 2019

Trophy Winners – Jebel Ali Dragons

Gulf Vets Plate Winners 2019

Gulf Vets Plate Winners 2019

Plate Winners – Abu Dhabi French EFR

Gulf Under 19 Girls

Gulf Under 19 Girls Trophy-winners-2019

Gulf Under 19 Girls Trophy-winners-2019

Trophy Winners – Dubai Exiles

Gulf Under 19 Boys

Gulf Under 19 Boys Trophy Winners 2019

Gulf Under 19 Boys Trophy Winners 2019

Trophy Winners – Dubai College

Gulf Under 19 Boys Plate Winners 2019

Gulf Under 19 Boys Plate Winners 2019

Plate Winners – Abu Dhabi Harlequins

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Asia Rugby CEO job vacancy

Asia Rugby announced CEO job vacancy for the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong

With a closing date set for the 27th December 2019, applicants are requested to send a curriculum vitae and a cover letter to Asia Rugby as soon as possible. The successful applicant could be based in Dubai and will report directly to President of Asia Rugby – Qais Al Dhalai.

Jump right in…

Asia Rugby executive committee

Asia Rugby executive committee

Job Description

Asia Rugby is one of the six regional associations of World Rugby and is responsible for over thirty member unions across the continent. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) shall be reporting to the President of Asia Rugby on all matters as well as responsible to the Executive Committee and relevant sub committees for ensuring that the approved activities of Asia Rugby are implemented with the highest levels of integrity, efficiency and professionalism; and within budget and operational constraints.

The CEO of Asia Rugby shall be responsible for building up a solid commercial portfolio of sponsors and partners; Also the CEO is accountable towards managing a team of highly qualified, motivated consultants to deliver the Asia Rugby Strategic Plan 2020-2024 objectives. Additionally, the CEO must demonstrate dynamic and inspirational leadership skills and the ability to work in a complex stakeholders.

Position Objectives

The overall key areas that will need to be delivered include but not limited to the following:

  • Budgeting and Commercial
  • Governance and Compliance of member Union
  • Competitions across the Region
  • Development of the Game

Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  1. Proven experience in running an organisation, preferably in the sporting environment.
  2. Experience in business development, building a successful commercial portfolio and financial relationships with partners and sponsors.
  3. Knowledge of World Rugby practice and procedures.
  4. Preferably educated to Tertiary Education. World Rugby qualifications would be an advantage.
  5. Fluency in spoken and written English. Knowledge of a second Asian language would be an advantage.
  6. Computer proficiency.
  7. Excellent organisational and communication skills with the ability to be flexible and apply tact.
  8. Ability to work in a multi-cultural environment with stakeholders who may have significantly different levels of experience and ability.
  9. Must have residency status in an Asian country.

Required Experience

Proven experience in the following areas is essential:

  1. Governance and Administration
  2. Legal and Regulatory matters
  3. Management
  4. Budgeting
  5. Commercial

Legal Status

The successful candidate will provide his/her services as a contractor and will be required to have a company/legal entity registered in his/her country of residence/operation.

Equal Opportunities

Asia Rugby is an equal opportunity organisation.

Safeguarding and good practices

Adherence to Asia Rugby policies and procedures is required. Asia Rugby is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all involved in the game of rugby and expects all contracted individuals and volunteers to share this commitment. Applicants will be subjected to a background check before finalising contracts.


All roles’ holders must maintain an appropriate standard of confidentiality. Any disclosures of confidential information (including personal information kept on computer or other media) made unlawfully outside the proper course of duty will be treated as a serious disciplinary offence. Personal circumstances must allow the candidate to work extended hours during times of peak activity including evenings and weekends.

Application process

Applicants are requested to send a curriculum vitae and a cover letter to the following address: and must include:

  1. Expected remuneration
  2. Available starting date

Closing Date

The closing date for application is 27th December 2019. Shortlisted candidates can expect to be contacted in early January 2020 to arrange for interviews. Job commencement date expected 3rd February 2020.

Hurricanes Ladies - Dubai 7s Gulf Womens Champions 2019

Hurricanes Ladies – Dubai 7s Gulf Womens Champions 2019

Only a few hours after their men’s team retained the Gulf Men’s League title, it was double joy for Dubai Hurricanes as they swept aside Emirates Firebirds 52-0 to add the Gulf Women’s trophy to their burgeoning collection.

Alexandrea Cook was the star of the show, claiming a hat-trick of tries and a total of 32 points in an impressive individual performance for a well drilled Hurricanes outfit. As well as causing a constant threat with her pace, Cook’s kicking also proved a significant factor with Firebirds struggling to secure possession from her well placed restarts.

It was Cook herself who benefitted from hesitation in fielding the opening kick off, leading to an early score under the posts. That set the tone for a first half where tries came at regular intervals – Paula McCarthy’s score on the stroke of half time putting the game beyond reach at 31-0 at the break.

Problems at the restart and the breakdown made it difficult for the Firebirds to keep hold of possession for long periods in the game, their brightest moments coming with a second half attack which set Jasmine Singh free down the touchline only to be dragged down when entering the 22.

The second half also saw the pick of Hurricanes tries with Cook again the beneficiary but the score coming after a number of slick handling combinations in a length of the field move with Sian Williams to the fore. Williams had herself earlier got on the scoresheet, with the additional tries coming from Harriet Witty and Jade Cunningham.

Despite their disappointment at the one-sided nature of the final, the Firebirds will take pride in their determination to compete and tackle until the final whistle, and can reflect on another successful tournament after beating a competitive Abu Dhabi Harlequins side 15-14 in their semi-final to reach a second final in three years.

For the Hurricanes, they will now claim to have usurped Dubai Knights Eagles (who they defeated in their semi-final) as the number one side in the UAE women’s game and will go in to the latter rounds of the Women’s Sevens Series as very much the team to beat.

Dubai Hurricanes: Alexandrea Cook, Bridie Johnson, Danielle Dempsey, Hannah Carey, Harriet Witty, Jade Cunningham, Minal Tailor, Paloma Adorisio-Hughes, Paula McCarthy, Sarah Keating, Shelley Forde, Sian Williams

Emirates Firebirds: Belinda Uyassi-Holloway, Carmen Gea Ortiz, Josephine Taofinuu, Kathryn McClay, Maria Picco Palacio, Marnie Howard, Melisa Lee, Monique van der Bank, Olivia Collins, Sydnee Chang, Nicole Bailey, Jasmine Singh

Dubai Hurricanes - Dubai 7s Gulf Mens Champions 2019

Dubai Hurricanes – Dubai 7s Gulf Mens Champions 2019

Dubai Hurricanes completed a successful defence of their Gulf Mens League Dubai 7s crown, defeating Bahrain 26-10 in a final they largely controlled from start to finish.

Despite having won the pool fixture between the two sides and seen off a strong Abu Dhabi Harlequins outfit in their semi final, Bahrain RFC were never really able to get their power game going and were hampered by a string of handling errors at critical moments.

A second half comeback was fleetingly on the cards after Greg Heath’s try reduced the deficit to 10-21, but dropped passes and the ability of Hurricanes to take the sting out of the revival by slowing down the game meant the outcome was never in serious doubt.

The opening proceedings however, had seen Hurricanes adopt a much faster tempo, moving the ball into the wider channels and allowing their strike runners space to operate. Playing with the confidence of reigning champions they were impressive in their ability to keep control of possession when under pressure and manoeuvre a heavier set of Bahrain forwards around the park.

The ever dangerous Sakiusa Naisau opened the scoring with a superb solo effort from deep within Hurricanes territory, his try then followed by another breakaway score from Tobias Oakley after good work from Blair Cochrane. Lewis Anderson added a third – all three converted by Boris Finck – before a typically powerful surge from Jack Phillips created the space for Kyran Odendaal to give Bahrain hope going in to the break.

With a sense that the job was already half done, Hurricanes were able to take their foot off the gas in the second period, employing a more conservative approach with kicks to the corner and even a rolling maul (much to the delight of their home support). They were ultimately to have the last say after a series of phases camped in the opposition 22 put Ed Lewis over in the corner to complete the scoring.

If their 2018 triumph had seen Hurricanes emerge as something of a surprise package, in retaining their title they have underlined their calibre in the shortened format. Both sides will now switch attention back to the 15 a side West Asia Premiership which resumes in the new year where Dubai Exiles sit unbeaten at the top of the league.

Bahrain: Adam Wallace, Faataualofa Paila, Graham Bishop, Greg Heath, Jack Phillips, James Whittingham, Kyle Nair, Kyran Odendaal, Nika Morehu, Rhys Fitzgerald, Daniel Parete, Vairaro Mahutariki

Dubai Hurricanes: Blair Cochrane, Boris Finck, Ed Lewis, Elliot Speed, Emosi Ratuvecanaua, Harry Heathcote, Lewis Anderson, Pio Tanimatuku, Sakiusa Naisau, Tim Richards, Tobias Oakeley, Tomos Roderick

frequently asked questions about Gulf Rugby

frequently asked questions about Gulf Rugby

Are you interested in playing rugby in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or anywhere else in the United Arab Emirates? If the answer’s YES, then stick around as we’ve got all your questions answered below. If there is a question you need answering about playing rugby in Dubai then give us a shout and we’ll answer it for you.

All You Need To Know About Playing Rugby In The UAE

Q: How old do you have to be to play rugby in Dubai?

There is no age limit for playing rugby in Dubai.You can pick a rugby ball up a join one of the many training sessions held around the country, but to play in any senior competitive rugby match you will need to be over 18 years of age. Rugby Union training classes start from as young as two years of age. Players well in to their fifties are still making the odd appearance in social rugby club fixtures too.

Q: Do you play rugby on sand pitches in the desert?

Rugby in the Gulf has come on a long way over the past ten years. All of the matches played in any of the domestic leagues for men, women and children are played on grass pitches these days with some being of exceptional quality surfaces. The last remaining sand rugby pitch was the home ground for the then RAK Goats (now RAK Rugby).

Q: Do rugby players get paid to play rugby in the UAE?

No, at the moment there are no rugby clubs offering financial contracts to play rugby in the UAE. The level of rugby here is still very much played as an amateur sport.

Q: How can I find a rugby club in Dubai?

Dubai is the main city for rugby in the UAE and has nine rugby clubs all playing competitive rugby at various levels. You can find a rugby club in Dubai here. You can choose from the following rugby clubs that are situated within Dubai: Barrelhouse, Dragons, Exiles, Hurricanes, KnightsEagles, Shaheen, Sharks, Tigers, Warriors.

Q: How can I find a rugby club in Abu Dhabi?

Abu Dhabi, although the capital of the UAE only has three official rugby clubs that compete in the domestic Gulf leagues. You can find a rugby club in Abu Dhabi here or choose from the following: Al Ain Amblers, Harlequins, Saracens.

Q: How can I find a rugby club in Sharjah?

There is only one rugby club situated in the Emirate of Sharjah and they are the Sharjah Wanderers RFC. One of the oldest rugby clubs n the region.

Q: How can I find a rugby club in Ras Al Khaimah?

There is only one rugby club situated in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah and they are RAK Rugby club, also once known as the Rak Goats.

Q: How much does it cost to play rugby in the UAE?

To play rugby for any of the local rugby clubs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah or Ras Al Khaimah you will need to pay club fees and have full medical insurance. Club fees vary with some clubs including medical insurance within their package. Fees last for one season at a time and are renewed every new season.

Q: Can I play for a team if I am visiting the United Arab Emirates?

You can only play rugby in the UAE you need to be have a residents visa and have an Emirates ID or have an application in progress. Without the official ID and appropriate visa, you will not be eligible to play rugby in the UAE. Tourist visa’s are not accepted.

Q: Who is in charge of Gulf Rugby?

The UAE Rugby Federation (UAERF) are the governing body for all rugby within the UAE and are one of the Member Unions of World Rugby. The UAERF contract Gulf Rugby Management (GRM) to oversee the day to day running of all the rugby leagues and competitions that are played within the UAE. GRM are situated over at The Sevens Stadium where the Dubai Sevens Rugby event takes place each year.

Q: Where can I go to watch a rugby match?

There are very few rugby clubs in the region that have their own official grounds and club house. Rugby matches in Dubai are played at one of the following venues: Jebel Ali Centre Of Excellence, Dubai Sports City, Dubai College and finally, The Sevens Stadium. If you want to attend a rugby match in Abu Dhabi, you can visit, Zayed Sports City Stadium, Al Ghazal Golf Club and the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club. To watch a rugby fixture in Sharjah, you can go to Sharjah Wanderers Sports Club. Finally to watch a rugby match in Ras Al Khaimah you can visit Al Hamra Golf Club.

Q: Can you drink alcohol at a rugby match in the UAE?

Within the confines of certain locations around the UAE you can drink alcohol during a rugby match. The following locations have alcohol being served during a game: Dubai Sports City Rugby Park, The Sevens Stadium, Al Ain Rugby Club, Al Ghazal Golf Club, Zayed Sports City, Sharjah Wanderers Sports Club, Jebel Ali Center of Excellence and Al Hamra Golf Club.

Dubai Rugby Sevens Gulf Rugby Guide 2019

Here’s your Gulf Rugby guide to the 2019 Dubai Rugby Sevens, which kicks off this coming Thursday 5th December

When the summer heat has dissipated, the Christmas songs are blasting and Toffee Nut Lattes are being served, you know it’s that special time of year again – the Dubai Rugby Sevens weekend is upon us!

Celebrating its 50th Year, the Dubai Rugby 7’s 2019 will no doubt be a huge spectacle. A reduction of rugby teams this year however, will be noticeable as Pitch 2 rolls out the red carpet to make way for Pop Queen – Kylie Minogue. As ever, we’ll stay focussed on the domestic rugby and provide you with all you need to know about what’s happening in the main Gulf Competitions for 2019:

Dubai Hurricanes - Gulf Mens Champions

Dubai Hurricanes – Gulf Mens Champions

Gulf Men’s League

The main tournament for domestic rugby followers, featuring the familiar names from the West Asia Premiership and won last year by tournament underdogs – Dubai Hurricanes when they beat Abu Dhabi Harlequins for first Dubai 7s title in over a decade. As with the nature of the Dubai7s, it’s always a tough call to predict a rugby club winning this tournament as it’s always so open. Any team could win this on the day! With the promotion of the Dubai Tigers up to the Premiership, they will feature in this years Gulf Mens League competition for the first time, but will also field a side in both Pool A and Pool B.

The teams will complete a pool stage round robin over the opening two days, looking to gain favourable seedings for the knockout stages, which culminate with the Final on 12:44pm in front of the main crowd on Pitch 1.

Pool A: Dubai Hurricanes, Bahrain RFC, Dubai Exiles, Dubai Tigers 2
Pool B: Jebel Ali Dragons, Abu Dhabi Harlequins, Dubai KnightsEagles, Dubai Tigers 1

Gulf Womens Champions 2018 - Dubai Eagles

Gulf Womens Champions 2018 – Dubai Eagles

Gulf Women

Over the past three years, the women’s rugby game in both UAE and the wider region has grown emphatically. Previous champions DSC Eagles (now known as Dubai KnightsEagles) have won the tournament in the 2017 and 2018 competitions and the Dubai Hurricanes won the inaugural trophy back in 2016.  Of late in the domestic Sevens Series league, both clubs have been the dominant force in the women’s game and should prove to be a mouth watering fixture should they meet in the knockout stages of the competition, that is, unless one of the ever competitive teams below conjure up a surprise defeat to either side.

The teams are split in to four pools, the top two in each proceeding to the Trophy knockout stages and the bottom two entering the Plate. Womens Finals take place on Saturday with the Trophy to be contested at 16:20 on Pitch 2.

Pool A: Dubai KnightsEagles, Abu Dhabi Harlequins 1, Emirates Firebirds Pink, MusCATs
Pool B: Al Ain Amblers, AUC Wolves, Emirates Firebirds Blue, Amman Citadel
Pool C: Dubai Hurricanes, Sharjah Wanderers, Abu Dhabi Saracens, Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2
Pool D: Transforma Panthers, RAK Rides, Kuwait Scorpions, Dubai Tigers RFC

Gulf Mens Open winners 2018 - Roberts Constructions

Gulf Mens Open winners 2018 – Roberts Constructions

Gulf Men’s Open

A colourful mixture of sides from across West Asia will be making the trip to Dubai with 18 teams in total playing in four Pools that make up the Gulf mens Open this year. Last year won by Roberts Constructions, in a thriller against Sharjah Wanderers, just edging them to victory with a 15-12 win.

The pool stages once again spread across both days with two rounds on Thursday and a single round on Friday with knockout stages culminating on a busy Saturday. Group winners and three best runners up will enter the Trophy, remaining runners up, all third placed teams and the best of the groups back markers will compete for the plate. The Trophy final is scheduled for 15:40 on Pitch 2, immediately following the Plate which will be held on Pitch 6.

Pool A: Roberts Constructions, Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2nd XV, Saudi Rugby, Sri Lions
Pool B: Abu Dhabi Saracens, Amman Citadel, Multiplex Bulls, Muscat RFC
Pool C: Al Ain Amblers, Ceylon Warriors, Riyadh Falcons, Dubai Sharks
Pool D: Kuwait Scorpions, Jebel Ali Dragons 2nd XV, Bahrain Firbolgs, UAE Shaheen

Dubai Celts - Gulf Mens Social Winners 2018

Dubai Celts – Gulf Mens Social Winners 2018

Gulf Men’s Social

Barrelhouse, Harlequins 3rd XV and RAK Rugby, all level on points in the domestic Division 2 league will be looking to use their recent good form in the fifteens game to their advantage in the Sevens game. Last year it was RAK Rugby who made it to the final, just pipping Barrelhouse in the quarters to unfortunately succumb to a strong Dubai Celts side 24-15 on a packed out Pitch 2.

Pool A: Dubai Celts, Abu Dhabi Harlequins 3rd XV, Ceylon, Jazan Nomads
Pool B: Rak Rugby, Dubai Lankans, Dhofar Nomads, AUC Wolves 2
Pool C: Mediclinic Barrelhouse Warriors, Red Sea Rugby, PDO Pirates, The Buss Pirates
Pool D: Emirates Flying Muppets, AUC Wolves 1, DAK Demons, SAFA Community School

Jebel Ali Dragons - Gulf Vets Winners 2018

Jebel Ali Dragons – Gulf Vets Winners 2018

Gulf Vets

The 10’s tournament focuses on over 35’s (veterans of rugby). Last year the Jebel Ali Dragons Vets lifted the Trophy for the second consecutive year as they scorched a 22-7 victory over Joining Jacks. This year sees sixteen teams (reduced from twenty three), battle out Pool rounds before being placed into Trophy and Plate knockout tournaments. Will the Dragons be on the hunt to make it three in a row for the Gulf Vets Trophy? The following teams will be looking to stop that from happening:

Pool A: Jebel Ali Dragons Vets, Ceylon Warriors, Riyadh Scorpions, Abu Dhabi French EFR
Pool B: Joining Jack, Rocktape Barrelhouse Vandals, Sharjah Wanderers, Bahrain Golden Oldies
Pool C: Musaffah Billy Goats, Abu Dhabi Harlequins Vets, Daddy Canes, Khobar Eagles
Pool D: Al Ain Amblers Vets, Dubai Hurricanes, Warrior Frogs, Dubai Sharks

Dubai Exiles - U19 Girls Winners 2018

Dubai Exiles – U19 Girls Winners 2018

Gulf Girls Under 19’s

In the Gulf U19 Girls competition, the previous two years have been dominated by the Dubai Exiles. They also made it to the final of the 2016 competition only to lose to a strong BSAK side. Last year the Exiles put an average of 35 points on each opposition and only conceded a total of 17 points throughout the whole weekend so will certainly be going into this year as one of the favorites.

Pool A: Dubai Exiles, Abu Dhabi French EFR, Al Ain Amblers, Al Maha
Pool B: Dubai KnightsEagles, British School Al Khubairat, Dubai English Speaking College, Dubai Hurricanes

Dubai College - U19 boys 2018 winners

Dubai College – U19 boys 2018 winners

Gulf Boys Under 19’s

The dominant Under 19 Youth Rugby Team to beat over the past two years at the Dubai Rugby Sevens has been Dubai College. In the 2018 Gulf Boys competition, the final was played out between a Dubai Collage A and B side as they saw off rivals BSAK and DESC to guarantee silverware for the local Dubai School based next to Al Sufouh. Always a superb showcase of up and coming talent from the Gulf region, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to watch some of the future stars of World Rugby cut their teeth in at the ceiling level of grass roots rugby.

In similar fashion to the mens rugby, there will be four Pools leading to Trophy and a Plate knockout stages. Below are the how the preliminary pool rounds will be decided:

Pool A: Dubai College, Deira International School, Al Ain Amblers, Warriors
Pool B: Dubai English Speaking College, Repton Royals, Jumeirah College, GEMS World Academy Dubai
Pool C: British School Al Khubairat, Abu Dhabi Harlequins, Dubai Hurricanes, Al Yasimina Academy
Pool D: Dubai Exiles, Jumeirah English Speaking School Blues, The English College, Bahrain Colts

Gulf Rugby

Gulf Rugby Roundup

Heres our final Gulf Rugby Roundup of 2019 as we find out who will be heading into Christmas ‘Top of the Pops’ across all of the the domestic leagues.

Jump Right In…

Abu Dhabi Saracens RFC

Team of the Week – Abu Dhabi Saracens 1st XV

Saracens 1st XV have had a fantastic lead up to the Christmas break with an unbeaten run of five wins from five in the Division One league. Following the disappointment of just missing out on qualifying for the 2018/19 Grand Finals, the Sarries boys have really set out a marker in the first half of this season, which should see them in good contention to make up for loosing out last season.

West Asia Premiership Rugby

West Asia Premiership

Sitting just out in front in the West Asia Premiership league are the Dubai Exiles. Last years finalists have also enjoyed the success of an unbeaten first half to their 2019/20 Gulf Rugby campaign. Exiles are the only team to have beaten Bahrain RFC who continue to chase close behind them with a two point deficit. Also looking comfortable to be in with a shot at the finals come the end of the season, are the Dubai Hurricanes, who have turned around their fortunes from last season where they finished second from bottom. The battle for that fourth spot is looking tasty though. Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Premiership newbies – Dubai Tigers, will be looking to make every single point count moving forward but there’s still plenty to play for, so we look forward to see how the second half of the season plays out.

UAE Division One Rugby

UAE Division One

As mentioned in our Team of the Week, Saracens will enjoy their Christmas break knowing that they have a 100% win record keeping them above Hurricanes 2nd XV with a five point cushion. Chasing a top four finish are the Exiles 2s and Sharjah Wanderers. Last year, Gulf Rugby Management disqualified the Exiles 2s due to them forfeiting four fixtures throughout the season so they’ll want to make amends this season and will be looking to be in contention for a top four finish.

UAE Division 2 Rugby

UAE Division Two

The Division Two league is going to be intriguing to watch once again this season. It’s a four horse race with Barrelhouse, RAK Rugby, Harlequins 3s and new comers, Muscat Rugby all with fifteen points at the half way point. Barrelhouse have inflicted some heavy defeats throughout the season which leaves them 70 clear on points difference ahead of RAK. There could be a real battle to see who finishes in the top two places to earn those teams a place in this season’s Grand Finals Day.

Gulf Rugby Womens Sevens Series

UAE Womens Sevens Series

We’re into the third season of competitive Womens rugby and we’re finally starting to see the gap close between two time winners, KnightsEagles (formerly the Eagles). The Dubai Hurricanes have knocked the KnightsEagles off their perch, currently sitting top of the table having won three of the four rounds played so far. The upcoming Dubai Rugby Sevens will prove interesting as we see if the KnightsEagles can make it a third Gulf Women’s rugby title in a row, having previously won under their old Eagles RFC badge.

So that’s about it for this half of the season. We now turn our attention to the Dubai 7s which will begin on the 5th December over at The Sevens Stadium.


Paul Kirsten Al Ain Amblers RFC

We have this weeks Choosday Chat with departing Amblers Back Row, Paul Kirsten


Age: 43
Born: Pretoria, South Africa
Club: Al Ain Amblers RFC
Position: Back Row
Height: 215cm
Weight: 125kg

“Meat is meat and a man must eat”

Do you have any nicknames?

None, as far as know, you should ask the rest of the Amblers squad though! I did get called “Burj Khalifa” at last years Dubai Rugby 7’s though.

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

It was either play rugby or stay in class doing homework, so it was an easy choice for me to make.

Whats been your proudest moment playing rugby in the UAE?

Playing for the first time in nearly 15 years against the Knights with a team that barely knows you and accepts you without hesitation.

Who are the jokers at the Amblers?

That would have to be Sean Emmett of course, and “Peet The Pug“.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

The rugby club’s pool is a good alternative and sitting watching the youth rugby team practice every night of the week.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

I’d love to have a proper sit down with Bakkies Botha, Mark Andrews and Pierre Spies. They’re three of the best enforcers.

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

That would have to be Sean Grimly, I’d also like to know how it feels to be short and enjoy short jokes!

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

To balance my work-life and my family life and to be able to set a good example for my two sons.

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

I’m pretty good at solving Analytical puzzles.

Who has the worst Dress sense in the club?

Rob never wearing shoes.

What are the best things about being part of the Amblers?

The Al Ain Amblers become your family away from home, they support and encourage you while making fun of you, just like family can.

What’s been your fondest moment playing rugby in the UAE?

Playing in the Dubai 7s will always been a great memory for me.

Who would be your Mr. Men character and why?

Before my time, I really don’t know them at all but I’d have to go with Mr. Tall as I’m over seven foot tall.

What would you do if you found a penguin in the freezer?

I’d have to Braai it. Meat is meat and a man must eat!

Qais Dhalai appointed Asia Rugby President 2019

Qais Abdulla Al Dhalai voted as new Asia Rugby President as new EXCO named.

Ex-secretary General of the UAE Rugby Federation – Qais Al Dhalai, has been voted as the new Asia Rugby President succeeding Aga Hussain. In the EXCO and Council meeting held in Bali – Indonesia, on 16th November, the new EXCO was voted for by Asia Rugby’s Members.

Qais Dhalai - UAERF
Dhalai on his candidate submission said:

“The strength of my ties and presence among fellow Asian member unions, local sports governing bodies and the continental regional rugby unions is leading my way forward to the Asia Rugby Presidency, a vision I have set for Asia Rugby to lead with impact through robust governance and high standards of performance in line with World Rugby and Asia Rugby’s strategic plans which is to reposition the Asia member unions on the global rugby map.”

Sean Stevens - Choosday Chat Interview 2019

Sean Stevens representing the UAE National Team in 2018

We have a Choosday Chat with Abu Dhabi Harlequins Back Row, Sean Stevens


Age: 30
Born: Bloemfontein, South Africa
Club: Abu Dhabi Harlequins Rugby Club
Position: Back Row
Height: 183cm
Weight: 96kg

“I ended up taking a light chomp on his arm”

What do you get up to in your spare time?

I don’t have much spare time at the moment (ha) but I like to read or binge watch a good series on Netflix.

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

I’m a late bloomer, when I was seventeen my friends from high school convinced me to give it a shot, so I did.

Whats been your most embarrassing moment on the rugby field?

There are so many to pick from, but one that stands out was when we were playing Bahrain, I was in a ruck and somehow their hooker got his forearm around my mouth area and I ended up taking a light chomp on his arm. Admitted it to the ref and got binned.

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

Jon Stannard, the man does not age one bit. He looks about ten years younger than what he actually is. Plus I don’t know what he does for a living and yet he’s always out and about doing all sorts of fun activities.

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

I’d love to get my masters degree in Sports Science and to travel as much as possible.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I think most fitness professionals love chocolate, and it happens to be mine as well. Also I love a fresh pint of Guinness!

Do you have any hidden talents?

I can turn it on in the kitchen when I want to, I enjoy making food.

Which team-mate would you most definitely not like to be stranded in the desert with?

Has to be Luke Stevenson, he will most likely catch a tan and wait for someone to rescue him. Or he will be on the hunt for women instead of finding food and water!

Who has the worst Dress sense?

Quins are not known (I think) for being fashionable, but Matt Thomas does come to mind. He’s more concerned about his moustache than his clothes, but he does have a strong upper lip slug at least.

What music do you listen to to get pumped for a match?

I’m a rock fan at heart, so anything from Linkin Park will get me pumped, but mainly whatever DJ Muzza has on his playlist in the changing room also does the trick.

What are the best things about the the Harlequins?

We all have the same mindset, which is to win and be the best Gulf Rugby team. The friendships gained on and off the field aren’t too bad either.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

It would be James Haskell – he’s got great bants, Jean-Claude Van Damme as he was my childhood hero and Alan Donald who was my childhood sports star.

Where’s your favourite ground to play at in the UAE?

Zayed Sports City of course! It’s a great field, good facilities, top atmosphere and you get to end a match with awesome grub at the Sportmans Arms.

Who would be your Mr. Men character?

Mr. Cool for sure. I mean the name says it all.

A Polar Bear vs Black Bear in the ring… Who you backing to win?

Neither of them! I’d hope they could just chill and become friends for life.

Gulf Rugby News Round 3 scores
As we have a week off domestic rugby let’s recap with the latest from across all four divisions in Gulf Rugby as the season begins to take shape.

Jump Right In…

Team Of The Week – Dubai Tigers 1st XV

team of the week Dubai Tigers

Photo Credit: Alex Johnson

We’re only into round three but the Dubai Tigers are already causing upsets in the region. Last week they picked up their first win in the West Asia Premiership against a strong Dragons side who were looking to make amends for their first round drumming by Harlequins. Tigers lost their opening fixture against current West Asia Champions – Bahrain, but took Quins to the wire in Round 2 only to miss out on a win by two points. Their first three fixtures have all been against the top sides of the Gulf and have certainly shown that they are more than capable of playing Premiership rugby in the Middle East.

West Asia Premiership

Dubai Exiles 1st xv
Dubai Exiles celebrated their second win of the season against title holders Bahrain, in what was a repeat of twelve months ago in a similar victory at the Sevens Stadium, beating them 21-15. The Exiles are the only team to have beaten Bahrain, ending the #RedWall’s run of sixteen straight wins. Third round wins also came for Harlequins as they beat struggling KnightsEagles 55-19 down at Sports City and as already mentioned, The Tigers, a team gaining momentum, beating the Dragons 30-25 on home soil.

Division 1

Abu Dhabi Saracens RFC

Photo Credit: Chamara Senarath

Relishing their clubs revival in Division 1, the Abu Dhabi Saracens sit top of the table having comfortably beaten the Dragons 43-8. KnightsEagles 2nd XV tasted victory for the first time as they managed to beat Harlequins 26-12, seeing them share the middle of the league table with Al Ain Amblers. After a shaky start, it looks like the Wanderers are back to winning ways as they comfortably beat Tigers, lifting them to fourth place in the league. Hurricanes bagged their second win of the season, beating last years finalists Amblers over in the Garden City, 44-10. The Dubai Sharks are still to register a win in almost twelve months, but will settle for a well earned draw against the Exiles 2nd XV, 22-22.

Division 2

RAK Rugby

Photo Credit: David Learman

A team enjoying life at the moment are RAK Rugby, who have made it two from two, thumping the Sharks 56-5 at Al Hamra, their new home ground, which was officially opened by Sheikh Abdullah bin Humaid Al Qasimi before kick off. Continuing their successful start to life in Division 2, Muscat defeated last years champions Dragons 34-17, keeping them joint top on points with RAK. Barrelhouse notched a heavy scoreline against the Saracens, lifting them to third place in the league with an 81-0 scoreline. Amblers picked up an easy win against the Shaheen who forfeited their fixture and the KnightsEagles vs Harlequins game was postponed.

Womens Sevens Series

Saracens Ladies Rugby Team
Last weekend saw Round 2 of the Womens Sevens Series played out up in the Capital as it was successfully hosted by the Abu Dhabi Harlequins in Zayed Sports City. The Dubai KnightsEagles Ladies tasted victory for the first time this season as they look to make it a third season on the bounce as champions. Winners of the B League were the Abu Dhabi Saracens ladies team. Sarries ladies Captain  Michelle Moyles said:

“It was a really successful start to our season and a testament to all the hard work we’ve been doing at training. The support of our coaches and the men’s teams have all really helped build an encouraging and positive atmosphere at the club.”

Assistant head coach of Saracens ladies, Luca Mene praised the team, saying:

“The girls played amazing rugby, which was appreciated by everyone. I received congratulations from referees, other coaches, as well as many players from the other teams. Our squad was only created last year, the year before we had only four girls, and couldn’t make a team up. If we look back on our achievements, Friday was a great success. We won our first tournament and beat, for the first time, RAK Ladies RFC, which happens to be a very strong and experienced team.”

From a revolutionary standpoint, women’s rugby seems to be gaining more prominence now in the region, than ever before. We look forward to the next round which will be on the 1st November and hosted by the Abu Dhabi Saracens at Al Ghazal.

Oliver Johnson Choosday Chat

Oliver Johnson – UAE National Rugby player

We have a Choosday Chat with Jebel Ali Dragons Centre, Oliver Johnson


Age: 29
Born: Winchester, England
Club: Dragons Rugby Club
Position: Centre
Height: 188cm
Weight: 99.5kg

“I used to be able to play ‘Coronation Street’ on the Saxophone”

Do you have any nicknames?

I get called OJ a lot.

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

I went to a school that was very rugby orientated and on top of that, my dad also had a big influence on me, getting me out of bed every Sunday morning and driving me to training for a local club.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

I like to either be playing sport, going to the gym, getting a good coffee in me, or being flat out on the sofa watching a movie!

Do you have any phobias?

No, but watching ‘Flight’ whilst on a trip back to UK wasn’t a good idea.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with?

Probably a comedian…. Ricky Gervais, Peter Kay or Joe Rogan.

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

I always wanted to check off a triathlon and dare I say it… an iron man. However to date, most I have swam is two lengths of my buildings pool, the most I have ridden is one loop of Al Qudra cycle track and the most I have ran is a half marathon… let alone doing them back to back!

If you had to be shipwrecked on a deserted island, but all your human needs—such as food and water—were taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you?

Some kind of ball for entertainment and a guitar. I don’t know how to play, but a good place to learn!

Do you have any hidden talents?

I used to be able to play ‘Coronation Street’ on the Saxophone and can still play ‘Clocks’ by Coldplay on the piano.

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

Florence Nightingale.

What are the best things about the Dragons?

As with all clubs (i’ve had a few), its always great to meet and play alongside new team-mates, but with the Dragons I have been lucky enough to play alongside a school friend who I played rugby with 16 years ago.

What was the last brunch you went on?

Mr Miyagis last Friday evening.

What would you do if you found a penguin in the freezer?

If it was the chocolate bar, read the joke and eat it. If it was an actual penguin, I would take him back to the zoo. One of the KnightsEagles actually told me a story about during one of his school trips, one of the lads stole a penguin from the zoo and had it on the bus on the way back home (true story!).

Which Mr. Men character would you be?

Either Mr. Nosey (as I’ve got a good beak on me), or Mr. Greedy.

If you could go back in time to any moment in history, where/when would it be?

I could definitely pick a few great rugby matches I have been involved with! But I think I would go back to one of the boys Ski Trips. I got back from Japan early this year and had a great time catching up with a mate from NZ, loads of Chu-Ais, naked Onsens, what more could you ask for!

Oliver Johnson has recently returned from action in the Asia Rugby Sevens Series where the United Arab Emirates rugby squad competed in three consecutive Rugby Sevens tournaments in Korea, China and Sri Lanka.

rak rugby club new pitch opening 2019

Photo Credit: David Learman

It’s been a long time in the making, but RAK Rugby club finally have a place they can call ‘Home’

Rak Rugby RFC have had their fair share of pitch space over the years. Up until 2017 they were the only Gulf rugby club who played their fixtures on the golden sands of Ras Al Khaimah, training at various locations around the region and playing mostly away fixtures. It was then in 2017 that they made a move to the Tower Links Golf Club where they were able to train on grass for the first time and have a base to build on their foundations as a club which has origins going back to1969, and typically played as an informal social side.

“It is the culmination of many months of hard work and we are proud of how far this club has come.”

Along their journey to where they are today in 2019, which is at a new location within Al Hamra golf club, they have great progress on and off the pitch and still have ambitious plans for Emirati, expatriate and youth rugby in the region.

new rugby pitch opens in ras al khaimah 2019

Photo Credit: Rak Rugby

A New Chapter in the Rak Rugby Story book

After securing a new partnership with Al Hamra golf club last season, Rak rugby saw their dreams of having their own pitch take a first step in becoming reality, as ground was broken and in July the bulldozers rolled in to begin work. Fast forward three months to this coming Friday 18th October and new Chairman Ryan Reaney will be welcoming His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah bin Humaid Al Qasimi, Chief of Ras Al Khaimah’s Rulers Court and RAK Rugby’s patron, to cut the ribbon on the finished rugby pitch and club facilities that Rak Rugby club can finally call ‘Home’. The full size pitch has been built in collaboration with Al Hamra, and comes with newly built changing facilities as well as access to Al Hamra’s hospitality within the golf clubhouse.

Club Chairman, Reaney, said;

“This Friday marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of our club and rugby in the Northern Emirate. It is the culmination of many months of hard work and we are proud of how far this club has come. Credit must be given to the members of the previous committee; Simon Williams, Eddie Presch, and Dave Learman, as well as current committee members Ken Neves and Galvin McKechnie who have laid the foundations of this project and without which we would not have achieved what we have today.”

“This initiative has only been possible due to the generosity of our sponsors, some of which have been with us for several years.”

“We have also been very lucky to have forged strong new relationships with local companies. Without their financial backing and the support none of this would have materialised. We may be a small club compared to some of our brother clubs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi but we have a tenacious spirit and are proud of our historical roots in Ras Al Khaimah.”

“This is reflected in the fact we have the support and generosity of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, who is an active supporter, and to the community at large. Our goal is to grow a love of rugby within our community and we urge everyone and anyone that would like to try the sport to join our men and ladies at training on Monday and Wednesday evenings.”

Rak Rugby Club will officially open their new rugby pitch and facilities in time for the senior men’s rugby match against Division 2 side Dubai Sharks on Friday. Before the kick-off, an opening ceremony will be performed by RAK Rugby’s patron, His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah bin Humaid Al Qasimi.

Gulf Rugby Roundup
Welcome back to our Gulf Rugby updates. This week we’ve got a combo sized rugby roundup of action from both Week one and two.

Jump right in…

Team of the week – The Men In Green From Muscat

Muscat Rugby Club - Team Of The Week

Photo Credit: Muscat Rugby

The arrival of Muscat Rugby Club into Division 2 is a welcome from across a border, that is only a couple of hours drive from Dubai. It’s a great step towards growing Gulf Rugby in the region and we’re sure fixtures in Muscat city will be a highlight for all teams throughout the year. Up until this season we’ve only seen the Omani outfit playing festival rugby, mainly during the Dubai Rugby Sevens competitions. Round One of Division 2 marked the club’s competitive Gulf Rugby XVs debut, and they announced themselves in style with a hard fought 28-19 win over last years Community League finalists and table toppers – Barrelhouse (who made their XV’s rugby debut this time last year).

Karl Rasmussen, Muscat Club Captain commented on their first competitive league outing by saying:

“The most important thing is that all of the players were happy, on both sides. The fixture between us and Barrelhouse was hard fought, but absolutely in the right spirit of the game. The momentum of the game kept switching, so in the end we could not tell who would finally win, and they were unlucky not to get a win or a bonus point, but overall, the next team is going to have an even better time than Barrelhouse, especially if they travel the night before.”

The new addition to club rugby in Division 2 will no doubt make the established order in the league sit up and take notice.


Bahrain Rugby Club vs Dubai Tigers

Photo Credit: Alex Johnson

It was straight back to winning ways for Bahrain after two rounds of West Asia Rugby, as the current Champions made an impressive start to their 2019/20 campaign, collecting maximum points from fixtures against Dubai Tigers and KnightsEagles.

Abu Dhabi Harlequins also made it two from two as they swept aside the Dragons 16-56. Quins then hosted Tigers in a thriller of a match, as they scraped through with a 29-27 win. Tigers certainly look like they’re not here to make up the numbers and will have other teams in the league watching them closely with interest as the season plays out.

Division 1

Abu Dhabi Saracens vs Tigers

Photo Credit: Alex Johnson

In a new tournament structure this year, the league will not be spilt as with previous seasons, but culminates with the top four sides in the league playing a semi final knockout stage, so early wins in the season may prove crucial for teams looking for one of those top four spots.

There were encouraging starts from Dragons, Saracens and Exiles as they all collected maximum points in their opening two rounds.

Division 2

Rak Rugby vs Saracens

Photo Credit: David Learman

The ten teams competing in the social quarters of Gulf Rugby will be playing their fixtures every two weeks with a straight final place play off between the top two teams in the league after nine rounds of rugby. In their opening round of Division 2 action, Muscat, Harlequins and Rak Rugby all notched up wins as did Shaheen who benefited from a forfeit win over the KnightsEagles. The other fixture to complete the round was postponed between Amblers and Sharks.

Womens Sevens Series

Dubai Hurricanes Ladies Rugby

Photo Credit: Dubai Hurricanes

It was a strong start for the hosts of Round 1 in the UAE Womens Rugby Sevens Series competition as Dubai Hurricanes claimed their first tournament win in the A-League. A new entry this year saw the ladies from Tigers win the B-League competition.

gulf rugby summer transfer list 2019

Now that the dust has settled on the opening weekend of Gulf Rugby action, we can reflect on the summer transfers that have taken place between the clubs. Who’s been leaving and who’s been joining?

The Ins and Outs of Gulf Rugby Summer Transfer Window 2019

It’s been a clear win for Dubai Tigers this season as they scooped a total of 14 new signings to boost their club numbers, with the majority of those players coming from the newly merged KnightsEagles rugby club in Dubai. This will no doubt be off the back of the Tigers gaining promotion to Premiership rugby at the end of last season.

Here’s a breakdown of numbers from rugby clubs active in the summer transfer window;

Barrelhouse Rugby ClubBarrelhouse

Transferred In: 1
Transferred Out: 0

Jebel Ali Dragons Rugby ClubDragons

Transferred In: 5
Transferred Out: 1

Dubai Exiles Rugby ClubExiles

Transferred In: 2
Transferred Out: 4

Abu Dhabi Harlequins Rugby ClubHarlequins

Transferred In: 0
Transferred Out: 3

Dubai Hurricanes Rugby ClubHurricanes

Transferred In: 1
Transferred Out: 3


Transferred In: 1
Transferred Out: 16

Abu Dhabi Saracens Rugby ClubSaracens

Transferred In: 3
Transferred Out: 0

Dubai Tigers Rugby ClubTigers

Transferred In: 14
Transferred Out: 0

Full Summer Transfer List

There was a total of twenty seven senior rugby players transferring to new clubs during the summer window. This is a rise from last year’s transfer list which hit twenty five. This summer saw an extended window up until the 31st September In alphabetical order they are listed below:

  1. Emma Ash – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  2. Riaan Barnard – from Hurricanes to Barrelhouse
  3. Briana Billings – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  4. Fadi Diab – from Dragons to Tigers
  5. Jarrod Eglen – from Hurricanes to Exiles
  6. Robyn Etherington – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  7. David Gibson – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  8. Trae Gosling – from KnightsEagles to Dragons
  9. Petillat Gwennael – from Harlequins to Saracens
  10. Oliver Johnson – from KnightsEagles to Dragons
  11. Gareth Jones – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  12. Jason Kettle – from Hurricanes to KnightsEagles
  13. Eliabeth McGowen – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  14. Kau Milanez – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  15. Charlene Moore from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  16. Kini Natuna – from Harlequins to Exiles
  17. Adreanne Normandeau – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  18. Rebecca Octave – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  19. Daniel Owen – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  20. Reuben Potaka – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  21. Allan Short – from KnightsEagles to Hurricanes
  22. Rikus Swart – from Harlequins to Saracens
  23. Edward Venter – from Exiles to Dragons
  24. Gareth Venter – from Exiles to Dragons
  25. Hendrik Venter – from Exiles to Dragons
  26. Johannes Watermayer – from Exiles to Saracens
  27. Nathen Wilson – from KnightsEagles to Tigers

Source: UAERF.

Local Rugby Clubs

Are you looking for a local rugby club to play for? We have a full list, including three of our Premium listed Rugby Clubs: Amblers, Barrelhouse and Saracens.

Niall Lear new era for Harlequins

Niall Lear has Abu Dhabi Harlequins fired up as new era begins with 56-16 win over Jebel Ali Dragons

New Abu Dhabi Harlequins coach Niall Lear got his regime off to a stunning start with a 56-16 triumph over old foes Jebel Ali Dragons as the West Asia Premiership season got under way.

The Scot marvelled at the performance of his side, who ran away with the game in the latter stages, admitting that he feels things can “only get better” as the season goes on.

But Quins weren’t the highest scorers on opening night last Friday as Dubai Hurricanes stormed to a 58-10 triumph over amalgamated outfit Dubai Knights Eagles at The Sevens.

Elsewhere, promoted team Dubai Tigers – two-time champions of the UAE Conference – gave a good account of themselves in a 39-5 defeat to defending champions Bahrain, who began life without Louie Tonkin with victory.

“It was a great evening,” said Lear, who only arrived in July and is the first permanent replacement for Mike McFarlane who departed halfway through last season.

“It was great to see the boys finally in action and putting into practice some of the things we have worked on. If someone had said to me opening day we’d win 56-16 I would have bitten their hand off so as a club we are happy, but need to keep pushing.”

The former Connacht A, Scottish Schools and Scotland Under-18 international added:

“We came out of the blocks pretty quickly and scored three quick tries in the first 20 minutes. As is normally the case when you run into an early lead, we fell away a little bit from there and allowed Dragons back into the game. A combination of us looking for that miracle ball or making uncharacteristic mistakes and some class play from them. The final 20 minutes were really good and as the game opened up a bit we ran away with things.”

“So many positives to take from that kind of performance, the great thing is that it can only get better and that’s the goal for us, consistent improvement.”

“Against some other teams if we played like that we would have been punished and it’s great that the boys identified that.”

Lindsey Gibson Bahrain Rugby Forwards Coach

Bahrain’s forwards coach Lindsay Gibson paid tribute to new boys Tigers following the champions’ victory at Dubai Sports City.

“It was a tough game and a good win for us,” added the Scottish prop, who is assisting head coach Adam Wallace following Tonkin’s return back to the UK to work with Exeter Chiefs.”

“The main objective was to obviously get a bonus point and on the way to hopefully defend our league title.”

“The Tigers boys were outstanding to be fair, I thought they were brilliant. You can tell they’ve got a good base level there and they’re used to winning. They made it a real tough game for us, especially the first 30 minutes.”

Read full article from Sport360.

Aaron Persico hits the ground running 2019Italian oversees difficult opening clash against defending West Asia champions Bahrain

Just as the final whistle was blowing on Italy’s Rugby World Cup loss to South Africa on Friday, one of their celebrated former players was running out on a school playing field in Dubai.

Only 26 players in history have played more Test matches for Italy than the 56 Aaron Persico racked up between 2000 and 2006. His career span included a trip to the 2003 World Cup in Australia. Five years after finishing his professional playing career in Italy, he was back in the ranks of Dubai Tigers, West Asia rugby’s newest top-flight team.

Persico is the Dubai Tigers coach, but filled the breach in the team’s second row as they made their first appearance in the region’s premier cross-border competition. They were handed the toughest start possible, facing the defending West Asia champions Bahrain. Despite the 39-5 defeat, the league new boys showed up well at Dubai College.

The New Zealand-born player-coach played all his international career, which included Test matches at Twickenham, Lansdowne Road, and Stade de France, as a flanker. Playing in the second row against Bahrain RFC was an unusual experience for him, but he was glad of the chance.

“I haven’t played there a lot, but knowing the profile of our team, it was about working out what was best for the team,” said Persico, who played three matches when the Tigers won the UAE Conference last season.

“We had a couple of personnel changes here and there. I had played at lock a little bit here and there, but my main position is flanker. I was happy to get in there. We were pretty happy with patches of the game. It was a step into the unknown for us, and we were playing Bahrain, who have a big reputation. That was exactly what we needed, to play the best, and we can just build upon that. There are things we could have done better, but there were plays that created opportunities, and we can build on that for the rest of the season.”

Earlier on Friday, Dubai Hurricanes got the new domestic season off to a flying start as they beat Dubai Knights Eagles 58-10 at The Sevens.

Saki Naisau scored a hat-trick of tries after being introduced as a second-half substitute, as part of an onslaught that saw the home side score 47 points after the break.

In a repeat of last year’s UAE Premiership final, defending domestic champions Abu Dhabi Harlequins laid down a marker with a 56-16 win away at Jebel Ali Dragons.

Read full article from The National.

Your official guide to Gulf Rugby 2019

Here’s Your Official Guide To Gulf Rugby In 2019/20

As the 2019/20 Gulf Rugby season kicks off, we take a look ahead to whats in store for rugby fans and how all of the regional league competitions are shaping up. This summer has not been without changes though so read on to find out whats new…

west asia champions 2018-19


Holders: Bahrain (West Asia) and Harlequins (UAE)

Format: A straight league set up with all sides playing each other home and away over fourteen rounds. The champions of the West Asia Premiership will be decided between the top two teams after all league rounds are complete. Likewise, the top two UAE based outfits (discarding results against Bahrain) will play on finals day for the right to be crowned UAE Premiership Champions.

Ins and Outs: This season we see Dubai Tigers enter the top tier of Gulf Rugby after a gaining promotion at the end of last season. We see a new team, who recently merged as the KnightsEagles hoping to compete with boosted numbers this year.

Premiership Teams

Bahrain, Dragons, Exiles, Harlequins, Hurricanes, KnightsEagles, Tigers

dubai tigers conference rugby champions 2018/19

Division 1

Holders: Dubai Tigers

Format: First-off, you will see we’ve had a name change. Previously known as the UAE Conference League, the second tier of Gulf Rugby will now be referred to as Division 1. The 2019/20 season will see nine rounds of rugby played and the top four finishing teams after the final round will go into a knockout semi-final playoff to determine who play in on Finals Day 2020.

Ins and Outs: The Sharjah Wanderers are back in the mix after a one year hiatus. As mentioned above, newly merged KnightsEagles will be fielding their 2nd XV to complete the ten Division 1 rugby teams in the UAE.

Division 1 Teams

Amblers, Dragons, Exiles, Harlequins, Hurricanes, KnightsEagles, Saracens, Sharks, Tigers, Wanderers

Dragons UAE Community Champions 2018/19

Division 2

Holders: Jebel Ali Dragons

Format: Again, another name change. You will see what was once the Community League, now referred to as Division 2. The 2019/20 season will also see nine rounds of rugby played but will culminate with the top two teams in the league table going on to Finals Day to see who will be crowned Champions of Division 2.

Ins and Outs: Huge news for Oman Rugby as we welcome Muscat RFC into the third tier of Gulf Rugby. It’s been a longtime coming and we wish them all the best in their inaugural season as they join the social rugby scene. Saracens will be fielding a 2nd XV this season as the benefit from a boost in numbers over the summer.

Division 2 Teams

Amblers, Barrelhouse, Dragons, Harlequins, KnightsEagles, Muscat, Rak, Saracens, Shaheen, Sharks

dubai eagles womens sevens rugby series champions 2018 19

Womens Sevens Series

Holders: Dubai Eagles

Format: The Womens Rugby Sevens Series is the top tier league of ladies rugby in the Emirates with nine rugby clubs participating in the league. There will be eight rounds of rugby hosted by each club throughout the season. The Dubai Tigers and Firebirds rugby clubs will host a joint round.

Womens Teams

Amblers, Firebirds, Hurricanes, Harlequins, KnightsEagles, Rak, Saracens, Tigers, Wanderers

Dubai Repton School rugby tour - 2019

Repton, a prominent international school in the heart of Dubai, which recently celebrated its tenth birthday, have just finished their first ever rugby tour to Scotland in the United Kingdom. The youngsters based themselves out of Merchiston Castle school, being subjected to a multitude of training camps, team talks, fitness sessions and team building exercises throughout their stay in the 100 acre grounds, located on the edge of Colinton, a picturesque riverside village just four miles south west of the countries capital – Edinburgh, a city centre that sits in the shadow of the Pentland Hills.

Many of the Repton School touring party embarked on a rugby journey that they had never been on before. Head of Rugby, Joshua Ives summed up their journey, saying;

“The pupils dug deeper than they have ever had to before and created a rugby community of encouragement, enthusiasm and passion. There were, at times, some testing pupils on the rugby tour, but this tour certainly developed and taught them some understanding of respect and self-control, which we all know are key values to rugby. The lads who could have surrendered became leaders, those who hid away became vocal and the experienced rugby players guided and adopted others to create strong bonds within the group.”

During their time in the capital, the players were lucky enough to visit Murrayfield Stadium, the home of rugby side Edinburgh RFC, and Glasgow Warriors which both compete in the Pro 14 competition featuring teams from Scotland, Ireland, Italy, South Africa and Wales.

Other notable highlights of the tour saw the Dubai based youth rugby team beating Glasgow High School at Under 12 and Under 14 age groups and also spend time away from sport for an ascent up Arthurs Seat, an extinct volcano which is considered the main peak of the group of hills in Edinburgh.

Repton school rugby - Josh Ives Head Coach

Coach Ives added;

“The tour may be over for the Repton boys, but the season is only just beginning. It’s imperative that they now push on to continue the journey they have started and play and train with passion this season.”

Ives, who was recently unveiled as the new head coach of the Dubai Knights Eagles, ahead of the rugby clubs first official game of the season in the West Asia Premiership which kicks off on Friday, October 4th 2019.

You can read more information about finding a rugby club in Dubai, or catch up with the latest rugby fixtures and results from around the Gulf.