UAE Expat Rugby News

West Asia Championship Rugby 2016

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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Player Pathway Programme Joined By Land Rover

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 Rugby 7’s

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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Bali 10s Potbellies celebrate a successful tour

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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Dubai Eden Park Sevens Rugby Series Announced

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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Dubai Sharks – Whats It Like Playing For Them?

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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Playing for Dubai Wasps – A props view

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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Wasps Player Hoping To Create A Buzz

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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Lebanon Win UAE Rugby 7’s Tournament

Lebanon claim Inaugural UAE Rugby Dubai Airports International 7’s tournament title

A strong Lebanon 7’s team lifted the winner’s trophy in Friday’s UAE Rugby Dubai Airports International 7’s tournament, played at Dubai’s Sevens Stadium.

“Our congratulations go to Lebanon, who were convincing in each of their pool games, and incredibly disciplined in both their semi final (posting a 42-7 win over Qatar) and a thrilling, close final against Shaheen (14-12)’ said newly appointed Arab Rugby Chairman, Qais Al Dhalai. “From UAE Rugby’s perspective we are very proud of the progress made by Shaheen. Their performance throughout the day, and in the final, has shown dividends from their hard work with Apollo (Perelini). We now look forward to Shaheen playing a more competitive game throughout the season.”

UAE Shaheen come runners up in the rugby Airports International 7s tournement

“The way UAE Shaheen came together as a team against a very good side and stayed in the game right down to the end speaks volumes about how much they have improved in recent months.”

Commenting on the tournament, Al Dhalai said, “This tournament was an effort from the newly established the Arab Ruby Federation. We were delighted to host 4 of our 9 member unions (within Arab Rugby) for the inaugural UAE Rugby Dubai Airports International 7’s tournament, and will work closely with each union for more teams to participate at what we envisage will be an annual tournament”. “Our sincere thanks goes to Dubai Airports for their support and sponsorship of both UAE Shaheen and this developmental 7’s tournament.” added Al Dhalai.

“The way UAE Shaheen came together as a team against a very good side and stayed in the game right down to the end speaks volumes about how much they have improved in recent months. We are very proud of the team and the coach for all their hard work and commitment and we believe the UAE Shaheen is well on its way to becoming a side to reckon with.” said Anita Mehra, Vice President of Communications & Business Development at Dubai Airports.

shaheen uae rugby airports international 7s runners up in action

The annual UAE Rugby Dubai Airports International 7’s has been designed for emerging teams to participate and be exposed to an international tournament against teams of the same skill and fitness.

4 teams participated in the inaugural tournament, including Dubai Airports UAE Shaheen, KSA, Lebanon, and the first all-Qatari National team.

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Arab Rugby Federation (ARF) officially formed

The Arab Rugby Federation (ARF) has officially been formed

Arab Rugby Federation Officially Formed

The Arab Rugby Federation (ARF) has officially been formed following an extraordinary general meeting held in Dubai (UAE) on October 1st.

Key Points

• The ARF aims to support and stimulate World Rugby and Asia Rugby’s strategic objective of ‘growing the game’
• The ARF intends to open doors for rugby’s inclusion at the upcoming West Asia Games and the Arab Games

The ARF has been formed to represent the Arab nations solely in the sport of Rugby, under the auspices of the Union of Arab National Olympic Committees (UANOC), with the intent to participate in regional games, which follow the pathway to World Rugby, and IOC sanctioned and recognised events.

‎Speaking at the general meeting, newly appointed ARF Chairman, Qais Al Dhalai commented; “The formation of this federation is very important to the development of rugby (in the Arab world) as the sole focus is on rugby itself. We aim to support and stimulate World Rugby and Asia Rugby’s strategic objective of growing the game, and open doors for rugby’s inclusion at the upcoming West Asia Games and the Arab Games, which are both owned by the UANOC.”

“I’m very confident the Arab Rugby Federation will offer various development opportunities to grow the sport among the Arab nations, which at the end of the day will benefit all parties.”

ARF’s committee was also finalised, with Morocco appointed first vice chairman, Tunisia second vice chairman (both Morocco and Tunisia hold World Rugby membership), and UAERF Board Member Mohamed Shaker appointed as Secretary General. “I’m very confident the Arab Rugby Federation will offer various development opportunities to grow the sport among the Arab nations, which at the end of the day will benefit all parties.” Shaker added.

The new Federation’s formation was witnessed in the presence of 9 Arab rugby bodies; UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco.

The modern day rugby player

The Modern Day Rugby Player Inforgraphic

Here’s an interesting new infographic demonstrating how the modern day rugby player differs from back in the amateur days of 1987.

Props now weighing in at an average of 124kg apposed to 108kg, energy from scrums equating to pushing two double decker busses the length of the rugby pitch and being tackled these days is like a fridge being dropped on you from 2m in the air. Good to know!!!

Yalla Rugby Players Dubai


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Roelof Kotze To Join South Africa’s Pumas Rugby Union

UAE Rugby has announced that Roelof Kotze, Performance Manager and National Coach, will be joining South Africa’s Pumas Rugby Union.

Kotze will join the Pumas as Amateur Rugby Manager, immediately after UAE Rugby’s Sri Lanka 7’s campaign (October 10th and 11th), in a role which will see him oversee and be responsible for all aspects of the union’s amateur development programmes and amateur players.

Speaking on his new appointment Kotze commented; “This (appointment) is one that I have been working toward, and, although earlier that I had planned opportunities like this simply don’t come around very often, so when they do you need to grab them with both hands.” “I would like to think I leave UAE Rugby’s development sides and national teams in better standing, and I know the programmes and players will be in good hands moving forward. I would like to thank the Federation for their complete support of my decision.” he added.

“We are very proud of this appointment for Roelof.” said UAERF’s Secretary General Qais Al Dhalai. “The Pumas sought him out, highlighting to us that his experience with developing our Emirati players, as well as his efforts with the National teams (XV’s, Men’s 7’s and U19’s), combined with his solid background and qualifications are what they need in their drive to grow their union, and its players.” “We wish him the very best for a successful future and will be keenly watching the growth of Pumas Union.” added Al Dhalai.

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Best Bars To Watch The Rugby World Cup In Dubai?

5 days to go… heres 5 great bars to watch the Rugby World Cup in Dubai

With just five days to go until the Rugby World Cup kicks off again which sees teams from around the world competing for the ultimate prize of being World Cup Champions 2015. For fans living in Dubai, the Rugby World Cup needs to be watched in a local pub or bar, with a chilled beer in hand to cool you down through the hot months of September and October when the tournament is taking place. So for all the best HD TV sports action this World Cup, be sure to check out our handy guide to the best bars and pubs in Dubai to watch the World Cup 2015.

For our great guide for where to watch the Rugby World Cup in Dubai – read on!

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watch the rugby world cup in dubai girders bar

Girders Bar, Dubai

Girders, located at JA Ocean View Hotel, are celebrating all things Rugby this summer with live matches of the Rugby World Cup including hosting visits by legends of the game. Boasting several large high definition screens including a 203-inch LED HD display unit, the largest on The Walk at JBR. Set in a relaxed environment so you can enjoy all games with the option of alfresco dining, pub-style meals, light snacks, group platters and a wide variety of beverages. Rugby Fans will not be disappointed as Girders will be giving one lucky fan the chance to win two tickets to attend the final at Twickenham on Saturday 31st October.

Opening Times: Sun-Thu 4pm-3am; Fri-Sat 1pm-3am
Contact Tel: 04 814 5590

watch rugby world cup in dubai the bidi bondi bar

Bidi Bondi Bar, Dubai

The Rugby World Cup is a massive event for Bidi as they are one of the most popular rugby bars in the whole of Dubai. They will be showing every game live on 17 screens ranging in size from 42″, 50″, projectors and even a 100″ video wall making you feel as if you are right there cheering on your country. The offers they will be running are a Heineken bucket promo throughout the entire Rugby World Cup, 5 bottles of Hops (Heineken) for only AED 130, also on a Friday and Saturday they will be running their famous Palm Weekend Deal, 12pm till 7pm AED 130 for 4 Drinks and 1 Meal or 5 Drinks. With deals and screen sizes like this, I’d get there early as they’re sure to be packed to the rafters!

Opening Times: Sat to Wed, 10am – 12am, Thurs, Fri, 10am – 1am
Contact Tel:04 427 0515
Watch all the Rugby World Cup at Barasti, Dubai

Barasti Bar, Dubai

With a giant LED screen, Barasti brings you all the very best in sporting entertainment, and boasts more TV screens than most of the Sports Bars in Dubai, just to make sure you get to watch what you came for! They will be broadcasting all the action live from Rugby World Cup and everything in between! As a special highlight they have recently launched a Jagermeister Ice Lounge where punters can cool down after an exciting rugby match!

Opening Times: Sat to Wed, 11am – 1:30am, Thurs, Fri, 11am – 3am
Contact Tel: 04 399 3333

watch rugby world cup in dubai mcgettigans jlt bar

McGettigan’s Bar, Dubai

The newly refurbished and extended McGettigan’s JLT will see its new live music and comedy venue transformed into ‘The Baggot Stadium’ a hub for all things Rugby World Cup! The air-conditioned summer garden will also feature fanzones and extra bars, with numerous TVs and the giant screen to watch the rugby world cup in Dubai on. Fun and interactive competitions will run throughout the tournament offering the chance to win stadium style hospitality packages for you and your mates to enjoy even more of the top-class sporting atmosphere McGettigan’s is known for.

Opening Times: Daily from 12pm – 3am
Contact Tel: 04 378 0800

Watch the Rugby World Cup in Dubai at the Locker Room Bar

The Locker Room Bar, Dubai

Broadcasting the Rugby World Cup events live on a multitude of 14 TV screens. It can get very lively during rugby matches, which should provide you with a great atmosphere to watch the games in while enjoying variety of food and drinks on offer. They have a wide selection of BBQ buffet every Thursday and Friday from 06:00 PM until 09:00 PM.

Opening Times: Daily 1pm – 2am
Contact Tel:  04 501 6189

Hopefully this list will give you some great starting points as to where you can watch the rugby world cup in Dubai this September and October 2015. It should prove to be a great tournament!!

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Balls Deep, Playing Rugby In Dubai

Ok so here it is. I’ve decided to start playing rugby in Dubai. What have I potentially got myself into? A&E at the local Dubai hospital? Trouble with the Mrs? Or something else? Something that will be an amazing experience? Perhaps new life long friendships forged with fellow team mates? Who knows?

What I do know, is that I’m balls deep now! You see, I love rugby. I have loved rugby for as long as I can remember, and I promised a mate that I would give it another crack!

I’m a UK expat, living in Dubai since 2013 and I’m about to join a local rugby club, much to my wife’s disappointment, and think it would be a great idea to write a few blog posts about what it’s like to try playing rugby in Dubai.

A bit of history first

I’ll start with a little bit of history about my rugby playing days. Currently I’m relatively fit and healthy, but deep inside I’m a broken man. To date I’ve smashed both shoulders, suffered a broken jaw, various broken digits, numerous black eyes and plenty of bruises. Not to mention, “retired” from rugby three times and I’m only 34. Deep down I don’t think rugby players ever really retire do we? There’s always “just one more season” or that “one last match”.

The level of rugby I’ve played over the years has been ok I guess. Starting as a spritly 8 year old at  grassroots level and then colts through my teenage years first, then 1st and 2nd team rugby when I was as, I would call it, “in my prime”, followed by a couple of veteran/old timers years in and out of retirements.

Finding a local rugby club in Dubai

Before moving to Dubai from the UK, I did my research and looked at various rugby clubs that would be close to where I would be living. Due to work commitments though, I never really found the time to do any rugby training. This all changed when my close friend started playing for the local team – Dubai Sharks rugby club, who play out of Dubai Sports City which is about 10 minutes along the road.

The urge to put my rugby boots back on and walk out onto the rugby pitch again has since proved too much. I have caved in and decided to give it another craic. It wasn’t just the playing of rugby that I have missed over the years. It’s also been the close team environment and rugby banter that I have missed.

So, throughout the next series of posts I will be preparing to play for the Dubai Sharks Rugby Club, and will give you first hand accounts of what rugby life is like as an expat, living in Dubai. I will hopefully get a good insite on the level of rugby that is played out here in Dubai and the UAE and also get a taste of what the social life is like as well as answers to questions such as…. Will I die playing rugby in the Dubai heat? Can I drink after a rugby match? Is there any grass in Dubai?

Here goes….

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UAE Rugby Squad Trains With Legend Lomu

Rugby Legend – Jonah Lomu In Dubai, UAE

It’s been almost 20 years since Jonah Lomu stunned international rugby audiences at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa, when he scored seven tries in five matches, including four in the semi-final against England. Despite having just two All Black caps, Jonah Lomu was included in the squad.

The former All Blacks winger paid an impromptu visit to the UAE sevens squad who were training in Dubai last night, dishing out some advice and tips for the rugby players preparing for the Asian Sevens held in Hong Kong this September.

Lomu, now 40 years of age was visiting Dubai for a medical check up when he requested to meet up with Roelof Kotze and his 7’s squad who were training at the 7he Sevens stadium in Dubai.

The rugby legend ran through some drills with the lucky UAE squad who are currently preparing for the new domestic season as well as the Asian Sevens tournament, which will be held in Shanghai and Colombo during September and October.

The head coach of the UAE sevens squad, Roelof Kotze, was as shocked as the rest of the squad saying…

“It wasn’t at all planned. It was a last minute thing. He wanted to come to practice and asked if I minded.”

“A few of the players were shocked initially to see him there. He came in, observed the session for most of it then at one stage he just asked if I minded if he said one or two things and I said sure,” said Kotze.

“We were doing a drill and he just said he wanted to tell them one or two things about it, what they’re missing and one or two technical issues.”

“He called the boys in and gave them one or two pointers, on the technical aspects of the breakdown and communicating.”

“Communication has developed because there are guys that obviously don’t speak Arabic and guys that don’t speak English. He came on and told the guys they were too quiet. That was good because that’s what I’ve been telling them.”

Kotze added: “Afterwards the players all wanted to have their photos taken with him. It was really good and a nice evening. It was great for the guys. I’m sure everybody there was chuffed to see him and hear what he had to say.

He went on to pay tribute to Lomu, who also turned up at a training session in the UAE last year, when he was a guest at the opening of the 2014 UAE Rugby Annual Awards, saying: “He’s a nice guy. He was very complimentary, he said the guys were looking better than the last time he saw them. He thinks there’s been an improvement.”

“He was here for the UAE Rugby Annual Awards last year and attended one of our sessions and now he’s come out again, so it was nice to hear from him.”

“I spoke to him about coming again. When he’s around next I’ll definitely get him in. He always offers to come along when he’s here so perhaps next time we’ll just make it more formal.”

Lomu is currently on his Unstoppable UK Tour 2015 retired from rugby in 2007, but was persuaded to play in the Help For Heroes charity match at Twickenham a year later, although he had to withdraw after injuring his ankle in training.

He will be visiting Dublin, Belfast, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Newcastle, Swansea, Manchester, Southampton, Leicester and London throughout September and October.

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Revamped UAE Premiership Rugby Season 2015/16

UAE Rugby Premiership 2015/16

For the new 2015/16 UAE rugby season, both the UAE Rugby Premiership and the Gulf Top Six will change.

The UAE Premiership will change from a round-robin format where teams would play each other once and the top two teams play each other in a grand final, to;- teams playing both home and away fixtures and the team at the top of the table being crowned champions of the UAE Rugby Premiership 2015/16.
Gulf Top 6 (West Asia Championship)

The Gulf Top Six (GT6) will have a drastic change with another three teams being added to the competition and will now be the West Asia Championship. In recent years, the top four teams from the UAE Rugby Premiership would qualify for the GT6. This season the qualification process has been scrapped. The revamped West Asia Championship will consist of the following Teams from around the Gulf: Muscat, Bahrain, Doha, Abu Dhabi Saracens, Abu Dhabi Harlequins, Jebel Ali Dragons, Dubai Exiles, Dubai Hurricanes and the newly promoted Al Ain Amblers. All teams will play each other once with the team at the top of the table being crowned West Asia Championship Winners.

The West Asia Championship will no longer conclude the UAE domestic season. This season the UAE Rugby Premiership will be played either side of it, with rounds one to seven to be played from September 25th until November 6th 2015. The West Asia Rugby Championship will be played from January 8th until March 18th, with the final three rounds of the UAE Rugby Premiership played from March 25th until April 8th 2016.

UAE Rugby Conference

The UAE Rugby Conference will continue with the same structure as before with eleven teams. There will be eleven rounds of action before teams split into Top 6 and Bottom 5 playoffs with both Top 6 and bottom 5 finals due to be played on March 25th 2016.

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