UAE Expat Rugby News

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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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 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

Source: Betway.com

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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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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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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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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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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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