UAE Expat Rugby News

UAE Expat Rugby Player Transfers Over The Summer

uae rugby club transfers summer 2018

Over the summer there have been some player movements from various clubs. Below is the list of who’s in and who’s out. Current UAE Expat Rugby Conference winners Dubai Tigers appear to have scooped the majority of the summer transfers with 6 newcomers, followed by the Dubai Eagles who will be looking to bolster their squad for their second season of UAE Rugby following their debut last season finishing 5th place in the UAE Premiership. The most notable figures are the Jebel Ali Dragons who have had 5 players leave over the summer. The UAERF summer transfer window is from 1st June – 31st July but has had a temporary extension until 15th August.

Transfers By Clubs

Rugby ClubPlayers OutPlayers In

UAE Summer Transfers 2018

Alan ShortDubai HurricanesDubai Eagles
Arnuad TachiBeaver NomadsDubai Tigers
Bradley StuartJebel Ali DragonsDubai Tigers
Caleb AndersonDubai HurricanesDubai Eagles
Charl LippertAl Ain AmblersDubai Exiles
Daniel MainDubai EaglesDubai Tigers
Epeli DavetousluJebel Ali DragonsAbu Dhabi Harlequins
Fabian RivallandDubai ExilesDubai Tigers
Gregory DominiqueDubai ExilesDubai Tigers
Isaac PorterSharjah WanderersDubai Eagles
James MulhairDubai HurricanesDubai Eagles
Josue Essome MakongoJebel Ali DragonsDubai Exiles
Karl KcGowanBeaver NomadsDubai Tigers
Moses SoitaAbu Dhabi HarlequinsAl Ain Amblers
Phillip Le RouxDubai HurricanesDubai Exiles
Pio ImmaJebel Ali DragonsDubai Hurricanes
Sakiusa NaisuJebel Ali DragonsDubai Hurricanes

Asian Games 2018 – All Emirati UAE National Sevens Squad

UAE national sevens asian games 2018

Apollo Perelini’s UAE 7’s squad set off this morning to compete in the Asian Games competition also known as Jakarta-Palembang 2018, which is a pan-Asian multi-sport event being held from 18 August to 2 September 2018 in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang which is hosting the Games for the first time since 1962.

The all Emirati squad will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of the National Sevens squad that made their rugby sevens debut at the Queenstown Stadium in Singapore for the Asia Rugby Sevens Trophy 2018 which saw the expat featured squad beat the two best sides at the tournament (apart from themselves) – the hosts and Thailand – to become champions in the second tier of sevens.

The Asian games will be kicking off on the 30th August where Perelini’s squad will hopefully progress to the knockout stages of the competition. They will be competing their pool games against the likes of Korea, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan and will be looking to get their first game off to a good start against a strong Sri Lanka squad.

Asian Games 2018 – UAE National Sevens Squad

  • Saeed Ibrahim Abdulla Saad
  • Ahmed Mohammed Alareefi
  • Majid Mohammed Albalooshi
  • Walid Salem Albalooshi
  • Younes Ahmed Alblooshi
  • Saeed Abdulla Alkatheeri
  • Mohammed Khalifa Almarar
  • Rashed Saqer Almarzooqi
  • Hassan Ali Alnoobi
  • Mohammed Sulaiman Alnuaimi
  • Ali Matar Alsereidi
  • Mohamed Saeed Alshamsi
  • Ahmad Moosa Alshehi
  • Hamad Rashed Alshkeili
  • Yousuf Lashkri Mohammad
  • Abdalla Rabee Rabee Salmin

Asian Games Pool C Rugby Sevens Fixtures For UAE

  • Sri Lanka vs UAE
  • UAE vs Afghanistan
  • Korea vs UAE

Favourites to win the Rugby Sevens at the Asian Games 2018 will be Japan who will be looking to impress before the Nations 15’s Rugby Union side compete in next years 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Saracens Withdraw From UAE Premiership Rugby

Saracens withdraw from UAE Premiership

In a month that has already witnessed one casualty for the new 2018/19 rugby season with Beaver Nomads withdrawal from competitive rugby, it now appears that the Abu Dhabi Saracens rugby club will be withdrawing from Premiership rugby for the forthcoming UAE rugby season.

After what looked like a promising pre season start to their 2018/19 rugby campaign, the Abu Dhabi based club will only field one team this coming season. The 2014/15 Gulf Champions will only be entering this years’ UAE Expat Conference League citing the current economic climate within the UAE and a drop in player numbers as a deciding factor. In a statement received from the Saracens, the Committee have decided to endorse a plan to continue rebuilding their foundations. This plan revolves around providing the best opportunities for the players to enjoy their rugby, to still compete at a good level and see more successes from their hard work.

“It serves us no long term gain to extend beyond the absolute limits of our means.”

Director of Rugby Peter Henderson stated at the committee meeting, “While we launched an unprecedented pre-season campaign for the players’ strength and conditioning as well as a media campaign, we must not lose sight of our goals as a rugby club and the values we believe in. It serves us no long term gain to extend beyond the absolute limits of our means. The stresses to the players who would be required to step up a grade should injury or unavailability of other players dictate, as well as the financial cost to the club to travel to the West Asia rugby matches needed to be considered. Entering one team into the Conference League offers us unprecedented depth in our ranks, does not extend our Club finances beyond our means, and gives the players real expectations of success on the pitch. We need to be responsible, realistic and maintain the passion every Sarries player and supporter deserves.”

“We are revitalised as never before”

“We are revitalised as never before”, added Director of Rugby Peter Henderson. “The knocks have not stopped coming this season either. The club and committee has been pushed already these recent weeks but we’ve pulled through and as united as ever. Rugby Clubs exist for Rugby Players. It is the players who Saracens will always support to the best of our ability and do whatever we can to give them the opportunity for success on and off the pitch”.

As well as Senior Mens rugby, Saracens have a growing and strengthening Ladies rugby team. In the regular season they train every Monday and Wednesday nights from 19:00 until 20:30. Any interested players or social members can contact the Saracens for more information.

Choosday Chat With UAE Referee Tony Duminy

Tony Duminy UAE rugby referee

UAE Referee Tony Duminy talks nicknames, braais and condensed milk


Age: 37
Born: Uitenhage, South Africa
Level: World Rugby Level 3, Asia Rugby B-Panel & #1 on UAE Premiership Panel.

“I quickly apologised and changed it to a yellow card”

Do you have any nicknames?

I’ve obtained quite a few over the years. You can always tell where someone knows me from simply by which nickname they’re using: TD, TonyD, Smiley, T-Dog, T-Bone and Pastor.

What are your bugbears?

I dislike rude people (and idiots!).

What do you get up to in your spare time?

Mostly I get up to entertaining my daughter, but I enjoy playing golf, fishing and cooking up a good braai! (YR: For those not in the know, braai or braaivleis is South African for a picnic or barbecue where meat is grilled over an open fire)

Tony Duminy

What’s been the funniest thing you’ve seen or heard on a rugby pitch?

It’s a long list really, but it ranges from players’ expressions when they’ve been stitched up by a team-mate when they’ve been given a hospital pass to the wry smile they give me when they realise they’ve been caught out “bending the laws”, but last year… a premiership fly half made his way to the line out where he wanted to query/complain to the ref (who he knew rather well). This started to create a scene, so the ref simply asked him “are you here to lift?” It broke the ice, everyone laughed and they got on with the game. (YR: Brilliant!)

Whats been your most embarrassing moment during a game?

Once I mistakenly pulled out the red card for repeated infringements, not understanding why the player was so distraught, until the opposition captain said “Reds a bit harsh Mr Ref”. Realising my mistake, I quickly apologised and changed it to a yellow card.

If you could be one of the other UAE Refs, who would it be?

Norman Drake, He’s forever on holiday!

What would you like to achieve outside of refereeing rugby matches?

I’d like to be a good husband and father.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Condense Milk or Caramel Treat. (YR: No strawberries???)

Do you have any hidden talents?

I used to play the guitar pretty well.

What do you miss most about South Africa?

Phuza Thursday, College (schoolboy) rugby derby days, the post match fines and meetings at Buffs and Old Selbonians.

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

Teleportation, I spend so much time driving at the moment that it would make life a lot easier if I could just click my fingers and be where I needed to be in an instant, instead of just being stuck in the Dubai traffic.

Who has the worst Dress sense out of the refs?

Oh I’d be the last one to judge on that!

Who do you like to listen to, to get you ready for a big match?

Most commonly Coldplay and Tiësto but I like to change it up a lot.

Beavers Withdraw From Community League Rugby

Beavers Rugby Dubai

Beaver Nomads Withdraw From Community League

For the second consecutive season, we will be saying farewell to a UAE rugby club. A year to the day, the Dubai Wasps rugby club called it a day and now it’s the unfortunate turn for the Beaver Nomads who will be ending their chapter of competitive rugby.

Rugby clubs are expensive business and rarely turnover a profit. It is the pure love of the sport that we share that keeps teams turning up each week.

Unfortunately for the Beavers, who have been known for their sociable antics around Dubai, have seen key players depart the region for their respective countries. Not only that, but the club have lost their major sponsors in MMI and Claw BBQ, which has now forced the club into the red and unable to meet the Trade License qualifications of playing competitive Community rugby required by the UAERF.

Harry Lonergan Beaver Nomads Rugby Club Dubai

It most certainly doesn’t mean it’s the end of the Beavers. We will be entering a team into both the Dubai Rugby Sevens and the Eden Park 7’s. The Beavers have prided themselves on being a non-profit set up, allowing us to keep membership affordable. It’s unfortunate that the enforcement of a costly trade license requirement means we are unable to continue.

says club Chairman Harry Lonergan. He also added, “We are committed to re joining for the 2019/20 season and would like to wish both the league management and other teams good luck for the season ahead.”

It was the only back in 2015/16 that the Beaver Nomads won the inarguable UAE Community League title and have finished close 3rd place in the following seasons. There is no doubt, that the Beavers have been a force to be reckoned with in the 15’s game and will still be a team to keep an eye on during the 7’s season. We wish them all the best and hope to see them again in the domestic league in the future.

Choosday Chat With Quins Fly Half Luke Stevenson

Luke Stevenson Harlequins rugby player

Abu Dhabi Harlequins fly half Luke Stevenson talks real ales, Vince McMahon and down time.


Age: 27
Born: Chester, United Kingdom
Club: Abu Dhabi Harlequins
Position: Fly Half
Height: 182cm
Weight: 90kg
UAE 15’s Caps: 3
UAE 7’s Caps: 5

“He thinks he’s Brad Pitt but wears a suit like Vince McMahon”

Who do you like to listen to to get you ready for a big match?

Whatever Murray Reason pulls out the bag, but if he’s not there then either some Oasis or Stereophonics.

What do you miss most about the UK?

I really miss the simple stuff like real ale and proper pubs… and a decent club house!

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

It would have to be Phil Abraham, for having the most seductive voice on the continent.

Who has the worst Dress sense?

Definitely Andrew Powell (Kiwi), he thinks he’s Brad Pitt but wears a suit like Vince McMahon (below) from back in the 90’s.

Vince McMahon

Do you have any hidden talents?

None :(

Do you have any phobias?

Heights, I’m not a fan. I did a bungee jump when I was in New Zealand and have never looked so pathetic.

Who are the jokers at the Harlequins?

Malcolm Greenslade, when he’s not searching eBay for a new Fishing Rod. he turns up occasionally, but when he does he’s painfully good value.

Do you have any nicknames?

None that I know of.

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

Jonathan Stannard – It’s just too painful to see him struggle with no signal for Tinder.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Phil Abraham’s voice.

What’s been the most embarrassing moment on the rugby pitch?

There isn’t one particular moment that I can think of but pretty much anytime I miss an ‘easy’ kick (unfortunately there’s been a few).

What do you get up to in your spare time?

I’m trying to chop my way around the local golf course more at the moment, it’s not going well.

Arabian Knights Charge Into 2018/19 UAE Rugby Season

Arabian Knights RFC training at Fitrepublik Dubai

While players across the UAE start their pre-season conditioning, the work behind the scenes for the new season preparations begins much earlier for club management. Local Dubai side, the Arabian Knights RFC leadership team have been hard at work throughout the offseason to showcase the club’s strength in what will be it’s 10th Anniversary year. Founded in 2008, the club is 600 members strong and offers rugby coaching for kids from the age of 5 to over senior rugby at 35+.

After a season of disruption to the seniors’ setup last year, it is the Men’s rugby teams that has experienced a revival during the offseason in preparation for a competitive charge into 2018/19. Welcoming Ric Lambert to the 1st team coaching setup, concluding an agreement with Sports City-based FitRepublik, and appointing a Club Captain to strengthen the team’s leadership and infrastructure, the team is setting their sights firmly to the top half of the Conference table this coming season.

“Having someone of Ric’s experience on board has already been telling in our preparations”

“Having someone of Ric’s experience on board has already been telling in our preparations,” says chairperson, Louise Palmer. “Under the guidance of coaches Wayne Terry and now Ric, we have a core team of young, exciting talent and looking to build on the season ahead. We can’t wait to get going.”

While cardio work for the players began back in June, a sea of distinctive orange vests descended on Sports City’s FitRepublik for their first group session of strength and conditioning on Monday night, with the players taking full advantage of the club’s investment in making available world class facilities and trainers to their members and newcomers.

Arabian Knights 1st vs Dubai Hurricanes 2nd

“In the club’s 10th year, we’re all set to do the club and ourselves proud,” says Charlie Willis, team captain and Number 8. “While clubs endure player turnover every year, mostly to relocation, the interest from fresh blood for the 2018/19 season has been very encouraging,” he added.

The Arabian Knights Mens and Vets teams are based at Kings School Al Barsha during the regular season. For preseason, they gather every Friday morning at 07:30 for an open beach session at Kite Beach, or twice a week at FitRepublik for the remainder of August.

Expat Rugby Clubs In Dubai – Best Advice For Finding One

4 tips to find UAE expat Rugby Clubs In Dubai

So you’re an Expat ready to find a local rugby club in Dubai, or other Emirates of the UAE?

Here at Yalla Rugby we know first hand about finding a rugby club in Dubai. Becoming an expat and moving abroad to a foreign land can at first be a pretty daunting experience. You’re choosing to start a new life in a country unfamiliar to you, and whilst extremely rewarding, it can take a while to settle in and find your feet.

Once you are settled however, it’s then time for you to find a sense of normality and to start living your life the way you want it to be lived. Rugby for example, is a universally spoken language that people all across the globe can understand. Playing rugby in Dubai not only gives you some beneficial exercise, it’s also challenging, and it teaches you discipline and various other life skills in the process.

UAE Expat Rugby

If you’re new to expat life in Dubai, enjoying living in the fantastic climes of the United Arab Emirates, you’ll know right away that rugby clubs in UAE are spread out everywhere, as it’s an incredibly popular sport in this part of the world. If you yourself happen to be an avid rugby fan, looking to play expat rugby in Dubai, you’ll need to be on the lookout for a club to play for. Finding a rugby club in an unfamiliar part of the world however, can be tricky, which is why we’ve compiled this handy article on how to find the ideal rugby team and club to support, so you can get those rugby boots back on!

Dubai expat Rugby Clubs UAE

Finding An Expat Rugby Club In Dubai

The UAE Rugby Federation is the national governing body here in the United Arab Emirates. There are many different rugby clubs in Dubai, as well as numerous rugby teams and organisations with deep-rooted connections to the rugby world, so the clubs and teams are certainly out there, you just need to know how to find them. Check out our list of expat rugby clubs for a look at a list of local UAE rugby clubs. Looking at lists of this nature is ideal as we’ll give you a brief history of each club and the all important contact details for you to get in touch with to enquire about joining.

uae rugby clubs infographic 2016 - 2017


What Should I Expect When Playing Rugby In The UAE?

If you’ve moved to the UAE from a much cooler part of the world, one of the first things that you will immediately notice is just how incredibly hot it is in the United Arab Emirates. For that reason, before you commit to any Dubai rugby club or team, first you will need to know what to expect. For example, playing rugby matches, and training for rugby, outdoors in intense heat is not to be taken lightly. Playing rugby and training in extreme heat is very difficult and very taxing, so it’s vital that you stay well hydrated at all times. Not only will you have to contend with the physical challenges thrown at you on the rugby pitch, you also have the burning hot sun to deal with. Even evening games are sometimes very hot and sweaty. As well as that, there is the language barrier to contend with.

Ask Around For Advice

Another great tip for anybody looking to play UAE Expat rugby in Dubai, is to ask around for any recommendations/suggestions on clubs that may be looking for new players. Gyms are great places to begin your search as there is a big bodybuilding culture in the UAE, and if there’s one thing that rugby players are known for, it’s their huge size, strength, and their love of pumping iron in preparation of games.

So with that new knowledge in mind, we wish you the best of luck when choosing a rugby club in Dubai and the UAE!!!

UAE National Sevens Squad On Route To Asia Rugby 7s Debut Singapore

UAE 7s players training for the Asia Rugby Sevens Trophy 2018

This weekend the UAE National Sevens squad make their rugby sevens debut at the Queenstown Stadium in Singapore for the Asia Rugby Sevens Trophy 2018 which sees thirteen teams fight it out for the opportunity to gain promotion to the Asia Rugby Sevens Series in 2019.

In their Pool B, the UAE Sevens Squad will face up against Jordon, Nepal and Indonesia.

Congratulations to all selected (see full squad list below). All matches will be streamed live on the Asia Rugby Facebook page.

Niko Volavola representing the Yalla Rugby select 2018

A special mention goes out to Niko VolaVola, who plays for the Jebel Ali Dragons and also featured in our Yalla Rugby Select squad for the Barrelhouse 10s tournament which took place early in the year.

UAE National Sevens Squad Selection 2018

  1. Andrew Powell
  2. Emosi Vecanua
  3. Hassan Al Noobi
  4. Jaen Botes
  5. Kinivilame Natuna
  6. Luke Stevenson
  7. Niko VolaVola
  8. Saeed Al Maheiri
  9. Sean Carey
  10. Sirilo Laladidi
  11. Vito Tuivione
  12. Walid Al Balooshi

UAE National 7s Fixture List For The Asia Rugby Sevens Trophy 2018

  • UAE vs Nepal (Kick off at UAE time 06:28 on 4th August)
  • UAE vs Indonesia (Kick off at UAE time 09:24 on 4th August)
  • UAE vs Jordan (Kick off at UAE time 12:42 on 4th August)

Choosday Chat With Al Ain Ambler’s Hannah Hall

Hannah Hall - Al Ain Amblers Rugby Player

Al Ain Amblers speedster Hannah Hall talks Baywatch style rescues, local driving etiquette and chucking salt


Age: We don’t ask!
Born: Gloucester, United Kingdom
Club: Al Ain Amblers
Position: Wing/Scrum Half
Height: 158cm
Weight: 49kg

“Simultaneously the scariest and most embarrassing moment of my life!”

What do you get up to in your spare time?

(laughs) Spare time isn’t something I’m familiar with but I try and grab as much time in the gym as possible.

What annoys you?

When I am driving and I give way to someone but they don’t say thank you. Grrrrr!

Do you have any nicknames?

Pocket Rocket. I’m small enough to fit in your pocket and run like a rocket!

Any superstitions?

I have issues with passing someone else on the stairs or dropping salt and having to throw it over my shoulder afterwards. You don’t want to be within a 2 metre radius of me when that happens!

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

Do you think The All Blacks would fit in a lift?

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

Definitely Courtney because she always looks so stylish.

Who are the jokers at Amblers WRFC?

My entire team! It’s always a laugh a minute with them.

Do you have any hidden talents?

Well I didn’t know I would be any good at playing rugby until 12 months ago so I’d have to say that.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Basking Robbins sundaes, they rock!

Who does the cooking at home?

Me. I do everything.

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

Being a good Mum.

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

I’d like to be able to freeze things… I love the snow!

Most embarrassing moment?

Getting stuck on the rocks as the tide had come in around me, whilst exploring a beach in Sydney. Anyway, to cut a long story short. I had to be rescued, by a lifeguard who looked about twelve years old, in an inflatable dinghy whilst the entire beach watched. Simultaneously the scariest and most embarrassing moment of my life!

Choosday Chat With Dubai Eagles Player Conor Coakley

Conor Coakley Eagles rugby player

Dubai Eagles second row Conor Coakley talks changing room calamities, shares in Snapchat, and dodgy dress sense.


Age: 33
Born: Arklow, Republic Of Ireland
Club: Dubai Eagles
Position: Second Row
Height: 193cm
Weight: 105kg

“One of my phobias is nuns…. they scare me. I would also have to say I’m a bit of a Trypophobic”

Song to get you pumped for a match?

Rocky Road to Dublin, by The Dubliners.

Who are the jokers at Eagles?

They would have to be Daniel Crumplin, Gorgeous George Agius, Mark Sumner.

Do you have any nicknames?

I have too many to name and none that are flattering.

What annoys you?

Jamie Webb. (Eagles player)

What do you get up to in your spare time when not playing rugby?

I love to travel as we’re pretty much the gateway of the world here in Dubai. I also play guitar, and I sometimes like to give myself motivational talks too.

Do you have any phobias?

One of my phobias is nuns…. they scare me. I would also have to say I’m a bit of a Trypophobic. (We’ll let you look that one up!)

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

If I could have one superpower, it would have to be the ability to fly. No more Dubai traffic!!!!

What’s the daftest thing you’ve ever bought?

There’s too many that come to mind… but some shares in Snapchat were probably the daftest thing I’ve bought.

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

Padraig ‘Podge’ Crowley. We are all only participants in Podge’s world.

Do you have any hidden talents?

Art; I paint. I can also sing in full “Dancing at the Crossroads” by The Wild Swans. Oh and archery, I’m good at that too.

What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen or heard on a rugby pitch?

It wasn’t on the the pitch but in the changing rooms before a big game, circa 2010 for Doha, when Angus Frasier broke his own nose pulling on his sock. (Ouch)

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

Joe Rogan, he’s a standup comedian and martial arts commentator.

Who has the worst Dress sense in the Eagles?

There are several contenders but it must be Cameron Dearie for his pointy shoes with spikes. I think he got them from Dragon Mart.

Al Maha – All-Emirati U18 Girls Team In Successful Sri Lanka Training Camp

Al Maha U18 girls rugby sri lanka training camp

UAE Rugby’s all-Emirati U18 Girls team, Al Maha, complete successful Sri Lanka training camp ahead of Asia Tournament

UAE Rugby’s all-Emirati U18 Girls team, Al Maha, recently participated in an intensive 7-day training camp, in Colombo and Kandy, Sri-Lanka, fine-tuning and honing their rugby skills and increasing their fitness levels. The purpose of the camp was to prepare the National (U18) UAE Rugby 7’s team for the upcoming U18 Girls Asia 7’s Tournament, which will be taking place in India, during October 2018.

UAE Rugby’s Head Coach, Apollo Perelini stated;

“The camp was a success, we’re seeing vast improvements in their abilities, and I’m exceptionally pleased with the commitment shown by this group of girls in developing their (rugby) skills and levels of fitness. Our players gained valuable experience and I am confident this (camp) has assisted preparations ahead of their participation in the Asia Rugby U18 Girls Tournament.”

On the final day of the camp, Al Maha were able to put the skills learnt to practice playing a number of friendly games with the Sri-Lankan U18 Girls 7’s squad.

Qais Al Dhalai, UAE Rugby Secretary General added;

“We extend our sincere appreciation to the Sri Lanka Rugby Union, where, through their co-operation and assistance this camp was possible.” “We also thank their entire team for welcoming our girls rugby so warmly, and for looking after them while in Sri Lanka.”

Dubai Sharks Open New SportsZone Clubhouse

Danny Griffiths - Dubai Sharks Rugby

After a troublesome 12 month period without a place to call home, the Dubai Sharks will finally be able to sink their teeth into new dwellings this coming rugby season. Their new clubhouse will be known as the Sports Zone within the Boathouse at Meydan, UAE. Their new club facilities will boast training pitches, a fitness zone and a purpose built all important clubhouse offering value food and drink for players and fans as well as the general public.

The new Sports Zone Clubhouse will be the social centre for the new look Sharks team and aims to be at the heart of sport within Dubai.

Officially opening their doors to the public and to new social and playing members this coming Friday 20th July, the Sharks expect to see a full house to welcome them home at last.

New SportsZone Club House at Meydan, Dubai

It was just over 12 months ago that the Sharks found themselves without a location due to the creation of the Dubai Eagles rugby club at Sports City Rugby Park, where the Sharks had been co sharing with the Arabian Knights for the previous 4 seasons. For the past season they have (against all odds) survived a pretty troublesome period of rugby.

Club Chairman, Mike Quinn said,

“The last season has been extremely difficult for all members of Dubai Sharks, but we now look forward to starting the 2018/2019 season in our new home at The Sports Zone. We believe that our partnership with the Sports Zone and GSMEG will be extremely beneficial to all involved. To be able to confirm that our new home is in this amazing world class facility, which includes our own clubhouse, is an absolutely amazing way to start the new season for all our members, old and new”.

Now the Sharks hope to put the past season’s woes behind them as they embark on pastures new over at the purpose built Sports Zone facility, which will play host to a number of sports on and off the field and aims to have their newly installed grass pitch ready for the start of the 2018/19 rugby season.

With a rich rugby history in Middle East, The Dubai Sharks was founded in 2006 as a senior men’s team playing in the UAE Rugby Conference. A rugby club with a diverse and growing membership renowned for their sportsmanship and hospitality, they are still looking to promote their mantra as a “Serious Rugby, Seriously Social”.

If you are interested in Joining the Dubai Sharks Rugby Club for the new 2018/19 UAE Rugby Season, then be sure to visit their profile page here.

Choosday Chat With Exiles Back Row Jaen Botes

Jaen Botes UAE rugby player

Dubai Exiles and UAE International rugby player Jaen Botes talks spiders, spaghetti hoops, and super models with us.


Age: 28 (5th March 1990)
Born: Pretoria, South Africa
Club: Dubai Exiles
Position: Back Row
Height: 196cm
Weight: 113kg
UAE 15’s Caps: 6
UAE 7’s Caps: 13

What do you get up to in your spare time during the off season?

The last few seasons I’ve just been trying to keep busy, whether it’s in the gym or on an empty rugby field. Plus, I’m not gonna lie, I do like to increase my appetite!

Whats the weirdest thing you’ve experienced on a rugby pitch?

A team player once had a massive crying fit at halftime on the pitch. It happened here in the UAE, was an awkward experience and I didn’t know what to do.

Do you have any nicknames?

The UAE boys call me “Shelf”, I always refer to my midsection as my shelf and how I treat it and wish it wasn’t always on display.

Do you have any phobias?

I have a few but the worst one must be Spiders… I can’t stand them.

Whats the most challenging thing about playing rugby here in Dubai?

There are a few but I must say, the most challenging thing would be trying to adapt to all of the other players in a team as everyone plays their game at different levels, so not everyone is equivalently experienced.

Who does the cooking in your house and how do you prepare for match days?

My wife is a good cook on a good day…haha, I normally cook as she’s too busy with all of the other duties. Normally I try to have the biggest full English breakfast as possible, I must have my tin of spaghetti hoops though! I don’t tend to eat much before a game. I tend to stick to just the usual espresso a few hours before kick off.

Who are the jokers at the Exiles?

There are a few but Alex Fowler must be the highlight. There’s never a dull moment when he’s around.

If you could be any of your teammate, who would it be?

It must be Danny Waddy, what a tank and an utter gent off the field.

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

Depends on what context… Haha, surely this is a trick question? I have to say I wouldn’t mind being stuck in a lift with Candice Swanepoel (South African super model).

What’s your guilty pleasure?

A bag of Cheetos in bed with love Island on the projector.

If you could have one super power, what would it be?

Invisibility, for many reasons!!

Your Mastermind specialist subject?

Rugby, I basically live and breathe it.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I don’t know, I would like to think I’m good at golf but I’m sure someone will tell me different.

Concussion Management – Are You Ready For The 2018/19 Season?

Concussion - rugby head injury

Are you ready for the 2018/2019 season?

Tania Mayne from Up And Running Dubai has vast experience in Adult Neurological Rehabilitation and has developed a strong clinical interest in Concussion management in sport. She discusses the ins and outs of head injures that may occur during a rugby match and what you should be the correct procedure to getting you back on the rugby field as safely as possible.

Concussion Management

Annual baseline testing:

Did you know that the Baseline Concussion Test should be repeated annually for all players aged 8 and older?

Pitch-side management of injured players:

Do you know how to administer the correct first aid for a player with this serious head injury?


All players with a suspected concussion should be referred to a specialist facility experienced in concussion management; even if they have been to a hospital emergency room

Rehabilitation and Return to school (work) and play protocols:

A specialist concussion team assesses all parts of brain function to specifically guide and rehabilitate a player safely back to learning and play


Medical Clearance:

A player must be cleared from all signs and symptoms of concussion by a sports medicine specialist before returning to play

Be prepared:

Do you know the steps to take after a suspected concussion?

Concussion in sport remains a difficult condition to recognize, especially pitch side. It does not have to be a head knock that causes a concussion, but more often it is a high velocity injury with a whiplash element.

“If in doubt, sit them out” is a great mantra for FAIR trained First Aiders – this confirms a SUSPECTED concussion, NOT a DIAGNOSED concussion.

It is essential that all players with a SUSPECTED concussion seek the help of a medical professional specialised in concussion management; even if the A&E department has cleared the athlete. The whole athlete is taken into consideration and the BASELINE TEST forms an important part of the decision making for diagnosis and rehabilitation back to safe play.

accuracy of concussion diagnosis

At UPANDRUNNING we’re taking a stance on protecting athletes, raising awareness about concussion injuries within the sporting community and returning players safely back to sport.

“Throughout the past season The UPANDRUNNING Concussion team, supported by Dr. Ryan Kohler from HeadSmart, ran a very effective concussion service. Whilst we never like to see injured children, we were glad to see such proactive responses from parents, schools and clubs who sought the correct advice and management for the child”, said Tania Mayne UPANDRUNNING Concussion Team Leader.

This season we have added more expertise to our Concussion Team. We have 4 Doctors, 3 Nurses and 3 Physiotherapists with experience in concussion management. We will have a dedicated concussion mobile phone line to offer support and guide management of the injured player from pitch side to the doctor for assessment as well as follow up afterwards and communication to all parties concerned. We will aim to see the player within 24-72 hours post injury for assessment and use robust patient pathways with a team approach and effective communication to guide the player safely back to play.

We are working closely with the UAERF and conferring with other specialist practices in Dubai to ensure the health and Safety of all rugby players.

Sharks 1st vs Dragons 2nd

Ahead of the 2018 season, we are reminding all clubs, players and coaches to:

1) BE READY: Concussion Education, Baseline Screening and Concussion Player Pathway

UPANDRUNNING provide Group Baseline Screening for Concussion and Education. We can help clubs set up their concussion pathways with supporting information and documentation. Email us here at to find out more.


Make sure that your First Aiders are trained to the World Rugby Standard. The FAIR (First Aid in Rugby Course) is run by Health and Safety Solutions in Dubai. Click here to find out more.


The clinical service used must be a recognised service for the assessment and management of potential concussions. A&E clinicians can rule out serious head injuries, but do not accurately diagnose nor treat concussions.

For more information about Baseline Concussion Screening and Education for your rugby club, school or child please contact Tania Mayne, Concussion Team Lead and Physiotherapist at Up And Running Dubai.

About The Author

Tania studied in Cape Town, Soft Africa and graduated in 1995 with a BSc in Physiotherapy. She has vast experience in Adult Neurological Rehabilitation and has developed a strong clinical interest in Concussion management in sport. She has linked up with the leaders in field of sport concussion management to help provide a comprehensive, patient centered, evidence-based service from initial injury management through rehabilitation and save return to sport. Tania believes in safe sporting practice underpinned by education of the team surrounding the athlete.

Pre-Season Training Gets Under Way For Harlequins

harlequins rugby team abu dhabi

As pre-season training gets under way for the Abu Dhabi Harlequins one thing is on their mind, more silverware. Whether it’s a 7s title or retaining the Community League title for the clubs 3rd team the Barbarians, one thing is certain it is back to business for the Abu Dhabi Harlequins.

With some pre-season rugby training boasting an in-depth and detailed program covering strength and conditioning in partnership with Vogue Fitness on Yas Island and the infamous Haddins WOD classes, that would test the metal of even the fittest of players. Skill sessions at Zayed Sports City are a change of pace and allow for time with the ball in hand and to sharpen those skills that will soon be tested in all three of the UAE rugby leagues.

Mike McFarlane harlequins coach

“It’s an exciting time for the club” – McFarlane

Head coach Mike McFarlane, said “It’s an exciting time for the club as the Mens, Ladies and U19s take on another comprehensive preseason in world class facilities to ensure they are in the best shape possible to start the season. Preseason whilst a tough time of the year really tests both mental and physical capacities and it’s always interesting to see players put their hands up from the off”.

Newly appointed Club Captain – Simon Walker summed up the clubs attitude and approach:

“Every team in the UAE plays hard and plays to win, our hard work in pre-season pays off every time we step onto the pitch. Training together as a club is the way forward, every section is down putting in the hard work”. “The program we are working to is a professional set up with baseline testing, results tracking and individually tailored aims and goals.”

Training is taking place at Vogue Fitness on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursday from 18:50 sharp with pitch-based skills sessions held at Zayed Sports City Mondays and Wednesdays at 19:00. All ages and abilities are welcome, for more information you can contact the Quins via their club profile page here.

UAERF And MoE Partnership Goes From Strength To Strength

UAERF impact beyond project 2018

UAE Rugby Federation’s Impact Beyond project gains more momentum with the delivery of 800 balls to the UAERF’s schools programme

The UAERF has further strengthened their partnership with the Ministry of Education (MoE) through the MoE including the Federation’s GIR highly successful Player Pathway Programme (PPP), supported by HSBC, into the school’s sports curriculum for Cycles 4 through 11.

Previously, the GIR programme was delivered to girls and boys in Cycles 9 through 11 with the 2017/2018 season seeing an impressive 17,000 girls and 13,000 boys introduced to the game in Emirati schools across the UAE.

“We are extremely pleased to have achieved this season’s performance goals as set by our Board and the Ministry” said Salman Hady, Vice Chairman of UAERF and Chairman of the Development Committee. “It is incredibly rewarding for us to see the number of Emirati girls and boys participating in and enjoying our sport, and we are delighted to be able to take the game into 5 additional Cycles.”

“We extend our sincere gratitude to both the Ministry and to HSBC whose support and commitment has made this possible.”

The Federation recently presented the MoE with 800 Rugby balls to be used in next season’s Player Pathway Programme. The handover of the balls was made at the MoE offices and was attended by Salman Hady; UAERF Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Development Committee, Hamdan Suliman; UAERF CEO, Sami Smara; UAE Rugby Development Manager, Ms. Aisha Al Siri; Director of Health and Physical Fitness (MoE), Mr. Ahmed Abdulrahman; Ministry of Education’s Schools Sports Department (MoE) and Mr. Peter Moore; Programme Manager for the Physical and Health Education.

Saracens Launch Pre Season Attack Ready For 2018/19

Saracens launch pre season attackAbu Dhabi Saracens Rugby Club have gone on the offensive leading into the 2018-19 UAE rugby season

Internally, Saracens announced their 2018/19 campaign plans last week to their club players and members. Last season’s UAE Premiership bottom place finishers will be holding a ‘no-nonsense’ player meeting behind closed doors on 20th June, followed by the launch of their pre season training campaign the following day on their home turf at Al Ghazal Golf Club, Abu Dhabi.

“This season our players will know that the gloves are off”

Head Coach Peter Henderson explains, “Last season I was thrust into the position of Head Coach. I didn’t have the time nor the resources that was needed and it showed. This season our players will know that the gloves are off. I know what is required to play and win at this level and last year we missed the mark.”

Last season, Sarries saw an exodus of all but a few of their 1st team due to player dissatisfaction of the previous era. The results weren’t what they would have liked but as Chairman Jakes Basson says,

“We didn’t give up. Sure, we had many set backs, almost on a daily basis, but we didn’t give up and we finished the season. We have now set in motion a new club culture and values that we will not compromise on.”

The club have been bolstered this year with several new signings that they hope will strengthen the club’s depth and talent. On player recruitment, Henderson commented, “To be honest we have an open door policy both in terms of recruitment and selection. No favourites, not ever. As a player I’ve been at the wrong end of a coach’s inner circle and also been inside it. So I refuse to let that happen. We offer the chance to every player to play top level rugby if that is their goal.”

Saracens will enter teams into the Premiership and the second tier Conference League in the new season, a change from last season where their second team (internally known as the “OGs” or “Other Guys”) played in the third tier Community, finishing second from bottom in the league standings. The club took the decision to enter their 2nd team into the Community League at the beginning of the 2017/18 season as they felt they needed to restructure and rebuild whilst also providing an avenue for the more social players to continue to play. With numbers growing, and a revitalised culture and belief from their committee and coaching staff the OG’s will now play at a higher standard where they hope to improve player depth and to narrow the gap between Premiership and the Conference league again.

As well as senior mens teams, Saracens have a growing ladies rugby team and are looking to relaunch their mini/junior rugby program aimed at children of all ages. Being located so close to a major expat area (Al Raha Beach), the club hopes to offer the enjoyment of being part of a rugby club in Abu Dhabi to everyone. With a licensed premises, the club can offer beverages and the odd BBQ or Braai right on the touchline, something extremely unique to match days and events.

Abu Dhabi Saracens Rugby home ground is at Al Ghazal Golf Club. In the regular season they train every Monday and Wednesday nights from 19:00 until 20:30. Interested players or social members should visit our Sarries club page by clicking here:

Changes To The UAERF Transfer Window That You Should Be Aware Of

UAERF transfer window 2018

Transfer Window Changes Have Taken Place Within The UAERF – Heres What You Need To Know

The UAE Rugby Federation have amended the ‘Player Transfer Window’ based on recommendations proposed at their end of season meeting.

When Are The New Transfer Windows Open?

Players transfers are now only permitted during two periods of the year;

Window One: 1st June – 31st July
Window Two: 20th December – 5th January

Transfers are subject to approval from both club chairmen and the UAERF and the player is only allowed to transfer during the above transfer window dates. This means there will be no free movements during the pre season period before we kick off again in September.

All player transfer requests need to be applied for via the ‘Player Transfer Application Form’ where approval for the transfer will be subject to the Transfer Conditions outlined in the form.

It’s worth noting here that this is only valid for senior rugby (18 years and over).

The player transfer application form is deemed valid only when the below items are fulfilled by all parties involved:

  1. Both club chairpersons or their representatives approve and sign the form.
  2. By signing, the player confirms payment in-full of any annual subscription fees owed to their current club.
  3. The transfer is within the transfer windows and conforms to UAERF Registration & Competition Regulations.
  4. UAERF approves and signs the play transfer form.

Download the official UAERF Local Player Transfer Application Form here:

Dragons Snare Ex British & Irish Lion Mike Phillips For Director Of Rugby

Jebel Ali Dragons have announced that Mike Phillips will be the new Director of Rugby for the 2018/19 season

Caped 94 times for Wales and 5 times for the British and Irish Lions, Phillips brings a wealth of knowledge to the current West Asia Champions. Working alongside last years coaching team of Andrew Buist and Jonny Macdonald, Phillips will be looking to build on a club that is set to raise the bar higher once again.

As a player that has only just retired from top flight leagues, he brings the most recent and relevant rugby knowledge to Jebel Ali.

Mike Phillips moved to Dubai in 2017 to set up his rugby academy that is growing month by month. Currently with the summer months here you can get involved with his academy down at the World Trade Centre.

“We as a club have decided that our continuing strategy of investing in the very best coaching options available to us is the only way to succeed and achieve sustainability. We believe Mike will take the platform set by the previous DOR (Henry Paul) and raise the quality once again. The standard of rugby is leaping forward in the region and we think that it’s our responsibility to ensure the coaching is always ahead of that. We have a product that we offer to over 120 senior players. We need to make sure it’s the best product in West Asia and the UAE”

Said Stuart Quinn – Chairman of the Dragons

The Jebel Ali Dragons had a successful 2017/18 campaign, winning the West Asia Premiership, winners of Eden Park 7s in both vets and social levels as well as being the Dubai 7s Mens Gulf Open finalists narrowly losing to the Exiles.