UAE Expat Rugby News

UAE Rugby Federation has announced that its Elite Player Programme (EPP) will commence in January 1st 2017. The EPP is a long-term strategy aimed at identifying, increasing and developing future National representative Emirati players with it’s primary focus on the development of 25 talented U18 Emirati players every calendar year.

UAE Rugby Secretary General, Qais Al Dhalai said;

It is a necessity that these players show strong potential, in skills and mental aptitude, to progress to a higher level, with the ultimate aim being UAE National Team representation on the international stage.”

UAE Rugby’s Head Coach and High Performance Manager – Apollo Perelini, said;

In the first year our focus will be the Senior Elite U18’s, year 2 we will widen our reach to Junior Elite U16, and year 3 we will bring in a Junior U14 category.”

Perelini went on to say;

These 3 levels of development will give us a stronger platform to identify and develop our Elite players and provide us with a sustainable future for Emirati players.”

During each year, each group will participate in numerous training camps and focus on age-specific skills and fitness.

The U18’s will be exposed to game and training analysis, skills and game management and position specifics. U16’s will be exposed to the basic aspects of the UAE rugby union, including game awareness, and the U14’s will be exposed to basic fundamental skills of rugby.

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uae conference rugby round up Tom Davies

After a quiet few months off, the UAE conference tournament is back for what looks to be an exciting season of rugby. The opening weekend saw some great matches take place across the UAE.

Defending champions Sharjah Wanderers began their campaign with a comfortable 34-7 win over the Dubai Sharks, showing their intent for back-to-back Conference triumphs.

The Arabian Knights lost a hard fought battle with the Wasps 15-29. The Knights seemed to win the battle of the forwards for the majority of the match but in the end discipline let them down and the Wasps made them pay for their mistakes.

The Dragons 2nd XV cruised to an impressive 58-3 win over the Al Ain Amblers 2nd XV, announcing that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with this season.

The final match saw the Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2nd XV go head to head with the Dubai Exiles 2nd XV. With both sides having finished in the top half of the table last season neither team wanted to drop points on the opening weekend. The result went the way of the Exiles who ran away with it to win 41-5.

A look ahead to this weekends UAE Rugby

The action continues this weekend coming with round 2 of the UAE Conference taking place, the pick of the matches is the Hurricanes 2nd XV taking on the Dragons 2nd XV, both teams have ambitions to finish in the top half of the table and the Dragons will definitely want to continue the great start they have made to the season.

Thats not all thats taking place this weekend with the beginning of both the UAE Premiership and Community League. The Premiership sees The Amblers entertaining the Abu Dhabi Saracens and the Dubai Hurricanes taking on the Abu Dhabi Harlequins. The match to watch in the Community League has the be the Beaver Nomads against the Sharks 2nd XV, the Nomads will be looking to defend their title this season and will hope to start it off with a win.

By Tom Davies

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Bahrain RFC took on local side Dubai Sharks in a pre-season friendly last Friday night giving the Sharks game time to prepare for the upcoming 2016/17 UAE Conference rugby season, which kicks off on the 23rd of September.

Bahrain celebrated their 65 – 0 victory over the Sharks with this team photo after the match;

Bahrain Rugby Club celebrate win against the Dubai Sharks

Photo credit: @bahrainrugby

Emirates Airline Renews Sponsorship of UAE Rugby Federation

Emirates Airlines, the exclusive sponsor of the UAE Rugby Federation and sponsor of the Men’s, Women’s and Under 20’s National 7’s and 15’s teams have renewed their commitment to Dubai Rugby for another five years.

Dubai Rugby UAE

Reinforcing its commitment to rugby in the UAE, Emirates Airline has renewed its sponsorship agreement with the UAE Rugby Federation (UAERF).

Through the agreement Emirates will continue as the Federation’s Exclusive / Official Airline sponsor and sponsor of the Men’s, Women’s and Under 20’s National 7’s and 15’s teams.

The agreement will span five years and will see the Emirates logo proudly displayed on players’ shirts across the respective leagues.

We are very proud to have the commitment from Emirates for another five year term

Qais Al Dhalai, Secretary General UAE Rugby said “Our National Teams are ambassadors of UAE rugby on the international stage and we are acutely aware of the abilities needed by our representative teams to compete at this higher level.” “We are very proud to have the commitment from Emirates for another five year term, which will assist us in our goal of bettering our standing in Asia Rugby rankings, and to bring to UAE residents the enjoyment of watching more competitive games”.

Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President Commercial Operations, Centre commented: “Emirates boasts a rich rugby heritage with our extensive portfolio of top-class rugby sponsorships, and we strive to reflect the core values of the game and enrich the experiences of rugby fans in the UAE and across the globe. Emirates has been the Official Airline of the UAE Rugby Federation since 2011 and we are proud to see the Men’s XV’s advancing to the Asia Rugby Championship divisions and potentially qualifying for the upcoming 2019 Rugby World Cup, of which Emirates is also a sponsor.”

UAE Rugby Emirates Airline Men’s XV team recently competed in and won Asia Rugby’s Asia Rugby Championship (ARC) Division 2, which sees the team promoted to Division 1 as well as be eligible to compete in the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifying rounds.

Emirates boasts a rich rugby heritage with its extensive portfolio of top-class rugby sponsorships, and the airline strives to reflect the core values of the game and enrich the experiences of rugby fans in the UAE and across the globe. Emirates has been the Official Airline of the UAE Rugby Federation since 2011.

The airline has also been the Title Sponsor of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens for over 20 years and the vibrant tournament has firmly established itself as one of the best on the HSBC Sevens World Series circuit.

While remaining extremely popular with the UAE western expatriate community, rugby has made impressive gains in promoting the game to the Emirati population, evident with the Federation’s recent inaugural Community League and the historic fielding of the first all-Emirati XV’s side.

Speaking on the development of Emiratis into the XV’s format Al Dhalai commented “It is one of our (the Federation) strategic goals to have an all-Emirati UAE National test side by 2021. Emirates renewed sponsorship will assist us with realising this goal”.

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DSSC set to launch their tailored coaching programme for local Dubai rugby clubs

Desert Sport Strength & Conditioning (DSSC) are proud to launch their rugby strength & conditioning (S&C) programme across Dubai, delivering tailored coaching for local rugby clubs throughout the sporting year.

DSSC rugby training Dubai UAEDSSC is a unique concept brought to Dubai sport by a team of highly experienced, professional and passionate coaches, accomplished in sport, fitness & health and S&C. An opportunity has been recognised to support sport in Dubai, developing rugby teams with programming designed to maximise performance on the competitive field and avoid injury, something that has been prevalent during the 2015/16 season. DSSC is leading the industry as the only standalone institute to deliver a complete, holistic package of both S&C and health for players and teams.

DSSC’s Rugby Pre-Season Programme, commencing in the next few weeks (dates TBC), will be the first of it’s kind here in Dubai. Based at Smart Fitness, an award-winning facility in JLT, both players and teams will be invited down to undergo a 9-week programme across the summer months, tapering down to the start of the 2016/17 season. The main structure is briefly outlined below –

  • 3 training blocks – Strength, Hypertrophy, Plyometrics & Athletic Ability.
  • Initial, mid & final testing to show clear progression.
  • 27 sessions over 9 weeks on a 1:4 athlete:coach ratio, delivered by international standard coaches.
  • Nutritional coaching on how to maximise both body composition and performance on the field, with consistent support to ensure dietary adherence.
  • Educational support with articles & content shared among the group.
  • Exciting extras, such as seminars with international rugby stars, coach visits and team trips.

DSSC coaches come from a rich background of both playing rugby and careers in strength & fitness, so their ability to recognise the strategies that will maximise performance and have the ability to apply them as a team, is what makes the coaching unique. The coaches include:

Mike Poole – Try scoring record holder for Newport, with playing careers in Newport Gwent Dragons, Scarlets and the Welsh International 7s team.

Roan Kotze – Played professional rugby in South Africa before relocating to the Middle East to pursue a career in fitness & coaching.

Jarred Lowson – Experienced 7s & 15s player in South Africa, Kenya & Dubai, DeFranco Certified Physical Preparation Specialist (CPPS) and Personal Trainer of the Year 2015.

Max Physick – Experienced 15s player in the UK & Dubai, specialising in S&C, advanced body composition and hypertrophy strategies.

With the launch of the DSSC Pre-Season Programme just around the corner, the coaches are excited to get local players on board and start developing their strength, speed, power and conditioning!

For more information and to get on board, please contact:

Max Morrison – DSSC Business Manager
040 438 5055

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Dubai Duty Free will continue as the official sponsor of the UAE Rugby Referees and all Match Officials through to the 2017/2018 UAE Rugby season. This support enables the UAE Rugby Referees to strengthen their standing as leaders within Asia Rugby through regional referee development and exchange programme.

Renewed support of UAE Rugby Referees

Dubai Duty Free, the world’s leading single airport retailer, has renewed its support of the UAE Rugby’s Referees Society for a further three-years through to, and including, the 2017/2018 season. The agreement names Dubai Duty Free as the Federation’s Official Sponsor of UAE Rugby Referees and Match Officials.

As well as prominent positioning on the referees kit and working on UAE-based referee development, an important aspect of the sponsorship allows the UAE Rugby Referees Society to invest and position themselves as a training and development leader within Asia Rugby.

An integral referee development programme is the Referee Development Weekend that took place earlier this year on January 21 through 23, in the UAE, where nine referees from neighbouring unions; Nepal, Sri Lanka, Jordan, Malaysia, China (2), India (2) and Uzbekistan, were hosted and where a core team of UAE Referees, consisting of Clare Shryane, Clare Daniels, Steve Leyshon and Stan Wright facilitated a three-day development programme on the fundamentals of rugby, assistant and tournament refereeing, fitness, working within a team and managing advice and input. Each of these components are designed to grow the referee/match official to being more effective and efficient at Union level while focusing on and working toward representation at international level, such as the World Rugby sanctioned Dubai Rugby 7’s tournament.

“Dubai Duty Free’s commitment to, and relationships with numerous local and international sporting events, and governing bodies is widely recognised” stated Colm McLoughlin Executive Vice Chairman, Dubai Duty Free. “We continue to be encouraged by the steps the Federation and the Referees Society take to develop, and instil best practices in those individuals who officiate over the game at a local, regional and international level.”

“The Board are very proud of the commitment to the game and compliment our UAE Rugby Referees for their initiatives and leadership. UAE Rugby was very pleased with the attendance from our neighbouring unions at our recent programme, and it was shared that the facilitators saw quantifiable development, which will only benefit the way the game is overseen and played across Asia’s unions. We sincerely thank Dubai Duty Free for their ongoing support of our efforts in managing and officiating the game of rugby here and abroad” said UAE Rugby Secretary General Qais Al Dhalai.

Dubai Duty Free’s support will see UAE Rugby’s Referees and Match Officials continue their development through attendance at regular IRB accredited workshops and courses, develop skills through officiating over West Asia Cross Borders rugby, as well as participate in and facilitate referee exchanges and development programmes. The Dubai Duty Free logo will have prominent positioning on the Referees and March Officials kit.

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UAE Rugby Federation’s Regional Development Officer, Ben van Rooyen has been appointed Asia Rugby’s ‘Get into Rugby Coordinator’ on a six-month secondment commencing May 1st, 2016.

Van Rooyen’s primary task will be to oversee the implementation of World Rugby’s Get into Rugby (GiR) programme among Asia Rugby union members, working closely with these unions to ensure their GiR action plans are in place and conform to World Rugby guidelines.

He will also oversee the integration of World Rugby’s ‘Impact Beyond’ programme which focuses on activating rugby-influenced activities in the lead-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, to be hosted in Japan.

Introducing rugby to one million new players across the continent

A highly successful programme across the globe, World Rugby’s Get into Rugby has been embraced by the UAERF since the federation’s inception (in 2011) and found the programme to be a valuable tool to grow the game in local communities that required established structures and pathways to grow the game.

Speaking on his new role van Rooyen said:

“It is indeed an honour to serve the greater Asia Rugby community through this role. I see a bright future for rugby in Asia and I am looking forward to working with the various unions (around Asia) to realise the dream of ‘introducing rugby to one million new players across the continent’. Our successes at UAERF have prepared me for this opportunity, and I can only express my deepest appreciation for the visionary leadership and support I have received from the Board and all the members of the UAERF team.”

Asia Rugby Honorary Secretary General and UAE Rugby Secretary General, Qais Al Dhalai commented:

“We are very proud Ben has been recognised for his impact on growing the game at local grass roots level, and subsequently selected by Asia Rugby to take on this important role of introducing the game across Asia. All at the UAERF wish to thank Ben for his untiring, successful efforts in delivering the GiR programme and his commitment to our Player Pathway Programme. We wish Ben the very best and will be watching the progress of Get into Rugby across Asia with great interest.”

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On Friday 26th February, 2016, the Dubai Sharks Rugby Club made history by fielding four competitive teams on the same day down at the Dubai Sports City ground.

Sharks 2nd XV vs Sharks 3rd XV

One unique game was between the Sharks 2nd XV and 3rd XV playing in the UAE Community League competition. This was the first time that any Dubai Sharks teams had faced each other in a competitive 15-a-side game.

The match itself was an extremely competitive game, with the 2nd’s using their younger players to great effect, running out 38 – 7 victors. The score line didn’t reflect the game as the first half was a tight fought contest with the Sharks 3rd XV scoring the first points of the game with a penalty try and keeping the 2nd XV deep in their half for most of the first 30 minutes. With fitness and youth on their site, and after a strong half time team talk, the 2nds returned to the field to display some great running rugby and scoring 4 tries within 15 minutes. Pictures of the game are available here.

Womens Rugby

Another chapter written in the clubs history saw the first Sharks Ladies 15-a-side team take to the field, made up of Sharks and Hurricanes players. They played against a mixed Sharjah/Tigers side, with the Shark/Hurricanes ladies dominating the game, running out 36-17 winners.

1st XV Rugby

The Dubai Sharks 1st XV are chasing for a place in the UAE Conference League Plate Final. With two games played, losing the first game in hard fought battle against the Heartbeat Tigers, then winning a tough battle against their neighbours, the Arabian Knights.

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West Asia Championship Top 9 rugby teams continue with rugby matches in Doha, Muscat, Abu Dhabi and Dubai

The Emirates Rugby and West Asia Rugby “West Asia Championship” 5th round will be played this Friday, Feb 12th, with matches scheduled across the Gulf; in Doha and Muscat, as well as Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the UAE.

Current West Asia leaders Doha will play Bahrain in Doha at 15:00, Abu Dhabi Harlequins face Dubai Hurricanes in Abu Dhabi at 17:00, Abu Dhabi Saracens travel to Dubai’s Sevens ground to play Dubai Exiles at 17:00 and Muscat will host Al Ain Amblers at 17:00. All games are their respective local time.

Additional to this weekend’s West Asia Championship games, the UAE Rugby Conference and UAE Community League games continue.

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Youth sports will take centre stage this April at the inaugural UAE Teen Sports & Fitness Awards

The ceremony will be held at Arabian Ranches Golf Club on Friday, April 22, which are dedicated to youth aged between 13 and 19 as of September 1, 2015.

Celebrating the excellent achievements of youngsters in the UAE as well as the dedication of all those coaches and parents who support them.

The awards are open to all residents of the UAE and entries and are encouraged from schools, sports clubs, academies and teams as well as facilities, and the wider sports and fitness industry in the UAE.

There will be 17 main categories of awards, which will be divided into different sporting disciplines. There are specific categories for UAE nationals, clubs and schools as well as the wider community.

Overall Categories are as follows;

  • Best Sports School
  • Best Emirati Sports School
  • Fittest School
  • Best Academy/Club/Association
  • Best Emirati Academy/Club/Association
  • Best Team
  • Best Emirati Team
  • Best Sporting/Fitness Event
  • Best Training Facility/Centre
  • Best Sponsorship/Marketing Campaign

Age Group Categories are as follows;

  • Fittest Teen
  • Best Coach/Manager
  • Best Emirati Coach/Manager
  • Outstanding Athlete Achievement
  • Outstanding Emirati Athlete Achievement
  • Sports Personality Of the Year
  • Emirati Sports Personality Of the Year

Entries for youth athletes, managers, coaches and teams will be divided into the following age groups: U14, U16, U19.

Judging and criteria

  • Each entry will be judged by a knowledgeable and recognised panel of experts.
  • The votes will be audited by professionals.
  • Entries for submissions are open from January 15, 2016 and close on March 20, 2016.
  • The shortlisted finalists will be revealed a month prior to the awards.

The full list of categories and criteria is listed at

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YallaRugby had the honour of being invited to the a televised press conference held in The Ramada Hotel, in the presence of The UAE Rugby Secretary General – Qais Al Dhalai and Rashid Amiri, the Director General of Dubai Sports Channel with the following exciting news for that all UAE rugby fans will want to hear.

Weekly Broadcast

It’s time to dust off those combs and bring your A-Game to the rugby pitch as the
UAE Rugby Federation (UAERF) and Dubai Sports Channel (DSC) have finalised a two-year agreement that will see a UAE Rugby Show produced and broadcast weekly, during the UAE Rugby season, on Dubai Media Incorporated’s Dubai Sports Channel.

Scheduled for its first airing in February, the 30-minute show will offer highlights from the previous 2-weeks UAE Rugby Premiership, Conference and Community leagues, as well as regular spots focusing on Emirates Airline National Team performances, Emirati development (Dubai Airports Shaheen, and UAE Rugby’s Player Pathway Programme – co principal partners HSBC and Land Rover), a UAE-based club and player focus, referees updates, UAERF sponsor showcase, as well as other UAE Rugby related features.

This is another exciting first for UAE Rugby. We are thrilled to partner with Dubai Sports and bring to life the UAE Rugby Show where all expatriate and Emirati elements of the sport will be showcased” said Qais Al Dhalai, UAE Rugby’s Secretary General.

Our rugby community, from both the expatriate and the Emirati, is rich in interesting stories and we are exceptionally happy to have quality resources in which to create informative features. We are confident that the weekly show will be well received and supported by all and become an integral part of the wider UAE Rugby community’s week”. “We look forward to developing the show as we move through this season, and into the next” he added.

Rashid Amiri, Director General of Dubai Sports Channel commented, “Our team at Dubai Sports Channel is committed to producing a quality, interesting show that will connect local and expatriate viewers with relevant rugby content (and) will boost the efforts and profile of UAE Rugby across our platform. Also, we strongly believe the UAE Rugby show will provide Dubai Sports Channel with a landmark local-sports show to bolster our existing sports portfolio.

The UAE Rugby Show will be broadcast in English and will offer Arabic subtitles, with it’s first airing on February the 1st 2016.

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We kick off 2016 with the West Asia Championship this Friday, January 8th, with 3 thrilling encounters to be played in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Friday’s first game will see Al Ain Amblers play Doha at Al Ain Amblers home ground at 3pm, in the second game Dubai Exiles take on Muscat at Dubai’s Sevens Stadium at 3.30pm, and the final game of the day will see the Abu Dhabi Saracens against Bahrain at the Al Ghazal ground – 5pm.

The West Asia Championship consists of the top 9 teams from across the GCC and will be played through to mid-March 2016. The top 9 teams, competing in the championship are; Al Ain Amblers, Abu Dhabi Harlequins, Abu Dhabi Saracens, Dubai Exiles, Dubai Hurricanes, Jebel Ali Dragons, Doha, Bahrain and Muscat.

UAE Rugby’s Conference and Community leagues re-start next weekend, Friday January 15th.

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Land Rover joins HSBC as co-Principal Partner of UAE Rugby’s Emirati grass roots Player Pathway Programme

Launched in 2012 the Player Pathway Programme brings the game of rugby to over 6,800 Emirati children across 30 National schools

UAE Rugby’s Player Pathway Programme is set for an exciting 2016 with HSBC announcing they are to renew their support for a further 3 years, while Land Rover is unveiled as the programme’s co-principal partner (in a multi-year agreement). Today’s unveiling signals a continuation of support from HSBC and the addition of Land Rover to bolster UAE Rugby’s unique all-Emirati grass-roots rugby development programme.

Launched in 2012 the UAE Rugby Player Pathway Programme (PPP) has enjoyed three successful years of bringing the game of rugby (following the World Rugby’s ‘Get into Rugby’ programme), overseen by three regional development officers, to over 30 National schools reaching over 6,800 Emirati children across Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Dubai. Through the support of Land Rover and HSBC, UAE Rugby now have the opportunity to continue growing the programme in these Emirates while expanding into Northern Emirates where there is a significant opportunity for growth.

Qais Al Dhalai, Secretary General UAE Rugby said, ”We are very grateful to HSBC for the support and commitment they have shown for the past three years and, collectively, we have been rewarded through the efforts of the programme by seeing a number of PPP players progress to the next development level – the Shaheen (an all-Emirati 7’s) Development Programme – and we are thrilled HSBC have renewed for another three-year term. We are extremely excited that Land Rover have chosen to align with UAE Rugby’s Emirati grass roots programme, as their combined support with HSBC allows us to grow the programme in existing Emirates and take the programme into the Northern Emirates and work toward our 2017 goal of 9,000 Emirati children actively playing rugby at school level, and subsequently increase the number of Emirati players moving through our development levels. I’m also very thankful to the Ministry of Education who has supported the PPP over the last three years and is committed to further enhance the programme with additional accesses to new variety of state schools for boys and girls across the UAE.“ added Al Dhalai.

Land Rover has been at the heart of rugby, from the grassroots to the elite, for over two decades. We share the same passion, resolve and integrity that sits within the core of the game.

Commenting on Land Rover’s partnership with UAE Rugby, Chris Wilde, Brand Director for Jaguar Land Rover MENA said: “Land Rover has been at the heart of rugby, from the grassroots to the elite, for over two decades. We share the same passion, resolve and integrity that sits within the core of the game.”

He continued: “Our support of rugby in the region, with the Dubai Rugby 7s will now be further enhanced through our partnership with the UAE Rugby Federation. We are incredibly proud of our local involvement in this magnificent sport and our goal of supporting the growth of the game at grassroots, particularly among the Emirati population, by enhancing the enormous pride in this wonderful nation through our MYLAND initiative.”

David Kotheimer, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer of HSBC Bank Middle East Limited, UAE said: “This is a game-changing opportunity for aspiring young players in the UAE and as a global banking and financial services organisation, we pride ourselves on opening up a world of opportunities for people. Through our sponsorships like the UAE Rugby’s Player Pathway Programme, we also create a positive legacy by investing in youth development and grassroots programmes.”

“Rugby’s most important season is kicking-off this weekend in Dubai with the world’s top men’s and women’s players taking centre stage in the opening round of the new-look HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series; this is the perfect moment to show our commitment to the long term future of the local game.”

Supporting the in-school programme, the UAE Rugby Player Pathway Programme conducts up to ten annual PPP rugby festivals, with the highlight being the National Schools tournament with eight Emirati schools competing, which is played on the Saturday of the annual Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby 7’s.

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Syria & Jordan prepare for Dubai 7’s 2015

With a combined playing number of 135, Jordan Rugby and Syria Rugby have put forward their strongest teams to challenge Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby 7’s Gulf Men’s Open title.

Syria Rugby

Syria Rugby

Syria’s Damascus Zenobians, who tasted success in 2011’s Rugby 7’s claiming the plate, have beyond just a trophy to play for. In 2012 the union had over 80 players in their XV’s and 7’s roster, today that number is 35. The Zenobians will be intent on putting forward a performance that will build pride in the game amongst their countrymen.

Syrian High Rugby Committee’s spokesperson commented; ‘Syrian Rugby believes that Rugby will oversee Syrian sports and return in strong form for the Syrian people to support and own. We believe we can grow our Syrian’s interest in the game, regionally and internationally, as Syria is a very good geographic location between Europe, North Africa, and Asia.”

Jordan Rugby

Jordan Rugby

Jordan is enjoying solid growth in both the XV’s and 7’s format and can now count on over 100 players. Jordan’s domestic calendar boasts three leagues and the club with the most points, at the end of the season, wins the series. Their most recent 7’s series was exceptionally competitive where the top 3 clubs where separated by a mere 5 points. Winners of their recent 7’s series, Nomad’s, will be looking to capitalise on this recent form and bring a few surprises to the Gulf Men’s Open. Jordan’s 2 teams, Nomads Rugby Club and Citadel Rugby Football Club, will also be aiming to influence and inspire their future players through this weekend’s performance.

Both unions continue to focus on providing the needed support to grow the game.

“Jordan’s Rugby Committee is working hard to develop Rugby across the Kingdom. We are working on developing the clubs starting with our youth. We have implemented World Rugby’s ‘Get Into Rugby’ programme in 10 schools (during 2015) and we currently see more than 500 players in the U18 category, our plan is to increase that number by 50% in 2016.” claim Jordan Rugby.

Syrian High Rugby Committee was encouraged by being granted access to one of the best fields in Damascus, which is used for Syrian National teams (in Damascus).
The future definitely looks bright for Syrian Rugby, as they develop their talent further after receiving support from Asia Rugby to conduct various coaching courses in the early part of December 2015. “Additionally, we have recently confirmed our participation in the Asia Rugby Development 7’s tournament series, being played in Chennai and Al Ain in 2016.”

Asia Rugby West’s Rugby Development Consultant, Ghaith Jalajel said; “It is very pleasing to see an increase in number of teams representing West Asia countries in the Dubai 7’s. I know Jordan Rugby have enjoyed a very strong Domestic 7’s season, which encouraged players to play more rugby and now we have 2 teams representing Jordan, one team (Citadel Rugby Football Club) is made off all Jordanian players. There is a 3rd team representing Jordan in the Gulf Vets.

Syria is the latest Asia Rugby members, and to me having a team from Syria represent everything rugby is all about. The will of the players to play and enjoy Rugby beats all difficulties they probably face in their country. We are taking this opportunity of having them in UAE to run training and education activities. We (Asia Rugby) held a Level 1 Coaching 15’s Course for them yesterday and we are planning a Level 1 Strength and Conditioning course on Sunday 6th (December) before they travel back to Damascus.

I wish all involved the best of luck in the tournament and I am looking forward to working with them to further develop rugby in West Asia.” added Jalajel.

Gulf Men’s Open games kick off 11:00am Thursday on pitch 2. Click here for the full Gulf Men’s Open schedule

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The article below is an account of the latest Bali 10’s tour by one of the Arabian Potbelly Rugby Players in Dubai by PB Quasimodo

Bali 10s – Day One

Entered into the Bali 10’s Vets Cup, were a group of Potbelly Veterans, in a futile attempt to recapture their better days, set out for the magical island, in search of sun, sea and avoiding any need for additional hip replacements.

As with all Potbellies Tours, events started with a charitable endeavour, visiting a coffee plantation and the local community, on the northern volcanic territory. Much was learnt, sports kit was donated and super charged civet coffee was appreciated by the weary travellers, who had assembled from the four corners.

Bali 10s – Day Two

Our first warm up session, a bout of beach rugby, against a local mob of super charged, steroid popping, super human, U15 teenagers team — The Canggu Dogs / Bali Heat… Or at least that’s our excuse for getting our arses handed to us on the fine shores of Canggu Beach. A few of the touring party contemplated swimming off home. There was also a fitness warning shot fired across the bows very early on, where PB Quasimodo said he needed a “rest” after 42 seconds of play against the Dogs, which worried a few. Fortunately the arrival of local chilled Bingtangs ensured the Potbellies regrouped, re-energised, and provided a sublime lesson in rugby’s finer skills to the local rabble by basically forgetting the “touch” bit of the ‘Touch Rugby”. The only problem then appeared to be PB 30 Seconds, the focal point of our lineout effort, had obviously been at the donuts in preparation and solidarity for our upcoming game against the Malaysian Police Force. This in turn meant that he weighed marginally more than the Death Star to lift. So, The lineout wasn’t looking good, although your correspondent is pleased to record that our full-on 5 man, 480Kg scrum destroyed the 170Kg, 3 man effort of the U15s. In that sense at least, it was like men against boys. So the scrum was obviously looking good.

Bali 10s – Day Three

We recovered and nursed injuries.

Bali 10s – Day Four

The Bali 10s Tournament kicks off. We had a mid-morning fixture against the Jakarta Dinos an outfit, most of whom looked surprisingly youthful for a Vets squad. After initially putting intense pressure on their line, they scored a breakaway try, a lead which was consolidated a few minutes later—probably after a lineout I imagine, where we had now resorted to using cranes and car jacks to lift PB 30 Seconds. … However, we were still competitive (line-outs aside), and after yet another break from PB George Michael, PB Invisible scored our only try of the game, a straight 12 minutes of combative 10 aside, to leave us losing the game 15 points to 5… not bad considering we were playing a bunch of 24 year old gym-junkies.

Our second game, against a mining outfit from Aus / Indo , was more evenly matched, because at least they had read the rules on the “age policy for vets”. They did however have one player who was a 270Kg, 6’9″ tall miner and had obviously done time for GBH. PB Quasimodo, whilst on the burst, chose to run directly into said miner to discover what happened when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. Lets just say everyone in the ground winced and the crash was heard in Perth. It was also in this game we first displayed the unique art of try line fever, although our lineout still wasn’t working. To be fair though, it wasn’t just PB 30 Seconds who was having a dodgy time at the lineout by now. In an often forgotten and overlooked move, PB Invisible interpreted the line out call to be “Fire the ball at top speed into the ample crack of PB Quasimodo’s arse” as opposed to the more traditional throw to the jumper (Darth again), who by some loophole in the laws of physics this time we had actually managed to lift. Ironically our try in the second game came from one of their lineouts, where PB Lord Lucan stole the ball off the GBH miner, who was subsequently flattened by PB Slip Slap Slop doing his Exocet missile impersonation, before PB George Michael’s and the back line’s wizardry created space for us to score via the wing in the far corner. Losing the game 10-5 was no shame in the end.

With no more Vets fixtures for the day some of the squad, we shall refer to them as the deluded dementia sufferers, ran out for the Barbarians in the Open Cup. Limbs were lost in a bruising encounter against an efficient Perth outfit.

In the evening we licked our wounds over a 15 course gastronomic, four hour, marathon pig-sty-athon, which endangered the viewing of Wales defeating Australia. (Editor Note: The bloody Wallabies won, ya Taffy Buffoon!)

Bali 10s – Day Five

Day five saw a very early start against Malaysia’s finest. The Police rugby squad. Many a Piggy trembled. Would the Officers identify them from Interpol’s latest Wanted Persons list? Caught by a sucker punch try almost directly from the kick off, while most of the piggies were still wiping the sleep from their eyes and really desperately hoping for the caffeine / brufen / paracetamol / an emergency shot of vodka to kick in. From the restart though you could see the effects of the various stimulants working, and the subsequent panic slowly starting to appear in the eyes of the opponents. like they’d been caught beating a confession out of a backpacker or something. PB 50 Shades continued his excellent half back work with PB George Michael, but this time choosing to showcase his brilliant banana kick from fly half, at one point managing to put the whole of our team offside, causing uncertainty in the Police ranks, who just threw the ball out for a lineout to us rather than score. The line out calls were now “Seriously, don’t worry about it. Just F* throw it in PB MMA”. Using such a tactic, it looked like we were disorganised, further disorientating and panicking our opposition. Finally, having camped on their line for a full 8 minutes, in a staggering example of white line fever / forward-play bloody mindedness, by ignoring both our full 5 man overlap and the roars of “pass it out FFS” from the unknowledgeable onlooking crowd (for fully 3 minutes), we finally bulldozed over for the equalising score with the last move of the game, proving, again, that piggy brawn is indeed sometimes better than brain. We can happily report, the game ended in a 5-5 draw, with no arrests and just a couple bruised ribs.

With a five hour wait till our next game (!!!) several Potbellies were spotted surfing the waves off Jimbaran Beach, whilst others ran out for the Barbarians squad, picking up additional bruises as their only reward.

Due to what can only be described as ‘Potbellies fear’ the next scheduled opposition withdrew from the second game, leaving us with a tasty rematch against our law enforcement friends. Not wanting to chance their luck a few of the Potbellies retreated to the sty, watching from afar, as the game kicked off. The intervening hours had been fortuitous for the Police squad, with their ranks swelling (pun intended) of recently graduated Police Academy recruits, adding speed to their back line. After the kick off the “reinforced” police raced out to a 2 try lead, until showing our versatility of team thought, this time we decided to use our two man overlap allowing PB MMA to not only score in the corner but also flatten the policeman who’d thumped him late after the score for his trouble. They’d have yellow carded the policeman, but as he was lying on the ground whimpering “Has he gone yet?” the referee and linesman decided that would only be adding insult to injury to the poor policeman. The score however proved not quite to be enough. Police 10 – Piggies 5, I think that was the final score. But don’t quote me on that, Officer…

The tour wrapped up in the evening by the partaking of many local ales, enjoying Irelands crushing defeat of the French Frogs.

Bali, we love you. Till next time,

PB Quasimodo

bali 10s festival 2015

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UAE Rugby Dubai Eden Park Sevens (7’s) Series

The UAE Rugby Federation (UAERF) has announced the dates for this years UAE Rugby Dubai Eden Park Sevens (7’s) Series. The popular tournament will spread over two Fridays; the first round on November 20th at the Dubai Sharks home ground at Dubai Sports, with the final round being played at Al Ain Amblers Rugby Club (Al Ain) on Friday November 27th.

“UAERF is very proud to bring the UAE Rugby Eden Park 7’s two-day tournament to the UAE rugby community for a fourth year, and we are delighted this tournament has become a firm fixture on the domestic calendar. This time of the year sees the rugby mindset shift sharply from the XV’s to the 7’s format and, with most UAE clubs participating in the Gulf Men’s Open division of the highly-popular Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby 7’s, we are pleased to provide a strong platform for our clubs to prepare.” said Qais Al Dhalai, UAE Rugby Federation’s Secretary General. “We expect to see quality 7’s rugby played and wish all clubs an enjoyable two-day tournament.”

Franck Mesnel, founder of Eden Park commented, “Eden Park, and I, are proud of our long standing relationship with the UAE Rugby Federation. We are encouraged by the development of rugby in the GCC region and the commitment shown by the UAERF to transmit the values of the game across a wide spectrum of nationalities and level of skill. We are very pleased to see the Eden Park 7’s series become a popular, permanent fixture in the calendar, and we hope it will continue to contribute to the development of 7’s in the country, both for expatriates and UAE Nationals alike.”

After the Shaheen’s performance at the recent Dubai Airports International Sevens Tournament, Apollo Perelini (Shaheen’s 7’s and XV’s Coach) believes his team will be in a good position to capitalise on the experience and put forward another quality performance at the Eden Park 7’s. “We’ve seen reasonable progress with the local Emirati players over the past few months. And by being exposed to another high-level 7’s tournament, and participating in the Eden Park 7’s, I am confident these players will develop a stronger belief in their skills and gain more trust in their abilities. We’ll be fielding 2 (all-Emirati) Shaheen teams and the aim at series end will be to select a strong Emirati side to contest the Gulf Men’s Open division at the Dubai Rugby 7’s.” “I’m looking forward to seeing how both Shaheen sides perform at the (Eden Park 7’s) tournament.”

Alongside the action on the pitch, both Dubai Sports City and the Al Ain Rugby Club will host various fun, interactive competitions which will be open to all members of the family and where some fantastic Eden Park prizes can be won. Extensive food and beverage offerings will also be available adding to what will be two enjoyable days out. “We encourage, and look forward to all rugby supporters joining us for what will be 2 great days of domestic 7’s rugby” added Mohamed Shaker, UAERF Board Member.

Both days’ fixtures are expected to start mid-morning and spectator entry to each tournament is free.

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We interview Baptiste Liagre, a new member of the Dubai Sharks Rugby Club.

YR. Which rugby team do you play for?
BL. I play for the Dubai Sharks RFC.

YR. What position do you play?
BL. I’m currently playing loose-head prop, but I personally prefer to play tight-head prop.

YR. How long have you been in Dubai?
BL. I’ve only been playing rugby for the Sharks for two months now as I’m still new to life in Dubai.

YR. Which country did you come from and how does playing rugby here in the UAE differ from your home country?
BL. I came from France, my home country. The cultural diversity brings a lot of differences on the pitch. Compared to France, the game is really fast, always playing out wide, which is not really the kind of rugby we play in France. The rugby game is just crazy over here, it’s intense and exciting. Rugby in France is much slower, it’s more physical than technical, and forwards keep the ball a lot more. At the moment I think French rugby is old fashioned. You just need to look at the French performances in the rescent Rugby World Cup to see the proof. So it’s amazing and positive for me to learn to play with this international culture. Especially for a prop, because we are not used to playing with such ‘mobile’ and fit props in France, so I it is a great opportunity to learn with other players from all over the world.

YR. How many years have you been playing rugby?
BL. I used to play when I was younger, but I had to stop because of an injury. I came back to playing rugby two years ago where I played for my University in France.

YR. What made you choose your current rugby club?
BL. Actually, I was really lucky to find the Dubai Sharks. Before coming to Dubai, I knew that I wanted to play rugby and continue playing the sport that I love. So I tried to contact the different teams I found on Facebook, and the only reply I got was from the Dubai Sharks. They were quick to respond, and I had many questions which they were able to answer very easily. Then, 3 days after arriving in Dubai, I was able to come to my first training session. It was amazing because I didn’t know anybody in Dubai and as soon as I arrived, I was welcomed into the club like it was my family.

YR. What has been your favourite memory so far playing rugby here in the Gulf?
BL. I would have to say my first game. It was amazing because I was really feeling part of a team, and it’s an indescribable feeling, the first time you share a rugby match with your team mates, you only get this feelings playing in team sports. So being back in a rugby team is amazing, and my first game is a great memory for me.

YR. What has been your worst memory playing rugby here?
BL. Definitely my concussion. It was my first one. I was in the starting XV for the 2nd team and I was so up for the game and I just wanted to play the full 80 minutes. After 10 minutes, I was knocked out in a ruck, and I just remember a few minutes later being on the side of the pitch, I was a bit lost and dazed. It’s my worst memory because I was sad and angry to have to stop playing the game, but also the frustration of having to stop for two weeks while I recover as concussion must be taken seriously in rugby.

YR. Which team mate would you most definitely not like to be stranded in the desert with and why?
BL. I guess in the desert it would be really hard to get food… so I would say Armel van Erck, we would have too many arguments about food and who is eating what as we’re both front row forwards and both love a good feed!!

YR. Finally, what makes playing rugby so special here in Dubai and for the Sharks?
BL. The first shock for me was the heat and humidity. Then, obviously, due to the weather, you don’t have mud on the pitch, which is better because at least the game is quick flowing and not stopped by the muddy pitch. Also the cultural diversity of the teams. You have people coming from all over the world, which makes new friendships so much stronger as you wouldn’t usually get the chance to meet them as easily as being back home in France. Everybody is also out here to work or to travel so we all share the same experiences.

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We interview current Dubai Wasps prop – Ben Rothwell

Yalla Rugby interviewed Ben Rothwell, who currently plays tight-head prop for the Dubai Wasps Rugby Club. He has been in Dubai for just over two years now, having moved here from the UK in 2013.

Ben first took up rugby over 15 years ago, when he was studying at university back in 2000 and he wanted to continue his passion, so he got in touch with a few of the local rugby clubs in Dubai. The (then) chairman of Wasps Rugby Club, Craig Gibson, who Ben says, “was extremely helpful”, gave him plenty of advice and information about playing rugby in Dubai and he knew from that moment that he wanted to play for the Wasps.

“Getting in touch with these guys was a tremendous help to me before I even set foot in Dubai.”

We asked Ben what his favourite memory so far has been as a Wasps player, playing rugby here in the UAE?

“I think winning the B6 competition in my first year was my favourite memory. We had a mixed season, but in the B6 competition we were extremely competitive. Come the final, where we played the Dubai Sharks, we were unstoppable and destroyed them that day. It didn’t hurt that I scored my first try for the Wasps in the first couple of minutes in that game. I’d like to say it was a try full of panache, but in reality it was a crash over from about 2m out.”

And his worst memory playing for the Dubai Wasps?

“I think my worst memory came this summer, and wasn’t actually playing, but it was fearing that Wasps may no longer exist. We lost some of our sponsors, and it was looking like it might be unfeasible to continue with the season. That’s when I got involved in the committee again, determined to try and save the club.”

Spending a lot of time with your teammates is important for building up comradely and lasting friendships on and off the pitch. So we asked Ben, which teammate he would most definitely not like to be stranded in the desert with and why?

He said, “I think it would be Laith Dawood. He once turned up in Abu Dhabi for a game, only trouble was, we were playing at the Sevens. So if I was stuck in the desert with him, I would fear for myself ever getting out alive.”

We also asked Ben what makes playing rugby in the UAE so special, which he replied, “The rugby scene here in the United Arab Emirates is fantastic. It is still a growing sport and has improved massively in the last two years since I’ve been here. Rugby clubs are getting stronger and stronger and its the striving to compete that makes us still do what we do. The facilities out here are out of this world – Just playing at world class venues like The Sevens and Al Ain Amblers rugby ground really make you appreciate the opportunity – I certainly don’t miss rocking up to a cabbage patch on a Saturday afternoon, rolling around in mud only to find that the showers are broken and cold!”

“The weather makes the rugby here a quicker more backs orientated game. Which as a prop, suits me, as we are all wannabe No. 10’s!”

Want to play for The Dubai Wasps?

We’d like to thank Ben for giving us this brief insight into playing rugby in the UAE. If you are interested in letting us know your UAE rugby experiences, please get in touch at info[at]

If you are interested in joining the Dubai Wasps Rugby Club, Ben highly recommends speaking with their current Chairman, Laurence Parker, Aaron Lewis or Pete Scargill. Visit the Dubai Wasps club page here.

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Dubai Wasps player is collecting for Tanzania

One of the many benefits of playing rugby in Dubai, is that there are players looking to help raise awareness and promote our sport throughout various parts of the world.

One such player, Danny Thomas, a member of the Dubai Wasps 1st XV team, will be visiting Tanzania as part of an organised school trip in December 2015. During his visit there, he is hoping to provide children in the underprivileged areas of Tanzania some rugby kit which will assist with the Youth Athletic Programs.

Many young people in Tanzania don’t have access to positive outlets such as organised sports. Giving pupils access to basic rugby equipment will help them build the confidence to develop new skills, and reinforce the principles of team building and values.

We’re hoping that by publicising Danny’s forthcoming trip to Africa, he will be able to haul a huge amount of kit over to the areas of Tanzania that really need it.

What can you do to help?

Should any rugby clubs in the UAE, parents or fans of the sport wish to donate sporting items, such as rugby tops, boots, balls or any other sports kit, please kindly drop him a message on Facebook or contact him via his email at by Friday 4th December at the latest.

Best of luck Danny!!

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