UAE Expat Rugby News

Win Tickets To An Evening With Brian O’Driscoll

Brian O'Driscoll MeGettigans JLT Dubai

It’s a great opportunity to meet and greet O’Driscoll at McGettigans JLT, Dubai.  The event will include an afternoon of stories and insights from Brian, meet and greet with photo opportunity for all guests, Comedian Compere Mr Jerry Earl, and audience Q&A session, sports memorabilia and prize giveaways.

How do I enter the competition?

Simply like our Yalla Rugby Facebook page (if you don’t already!) and leave us a quick recommendation by clicking the button below. We will be notified of your recommendation and you will automatically be entered into the prize draw which will see the lucky winner announced on Thursday 22nd November.

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Jamie Clarke From The Tigers Has A Choosday Chat

Jamie Clarke Dubai tigers

Dubai Tigers Flanker Jamie Clarke has a quick Choosday Chat


Age: 33
Born: Palmerston North, New Zealand
Club: Dubai Tigers
Position: Flanker
Height: 180cm
Weight: 88kg

“I saw his wallet for the first time at the weekend, but only because his subs were due”

Do you have any nicknames?

It’s boring really, I just get JC, Clarkey or J.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of spare time. If I do and there are some waves in Dubai I’ll be out on the water, other than that I like to get outdoors as much as I can. I do try and get out of Dubai and travel as much as possible though.

Do you have any phobias?

Yeah, I hate snakes.

What do you miss most about New Zealand?

The outdoors along with the surf, the Kiwi food, the beer and of course, my family.

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

Probably Richard Branson, at least I could learn a thing or two whilst I was in there!

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

It’s a way of life back home in NZ. Most New Zealanders play rugby, it’s part of our culture and life growing up!

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

None of them because they are all pests…. haha Mandy Garry he’s got the best tan in the team!

Who has the worst Dress sense?

It would have to be Fitzy, because most of the time he doesn’t have any clothes on.

Who’s the tightest?

Noel, aka Leon Dashwood. I saw his wallet for the first time at the weekend, but only because his subs were due in at The Tigers!

How’s life in Dubai?

I can’t complain about life in Dubai, it’s been 12 years in the Middle East so pretty settled here right now and I recon I’ll be around the UAE for a bit longer!

What was the last brunch you went on?

Oktoberfest down at the Hyatt. A decent set up there.

Do you have any hidden talents?

Non that the general public need to know about!

What are the best things about Tigers?

It’s a great club, and an environment where rugby is the reason we show up week in week out, but there is also an understanding that family and work come first because that’s why people are here and it seems to be working well for us.

Who do you listen to to get pumped for a match?

Not much of a music man pre match to be fair, if it all, I’ll blast some sounds from back home, Six60, Fiji, Herbs, Katchafire.

Dubai Rugby 7s 2018 Messages From Famous faces

We’re lucky enough to have received some good luck messages ahead of this years Dubai Rugby 7s which will be taking place at the end of the month. This year we have again entered a team into the Gulf Mens Open tournament, having previously finished quarter finalists and semi finalists respectively.

Who will you be supporting at this years Dubai Rugby Sevens? There’s only one team you need to follow… according to some of our legendary fans!!! Click the videos below to hear what they have to say.

Maro Itoje

British & Irish Lions, England and Saracens Forward

Danny Care

England and Harlequins Scrum Half

Billy Vunipola

British & Irish Lions, England and Saracens Prop Forward

Joe Marler

British & Irish Lions, England and Harlequins Prop Forward

George Ford

England and Leicester Tigers Fly Half

Gulf Rugby Roundup Week 7

gulf rugby roundup

This week’s Gulf rugby roundup, from our resident wordsmith – Huw Harrow.

Jump right in…

Dragons 2s - Team of The Week

Team of the Week – Jebel Ali Dragons 2s

Results might not be going the way of Jebel Ali’s 1s outfit as they look to defend their West Asia Premiership crown, but there is clearly significant strength in depth at the club with their 2s and 3s boasting a record for P9 W9 across the Conference and Community divisions. At 2s level the start to the season has been particularly impressive, racking up six wins on the bounce (five with a bonus point) and continued their winning ways this weekend comfortably seeing off Harlequins 2s 36-12 in what looked a banana skin fixture away at Zayed Sports City. Six points clear at the top of their group, the performances of this second string may bring about some interesting selection discussions for Mike Phillips in weeks to come.

eagles vs bahrain

West Asia Premiership

We wrote last week that there is clearly a good bit of momentum building in Bahrain this season and a crushing 88-7 win over Dubai Eagles this weekend will have done little to stop that. Yes the Eagles may be without a win so far this season, but they have not been blown away to that extent in any of their fixtures, especially not at home. Given the emphatic nature of that result it was key for Abu Dhabi Harlequins to respond and keep up in the title hunt, which they did via a convincing 38-20 home win over Jebel Ali Dragons. That defeat sees Dragons slip to second bottom in the table after Dubai Hurricanes produced another impressive result to overcome Dubai Exiles at the Sevens and find themselves in the lofty position of third as a result. Exiles have now lost three in a row after a promising start and face a daunting trip away to Bahrain next weekend.

tigers rugby


All things pretty much went to form in the Conference fixtures although there were a couple of nail biters with Dubai Tigers and Hurricanes 2s being pushed all the way. Canes held on for a 36-34 win to complete a double for the club over Exiles this weekend while reigning champions Tigers keep finding a way to win this season, edging out Abu Dhabi Saracens by a single late score at Al Ghazal. There were more routine victories for Al Ain Amblers in a typically high scoring encounter with Dubai Sharks and Dragons 2s away at Harlequins.

barrelhouse rugby players


Barrelhouse remain unbeaten after another convincing win over Amblers 2s but the plaudits must go to Tigers 2s for their first competitive win (excluding forfeits), 17-12 over last season’s champions Harlequins 3s. Otherwise it was a quiet weekend of Community rugby due to to the fixture between RAK and Dragons being postponed and the Shaheen forfeiting their game against Sharks 2s.

DSC Eagles ladies Rugby

Womens Sevens Series

It was business as usual in week three of the Women’s Sevens League as DSC Eagles took home their third straight win and still remain unbeaten. They don’t seem to be showing much sign of slowing down either, recording 192 points across their fixtures this weekend, the highest total of any round so far. Dubai Hurricanes and Al Ain Amblers once again provided the closest challenge finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively at the tournament hosted in Al Ain. Judging by the after party photos, the Amblers ladies certainly know how to throw an event – we’ll be hoping to join them when they next host the Womens Sevens Series.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Latest Gulf Rugby Roundup From Week 6

gulf rugby roundup

All the latest from a high scoring week of Premiership and Conference action.

Jump right in…

bahrain Rugby Club - Yalla Rugby Team of the Week

Team of the Week – Bahrain

We may be the home of Emirates Rugby but we like to give credit where it’s due. This week’s Team Of The Week award goes across the Gulf to Bahrain after the men in red secured a bonus point home victory in their top of the table clash with Abu Dhabi Harlequins on Friday night. They open up a four point gap at the top of the standings and will be confident of consolidating their position with a trip to winless DSC Eagles up next. Always a tough nut to crack in front of their vociferous home support, Bahrain have added a greater degree of consistency to their performances this year with two wins out of three on the road. With the league’s most miserly defence and a home ground fortress – if Bahrain can add the sort of attacking fluency they demonstrated in this 39-20 win over Harlequins on a regular basis, they will take a lot of stopping this year.

premiership rugby dragons exiles

West Asia Premiership

There was plenty of excitement outside of the top two this week with Premiership games averaging 66 points per match, perhaps heralded by the arrival of cooler winter conditions in the Gulf this week. Jebel Ali Dragons continued their resurgence with a 45-36 win over Dubai Exiles, though the bonus point gained by Exiles keeps them ahead of their city rivals in the table. It was heartbreak for the Dubai Eagles in their quest for an elusive first win, edged out by just two points by Dubai Hurricanes at the Sevens.

dubai eagles conference rugby


The Hurricanes-Eagles rivalry also served up a classic in the Conference at 2nd team level, but this time it was the new boys coming away with the narrowest of wins 38-37 giving them their first win of the season. Hurricanes’ slip up saw Dragons 2s move further clear at the top of the group, maintaining their unbeaten record and putting 55 points on the board over Exiles 2s in the process. In the other pool, Abu Dhabi Saracens missed the chance to close the gap of Dubai Tigers coming unstuck 24-15 away to Al Ain Amblers. Dubai Sharks completed a double over Arabian Knights in the weeks other fixture.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Nick Young – Annual Golf Day

rak rugby nick young annual golf day 2018

Nick Young Annual Golf Day

16th November 2018

Tower Links Golf Club, Ras Al Khaimah
Registration and payment open 11:00 / Shotgun start / T-Off from 12:30 onwards

AED 375 per person (cash only) including BBQ, beverages, prize giving ceremony and live entertainment until late.

For team reservations and further information call:
Simon Williams – 056 138 4379
Galvin McKechnie – 050 536 8676

Nick Young – Annual Golf Event to be held in his memory

As most of you know, during last season’s Sharjah 10’s tournament, RAK Rugby player Nick Young died playing a sport that he loved. Another sport Nick was an avid fan of was golf! RAK Rugby Club will be honouring Nick with an annual golf event held at Tower Links Golf Course in Ras Al Khaimah. RAK RFC are hoping to raise funds for Nick’s family back home in Australia as they couldn’t claim on his company insurance.

The annual golf event is also a chance for the rugby community and Nick’s friends to come together to remember a great man and have some fun in the name of a good cause. In addition to the golf, at the end of the rugby season there will be a Nick Young Trophy rugby fixture between the Arabian Knights and RAK Rugby Club, as Nick was playing in a combined Knights/RAK team at Sharjah when the fatal incident occurred.

The Golf Day event will be held at Tower Links on the 16th November 2018 and is open to anyone interested, with the aim to have 72 players and all their friends and family along to enjoy as well as raise some money (and a toast) to Nick.

Anyone interested please contact Galvin McKechnie on 050 536 8676 or mail to

Gulf Rugby Weekly Roundup 30.10.18

gulf rugby roundup

This week’s action across the Gulf rugby scene, including for the first time a look at the women’s sevens league.

Jump right in…

Dubai Eagles rugby team of the week

Team of the Week – DSC Eagles Women

On current form the Eagles ladies would have a claim to be one of the most dominant sports teams in the Middle East in any sport. The reigning Womens Rugby Sevens Series and Dubai 7s champions swept to victory this week in round two of this year’s competition, just as they did in round one. Eagles did at least concede points this week with runners up Dubai Hurricanes and the Dubai Cones managing to cross the whitewash against them, a feat not achieved by any side in the opening round.

abu dhabi harlequins first team premiership rugby

West Asia Premiership

Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Bahrain continue to set the early pace, both recording impressive wins this weekend. Quins gained revenge for their UAE Premiership final loss to Exiles with a 44-20 win at The Sevens Stadium, while Bahrain comfortably saw off Dubai Hurricanes at home. Jebel Ali Dragons halted their recent slump but were made to work hard by DSC Eagles. The top two meet in what promises to be a crunch fixture next week.

saracens conference rugby player


Just three fixtures were recorded in this round of Conference games as Exiles 2s were forced to forfeit during their fixture against Quins 2s due to injury woes in the 67th minute. All other matches went as the formbook might have suggested. Dubai Tigers 1s and Abu Dhabi Saracens 1s notched comfortable wins over Al Ain Amblers 1s and Arabian Knights respectively to cement their positions at the head of their group. Dragons 2s remain unbeaten but much as in the corresponding 1s fixture, did not have it all their own way in getting past Eagles 2s 27-19.

rak vs sharks


A further three games at Community level where Barrelhouse and Jebel Ali Dragons 3s maintained their unbeaten records, Barrelhouse impressing again in seeing off reigning champions Abu Dhabi Harlequins 3s 29-7. Quins slip to fourth in the standings behind RAK who saw off Sharks 2s.

rak womens rugby b-league winners

Womens Sevens Series

Round two of the womens sevens league, hosted by Hurricanes, saw no fewer than 30 matches take place on an action packed day at the Sevens. A full round robin A League and B league were completed with six sides competing in each. DSC Eagles continued their stranglehold on the women’s game in winning League A and remain unbeaten this year.

League B was a much tighter affair with RAK and Sharjah emerging as the two stand out sides, in what was both of their first league appearances of the season. RAK emerged victorious with just conversion splitting the sides in a 12-10 decider.

Article by: Huw Harrow

RAK Rugby’s – Gloria Patil Has A Choosday Chat

Gloria Patil with RAK team mates – front row, second from the right.

RAK Rugby Club Ladies Prop Gloria Patil talks phobias, dream dinner guests and Rocky Balboa!


Age: 28
Born: Mumbai, India
Club: RAK Rugby Club
Position: Prop/Hooker
Height: 152cm

“It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

Do you have any nicknames?

I get ‘Glo’, ‘Glory’ and nowadays some of my teammates call me ‘Baby Dinosaur’ as I’m short but tough on those tackles made on the rugby field!

What do you get up to in your spare time?

Workout, Eat, Sleep and watch some series or movies on Netflix.

Do you have any phobias?

Yes, I’m an acrophobic…petrified of heights!!!

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

Any day with my fiancé. [YR – Awwwww]

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

Jane Leonard. She’s funny and at the same time an absolute beast on the field.

Do you have any hidden talents?

Well, I guess they’re still hidden…

What do you miss most about India?

My mom, my fiancé, Leo – my dog and the chaos in Mumbai. Here in RAK it’s too quiet and I am so used to the chaos of India.

What annoys you?

Having to wake up at early each morning.

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

Orlagh, Kylie Minogue, Virginia and our coach – Craig are all good motivators to get me pumped before a big game.

Who’s the best dancer in the RAK Ladies squad?

Well that has to be Briana, she dances very well.

What are the best things about RAK Rugby Club?

The respect and togetherness I get from my teammates and the friendships I’ve made within the team, and also our coach.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

Richie McCaw – All Blacks Rugby Player, John Abraham – Bollywood Actor and Sunny Leone – Bollywood Actress.

How’s life in the UAE?

It’s just been 2 months since I moved here, so far it is going great. The best time is when I have rugby training with the squad and match days… It’s the highlight of my week!

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

I started playing rugby because of some of some friends in college back in 2009. I was the only one who continued to play after college after all my friends stopped playing. I love rugby due to the physicality of the game. In the words of the great Rocky Balboa – “It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

Alex Lee From The Dragons Has A Choosday Chat

Alex Lee from Jebel Ali Dragons RFC

Jebel Ali Dragons Scrum Half Alex Lee talks dislocations, potato sack fashion and life with the Dragons in Dubai


Age: 31
Born: Hong Kong (But I’m not Chinese despite my last name!!!)
Club: Jebel Ali Dragons
Position: Scrum Half
Height: 178cm… Down hill, with the wind behind me.
Weight: 83kg

“The club and all the boys in it have absolutely helped me. Whether they know it or not!”

Do you have any nicknames?

Just Al. Short for Alex but also because it’s my initials.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

Gym, paddle boarding, drink coffee, people watching, McGettigans, Barasti, Rock Bottoms and Netflix. I’ve just finished ‘The Sinner’ the other day. Although Jessica Biel is easy on the eye it’s pretty disturbing. Good though!

Do you have any phobias?

Seeing joint dislocations usually makes me feel sick.

What do you miss most about England?

Even after 5 years there’s something not right about going to work on a Sunday. I miss a good roast and a pint in a decent pub!

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

Jimmy Saville. Jim’ll fix it and get us out.

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

I can’t remember initially but watching the likes of Lawrence Dallaglio, Neil Back, Mike Catt, Martin Johnson and a young Jonny Wilkinson etc back in 1998 definitely inspired me. I remember going down to Twickenham that year, which is a long way from Fleetwood, to watch England v Australia and remember the atmosphere being unreal.

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

Paul Hart. He’s an absolute stalwart, evergreen. He tried to retire this season but he’s just done 80mins in the front row for the 1s XV last weekend. Massive shout out to his wife for letting us have him back!

Who has the worst Dress sense?

Probably our Chairman, Quinney. Despite the constant abuse he likes to regularly don a t-shirt that can only be described as a potato sack. Although saying that there was a pair of purple loafers left at training one night but no one claimed them funnily enough.

Who do you listen to to get pumped for a match?

Usually something chilled like Ben Howard in the car on the way, then Artic Monkey’s in the changing rooms.

Who’s the tightest?

I’ve been told by Matty Henry’s girlfriend he’s pretty tight…

How’s life in Dubai?

People have this preconception of Dubai being very extravagant etc but it’s very much what you make of it. Expat rugby attracts people from so many different backgrounds that you may not otherwise meet out here and our club is very much a family, as cliche as that sounds. So being part of the Dragons makes life out here good. I also work with the UAE Military so this has taken me all over the UAE. Places that people otherwise wouldn’t go to and meeting some very interesting people.

What was the last brunch you went on?

Wanderlust. We’d just lost to ‘Canes the night before so needed to forget that!

Do you have any hidden talents?

Yeh rugby. I’m actually really good but keep it really well hidden.

What are the best things about Dragons?

As I mentioned before about us being a mix of people from different backgrounds, it has to be the people. Otherwise there’s no club. We have a great culture that has definitely evolved over the 5 seasons I’ve been involved.

Being an expat can be tough at times and when life throws some pretty sh*t things at you, it can be even harder. There’s a big awareness of mental health at the minute which I think is great, and I can honestly say that when I lost everything back home, the club and all the boys in it have absolutely helped me. Whether they know it or not. Having a culture that is inclusive of life off the pitch is so important and we’ve got that in abundance. You can guarantee there’s always buy-in whether it’s conditioning work in pre season or a Christmas brunch. There’s a lot of new faces this season and they have definitely become a great part of that. The kit Tsunami provide for us is pretty cool as well! Stops Quinney wearing his potato top for a day anyway!

Mr Lee… it’s been an absolute pleasure. [YR]

Yalla Rugby Week 3-4 Roundup

gulf rugby roundup

The latest from across all three divisions in the UAE as the season begins to take shape.

Jump right in…

Dubai Hurricanes 1st XV, Team Of The Week 15-10-18

Team of the Week – Dubai Hurricanes 1s

They may not have won this weekend and sit just fourth in the West Asia Premiership table but the last two weeks have shown signs of significant improvement for the Dubai Hurricanes. Having failed to register a win against any of the top four throughout last season’s campaign, they have got that monkey off their back at the second attempt this time round, easing to a 27-11 win over Jebel Ali Dragons in Week 3. Followed up by a not at all un-respectable display away to Abu Dhabi Harlequins this weekend, Canes have served notice to the big guns that they intend to have a much greater say in proceedings this year.

dubai exiles west asia premiership

West Asia Premiership

It is nip and tuck at the top of the West Asia Premiership table with no side left unbeaten after four rounds and all signs suggest we have a very open title race to look forward to. Dubai Exiles hold top spot on points difference, having strung three wins together after their opening night loss to the Dragons. Bahrain claimed arguably this weekend’s standout result in coming away from Jebel Ali with a 13-9 scalp. The Dragons, having lost two in a row, will be glad to face bottom side DSC Eagles next week and will want to be sure not to slip up to avoid falling adrift from the pace setters.

dubai sharks conference rugby


The next round of games will give us a clearer picture of the Conference standings as each side completes its first round of group fixtures. The fixture between Dubai Tigers and Al Ain Amblers looks particularly enticing, with both sides highest placed in their group and having put up big scores in recent wins over Arabian Knights. Tigers did not have it all their own way however in a see-saw 46-43 win over traditional local rivals Dubai Sharks two weeks ago. The Sharks are another side looking much improved this season having also been competitive in defeat this weekend away to Abu Dhabi Saracens. In the other group, Dragons 2s can complete the opening round undefeated if, as the formbook suggests, they can overcome Eagles 2s next week. Hurricanes 2s currently sit top of that group, having played a game more, coming away with an impressive 35-29 from Zayed Sport City against Harlequins 2s.

ras al khaimah rugby club RAK


Just one round of games since our last update. Holders Harlequins 3s and RAK Rugby recorded hard fought wins over Amblers 2s and Tigers 2s respectively but Dragons 3s currently sit top of the pile after putting up something of a cricket score against a struggling Sharks 2s. Newcomers Barrelhouse were left with a rest this week as Shaheen forfeited their game due to Arab Rugby competition in Cairo for the National 7s squad.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Barrelhouse Coach Taylor Hamilton’s Choosday Chat

Taylor Hamilton Choosday Chat

Barrelhouse Fullback Taylor Hamilton talks about noisy eaters, hiding evidence and an inspirational teacher.


Age: 27
Born: Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Club: Barrelhouse RFC
Position: Fullback
Height: 187cm
Weight: 82kg

“Smart giants in the front and fast silky feet in the back.”

Do you have any nicknames?

The Barrelhouse boys have given me the nickname of ‘Butters’, obviously it’s because of my slick passing!

What annoys you?

I can’t stand the noise of people eating.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

Between running a rugby club and a new business, you’ll usually find me at the local beach or hitting the gym.

Who are the jokers at Barrelhouse?

The jokers are definitely Ryall and Kurt. They’re always great craic.

Do you have any phobias?

Just the eating thing as above!

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

Probably PJ. The boy could easily play pro rugby!

What’s your guilty pleasure?

There’s nothing better than eating a full family pack of crisps and then hiding the evidence.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I Would like to say I can impress on the dance floor. But I’ve recently seen some videos, and now I’m not so sure.

Who has the worst Dress sense?

Matt Rubin, I’ve never seen him with anything other than shorts and a pair of Air Max.

Who do you listen to to get pumped for a match?

I love blasting System of a down just before a big game. It totally gets me in the zone!

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

Probably my primary school coach, Paul Austin inspired me the most as a kid to play rugby.

What are the best things about Barrelhouse?

The camaraderie and brotherhood is like nothing we’ve had before. It’s a team topped with ‘smart giants’ in the front and fast ‘silky feet’ in the back.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

I’d love to have a sit down with Jonny Wilkinson, Jeremy Clarkson and Eminem.

What was the last takeaway you ordered?

It has to be Projeto Açaí. If you’re into your healthy food, you can’t go wrong!!!

Choosday Chat With Knights Scrum Half Shane Narara

Shane Narara Arabian Knights Rugby Club

Arabian Knights Scrum Half Shane Narara talks about useless facts, island life and scented bubble baths.


Age: 28
Born: Lae, Papua New Guinea
Club: Arabian Knights RFC
Position: Scrum Half
Height: 168cm
Weight: 82kg

“I learned a lot of capital cities and useless facts growing up.”

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

Being from PNG it has to be rugby league with the NRL and State of Origin. Queenslander!!

Do you have any nicknames?

The standard ‘Shano’.

What was the last brunch you went on?

I can’t really remember hahah. Possibly McGettigan’s.

What are the best things about Knights?

The culture and ethos, and of course the Orange!

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

Teleportation I reckon, because my side step’s not that great.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I play a bit of guitar…well, try to anyway.

What do you miss most about PNG?

I miss the laid back, simple island life, and the natural scenic beauty.

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

Maybe Geography. I learned a lot of capital cities and useless facts growing up. [YR – We asked Shane for a useless fact: that Africa is the only continent which is located in all four hemispheres!]

Do you have any phobias?

It’d be between spiders and drunk people with buzz clippers!

Who are the jokers at The Knights?

Definitely Luke Spiteri – “The Dragin” (correct spelling… ask Luke why when you see him next!!) and Willy Njoya.

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

Either Charlie Willis (the captain), or Samson Narokobi. They’re both beasts on the playing field.

Who do you listen to to get pumped for a match?

Some Foo Fighters or Tool.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

Probably Dave Chapelle, Dan Carter and Eric Clapton.

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

That’s a tough one mate. I don’t know, I guess just to enjoy the finer things in life; you know, like nice long walks on the beach, scented bubble baths, and a cold pint of Guinness. [YR – Who doesn’t like a nice scented bubble bath?]

Gulf Rugby Week 1-2 Round Up

gulf rugby roundup

We welcome back our resident wordsmith, Huw Harrow as he brings us a combo sized rugby roundup of action from Week 1 & 2.

Jump right in…

barrelhouse rugby club

Team of the Week – Powerhouse Barrelhouse

With news of clubs being forced to leave the circuit a common theme in recent seasons, the arrival of Barrelhouse on the scene is a reason to be cheerful. This weekend marked the club’s competitive UAE XVs debut, and they announced themselves in some style with a 56-10 win over Dubai Tigers 2s. A performance built around old-fashioned forward dominance overwhelmed their visitors at Jebel Ali, in what was also a landmark fixture for the Tigers as their first competitive outing for their second string. Nonetheless a result that will make the established order in the Community league sit up and take notice.

Bahrain vs Eagles


Bahrain have been the big winners over the first two weeks of Premiership action and are the only side to maintain an unbeaten record after opening the season with an impressive away victory over Abu Dhabi Harlequins and seeing off the DSC Eagles this weekend. The Eagles look set to face a challenging second season in the top flight having been edged out 13-20 on home soil by Dubai Hurricanes in their season opener, a match that on paper they would have targeted for a victory. In the clash of last season’s West Asia and UAE Champions, Jebel Ali Dragons were winners over Dubai Exiles, only for the Dragons to be in turned down on home turf against a resurgent Harlequins by a surprising scoreline of 22-46. Early indications suggest this promises to be an intriguing season.

saracens vs tigers


The UAE Conference starts off split into two groups this year (read our season preview for more) and early standings offer a very different picture in each group. Group A, featuring Premiership 2s outfits has both Hurricanes and Dragons two from two, with Harlequins, Eagles and Exiles yet to record a competitive win. Meanwhile in Group B there is nothing to choose between the Dubai Tigers, Abu Dhabi Saracens, Dubai Sharks and Al Ain Amblers with all having registered one win apiece. Holders Tigers began their defence with a hard fought 27-17 win over Saracens.

amblers vs sharks


The UAE Community league also got underway this weekend and aside from Barrelhouse’s eye catching result, there were also big wins for Amblers 2s and Dragons 3s over Sharks 2s and Shaheen respectively. It is good to see the Shaheen back in action and despite a heavy opening defeat against last season’s beaten finalists, they will hope for better fortune in weeks to come. The tie of the round was played out at Zayed Sports City with reigning champions Harlequins 3s pushed all the way by RAK in recording a 31-26 win.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Yalla Rugby Sign New Partnership With Gulf Rugby Management

Alex johnson - Yalla Rugby Founder

Yalla Rugby are delighted to announce that we have been selected as the official media and results partner for Gulf Rugby for the 2018/19 season. Gulf Rugby Management is a new organisation that is part of Emirates Airline – responsible for managing all competitive Mens, Women’s, Schools and Mini & Youth competitions in the UAE.

Operating out of The Sevens Stadium the Gulf Rugby Management team have been looking at ways to manage the publication of results, choosing Yalla Rugby as the obvious choice to be the official media partner. Under the new partnership, Gulf Rugby Management and Yalla Rugby will be hoping to increase the already huge interest in rugby union here in the UAE.

Yalla Rugby will be first to publish all official match fixtures and results and league table standings for the season. Founder of Yalla Rugby, Alex Johnson said;

“I’m really looking forward to the season ahead. I think the additional exposure that Yalla Rugby and Gulf Rugby Management will bring will be great for rugby here in the Middle East.”


Ghaith Jalajel with Alex Johnson and Stephen McCafferty from Gulf Rugby Management

Ghaith Jalajel with Alex Johnson and Stephen McCafferty from Gulf Rugby Management

Jim Fitzsimons, Manager of Gulf Rugby Management said;

“It was clear from our early conversations with Alex that his commitment and dedication to providing a first class service on the reporting of results and coverage of UAE rugby matches was just what we wanted. We are delighted to be working with him to help get timely publication of results and fixtures, including all Mini & Youth fixtures’.

It is sure to be a busy season again for rugby in the UAE and the Gulf. For all the latest news and results don’t forget to follow Yalla Rugby and check in every Friday night for the first look at the weekend results and every Sunday for confirmed results and table standings.

Choosday Chat With UAE Referee Jaco de Wit


Jaco de Wit - UAE Rugby Referee

Referee Jaco de Wit talks Sushi, Golf and the Big C with us.


Age: 27
Born: Prince Albert, South Africa
Level: World Rugby Level 3

“Keeping up with play and his holiday diet… now that’s impressive!”

How’s life in Dubai?

Life is busy, but Dubai is such a great place and full of opportunities.

What’s the best thing about being a UAE referee?

The best thing is being part of improving UAE rugby as a whole and the Dubai 7s is always a special occasion for me.

Do you have any phobias?

Apparently nomophobia (being without my mobile).

What do you get up to in your spare time?

I love playing golf and playing on Fifa.

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

Any international prop… let’s talk scrum time!!

Do you have any nicknames?

Yeah, I get Jakes a lot.

What’s your favourite type of food?

Bring me Salmon Sashimi… I could have Sushi everyday.

If you could be one of the other UAERF referees, who would it be and why?

Norman Drake, keeping up with play and his holiday diet… now that’s impressive!

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

I’d like to be successful in whatever I do and along the way hopefully inspire people to be the best that they can be.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I’m not too bad at hitting little white balls with an iron stick.

What was the last brunch you went on?

Caramel’s Saturday Brunch. Good wine and the food was not too bad!

What do you miss most about South Africa?

I really miss the farm that I grew up on and Karoo lamb chops.

Do you have any tattoos?

Not yet!

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

Tiger Woods, he can tell me all about comebacks. Cristiano Ronaldo, he can share his knowledge of hard work and Jessica Alba, because you have to have some beauty at the table.

Cheers, Jaco. Jaco de Wit is a cancer survivor which unfortunately ended his playing days.

“I obviously had a love for rugby and picking up the whistle was the perfect way of being part of this amazing sport”.

Jaco is one of the UAE Rugby Referees and earlier this year he represented the UAE on the global stage at the Singapore 7s! If you would like to become a UAE rugby ref, then click the button below.

Your Gulf Rugby 2018/19 Season Preview

gulf rugby season preview 2018

2018/19 Gulf Rugby Season Preview

The start of the 2018/19 Gulf Rugby season is now upon us and with pre-season in full swing at most of the nation’s rugby clubs, it’s time to look ahead at the action in store for us and see how all of the domestic league competitions are shaping up. The summer has not been without its usual period of change as clubs come to terms with the usual spate of player arrivals and departures. Here’s what we know about how things will line up this season.

Jump Right In

UAE/West Asia Premiership

West Asia Premiership season 2018-19

UAE Premiership season 2018-19

Holders: Jebel Ali Dragons (West Asia) and Dubai Exiles (UAE)

Format: A straight league set up with all sides playing each other home and away over three rounds (Home, Away, Home). The champions of the West Asia Premiership will be decided between the top four teams after all league rounds are complete via playoff semi finals and final. Likewise, the top four UAE based outfits (discarding results against Bahrain) will have a semi final playoff to see who will play on finals day for the right to be crowned UAE Premiership Champions.

Ins and Outs: After a difficult season which saw them finish bottom of the pile with only one win, Abu Dhabi Saracens have decided to be relegated to the Conference league this year as they embark on a rebuilding phase.

UAE/West Asia Premiership Teams

Bahrain, Dragons, Eagles, Exiles, Harlequins Hurricanes

UAE Conference

UAE conference season preview 2018-19

Holders: Dubai Tigers

Format: Pay attention because things are about to get a little complicated in the second tier of Gulf rugby!

The ten UAE Conference sides have been split into two groups who will each play home and away fixtures during the first half of the season. Group A are formed of all UAE Premiership represented clubs and Group B are all other UAE rugby clubs. They will all fall under one league table this year with no split league as seen in previous years.

Part two of the season will see the sides face opposition from outside their group but only once. Points earned are added to their initial group totals. The season then culminates with the top two sides from each group entering the knockout stages with the Conference final scheduled for the end of March 2019.

UAE Conference Teams

Group A:
Harlequins 2s, Eagles 2s, Exiles 2s, Hurricanes 2s, Dragons 2s

Group B:
Amblers, Saracens, Knights, Sharks, Tigers

Ins and Outs: The Conference league was dealt a blow this week with the withdrawal of last season’s runners up and one of the UAE’s oldest rugby clubs, Sharjah Wanderers, citing lack of numbers. They will be replaced by the Dubai Eagles 2s who played their first season of Community rugby last year. Abu Dhabi Saracens 1s have dropped down from the UAE and will only field one team this season.

UAE Community

UAE Community season preview 2018-19

Holders: Abu Dhabi Harlequins 3s

Format: An initial league stage with each side playing each other once, aiming to secure a top two finish and a place at finals day where the champions will be decided.

Ins and Outs: Unsurprisingly for a league that fluctuated in size over the course of last season, the UAE Community rugby competition has seen its fair share of off-season activity. Barrelhouse, a club that is well established on the 7s circuit, make a welcome league debut whilst the Shaheen have also signalled an intent to return to the competition this year. Dubai Tigers’ expanding squad size sees them enter a 2s team for the first time. The Dubai Hurricanes will not field a 3rd team this year so will not participate in Community rugby. Disappointment comes in the shape of the Beaver Nomads, traditionally a team to beat at Community level, being forced to withdraw from this year’s competition.

UAE Community Teams

Amblers 2s, Barrelhouse 1s, Dragons 3s, Harlequins 3s, RAK 1s, Shaheen 1s, Sharks 2s, Tigers 2s

uae womens rugby season preview 2018

Womens Rugby

Holders: Dubai Eagles

Format: We’ll be doing a dedicated Womens Rugby article closer to their first set of fixtures (5th October), but to give you an idea of what to expect this season, there will be eight rounds of rugby where we’ll see Sevens rugby played at Harlequins, Hurricanes, Amblers, Saracens, Sharjah, Tigers and finally Eagles.

This season, there will be an invitational 15-a-side match held on finals day at The Sevens Stadium, alongside the other mens rugby Premiership, Conference and Community league finals which will be held on the 29th March 2019 which should bring the close to the season to an exciting climax this year with all levels featured on the final day.

uae mini youth rugby season preview 2018

Mini & Junior Rugby

This season we will hopefully see the Mini and Youth Rugby results and league tables featured for the first time on the website. We’re really looking forward to bringing you as much of the rugby action as possible here in the Middle East, so be sure to check back on a weekly basis.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Choosday Chat With Exiles Centre Alice Luckhurst

Alice Luckhurst Dubai exiles u18s gurls

Dubai Exiles U18’s Centre Alice Luckhurst talks travel, tongue skills and the All Black Ferns


Age: 16
Born: Dubai, UAE
Club: Dubai Exiles
Position: Centre
Height: 169cm

“They lifted our players onto their shoulders for photos, it was really cool.”

What’s been your proudest moment playing rugby in Dubai?

Winning every tournament in the season when I played touch U15’s rugby for the Dubai Exiles.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

In my spare time I like to see friends, go to the beach and do some Wakeboarding and hit the gym.

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

When we trained with the Black Ferns (All Blacks Ladies 7s team) rugby squad before last years Dubai 7s, they lifted our players onto their shoulders for photos, it was really cool!

Do you have any phobias?

Crunching! I hate hearing people eat, especially crisps.

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

I’d love to be able to fly, so I could beat all the traffic!

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

It would be Sami Dronfield. She’s an all round amazing player. Skilful, fast powerful, strong and talented!

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

To graduate, get a degree and to travel the world!

Do you have any hidden talents?

Yes, I can fold my tongue into 3. Most people curl their tongue at the front but I can do the sides as well!

Who does the cooking at home?

Mum and Dad usually but my brothers and I enjoy cooking too, especially sushi.

What do you miss most about England?

Family mainly, but I don’t miss that much as I was born here so I see Dubai as my home.

Who’s the best dancer in the Exiles team.

Sophie Millward, she’s got all the moves.

What are the best things about playing for the Exiles?

The best thing about being a member of the Exiles RFC is the social events that happen throughout the year and everyone gets on well with each other. It’s fun and not too serious.

Concussion Baseline Testing – WHY?

concussion management in rugby

Concussion In Young Rugby Players

Ok, so it’s the start of the new rugby season here in the UAE. That means bodies are ready for some hi impact cuddles and the inevitable knock to the head!

Concussion remains a condition that in many cases continues to go undetected. Join us on the 17th September at Dubai College for an important FREE educational talk on managing concussion in young players. This talk is a must-attend event for Parents, Coaches, First-Aiders or anyone involved in a sport where there is a risk of Concussion. Be sure to sign up early as seats are limited.

With a quick search on Google, the pros to why you should get a Baseline Test for Rugby makes for interesting reading. If the Baseline Test is done, it helps healthcare professionals make comparisons to your own Baseline to guide them through post injury management and safe return to sport.

concussion baseline testing

So, have you been affected by a concussion? Are you aware of the recovery process?

How about you come along to an education Event at Dubai College on Monday night 17 September from 18:00-20:00 and find out how you can get a baseline test. It will be split into two sessions, each 1 hour long.

Even if you attend just to have an enlightening conversation with everyone and ensure that all athletes are well prepared for a safe rugby season!

“The Wanderer’s (WON’T) Return”

Sharjah Wanderers withdraw from expat rugby conference league

Sharjah Wanderers Withdraw From Expat Conference Rugby

The 2015/16 UAE Conference winners, Sharjah Wanderers will not be playing Expat Conference rugby this season. In a statement made on social media by the rugby club, they have announced that their men’s 1st XV squad will not be putting a team together this season.

The ‘Wandies’ have had to withdraw from rugby this year. The only representing club of the Emirate of Sharjah has always been the team to beat in the Conference league. Winners of the title in 2015/16, semi finalists in 2016/17 and finalists in 2017/18, just missing out to a sudden death try against the Dubai Tigers on finals day down at Dubai Sports City. Wanderers Chairman, Shane Breen pointed to a decline in player numbers with the squad no longer able to compete at the level required for Conference rugby. Breen said,

“At the end of last season we lost over half of our squad, mostly due to guys relocating or taking some time away from rugby.”

Sharjah Wanderers champions 2015

The Wanderers are not alone in their struggle this pre season as we have also witnessed the likes of Saracens dropping from the Premiership and the Beaver Nomads withdrawing from Community level rugby.

“This definitely isn’t the last you’ll see of the Wandies men’s team who’ll still be competing in the Dubai Sevens and other social competitions throughout the year.”

They have assured us though that they will be back next season (2019/20) and will be participating in this years Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens competition which will be held at The Sevens Stadium on the 29th November.

We’d like to take this opportunity to wish the Wanderers all the best in their comeback and feel they will be a miss in local rugby this year.

Choosday Chat With Sharks Hooker Armel van Erck

Dubai Sharks hooker Armel van Erck

Dubai Sharks hooker Armel van Erck talks mind reading, broken noses and secret tattoos


Age: 40
Born: Brussels, Belgium
Club: Dubai Sharks
Position: Hooker
Height: 174cm
Weight: 98kg

“He tried to tackle a bloke with his nose, which ended up getting broken.”

Do you have any nicknames?

I have many… Shorty, Fatty, and Belgie seem to be the most frequent ones used in the changing room!

What do you get up to in your spare time?

Coaching kids’ rugby, cycling, and spending time with my boy, which is the best thing in the world.

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

A few years ago, our fullback – Robbo, tried to tackle a bloke with his nose, which ended up getting broken in the process. There is even a picture showing him in mid air with only his nose touching the guy’s heel. [YR – Look what we found!]

broken nose tackle dubai sharks

Do you have any phobias?

I have an irrepressible fear of heights, which is going to make many people chuckle…

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

I’d love to be able to read people’s minds!

Do you have any hidden talents?

I can cook up a pretty good dinner!

Who has the worst dress sense at the Dubai Sharks?

Definitely Philip Smurthwaite (Smurf).

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

Probably Dan Griffiths, just to see how life is as a short, fat, angry bloke.

Who does the cooking at home?

Easy. Me. I’m the best at cooking in the house.

What do you miss most about Belgium

The forests and the lakes around where I live, the incredible Belgian food, and obviously, my family.

Do you have any tattoos?

Yes. Enough said. [YR – Must be the French flag!!]

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

Barack Obama, Sandra Bullock and Sebastian Chabal.

How’s life in Dubai?

Life in Dubai is great! Rugby plays a big part in making life so good here! I’ve made lots of great friendships over the past 13 years that I’ve spent here too.