UAE Expat Rugby News

UAE olympic rugby 7s team


UAE Olympic Rugby 7s Dream

Dubai Airports’ three-year long sponsorship of UAE Rugby Federation’s Shaheen all-Emirati Rugby programme is paying huge dividends for the team and the sport by boosting participation levels tenfold, improving fitness levels and fuelling the team’s drive to support the UAE Olympic 7’s dream.

“Dubai Airports’ support of UAE Rugby’s Shaheen programme changed the lives of those who have been involved”

The Shaheen Rugby Development programme started with the support of Dubai Airports in 2014 and is responsible for a key Emirati element of the UAE Rugby Development and Performance Pathway. The programme, which commenced with 20 Emirati players who had no real rugby background, now boasts over 250 players aged 16 or over. Shaheen is the Emirati development squad for the UAE national rugby teams.

“Dubai Airports’ support of UAE Rugby’s Shaheen programme changed the lives of those who have been involved, and have created role models for others to follow,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum – Chairman UAE Rugby.

“It has been a huge success story and not only in terms of the growing number of participants,” said Qais Al Dhalai, Secretary General UAE Rugby Federation. “The enthusiasm of the group, love of the game, improving skills and fitness levels are also important success factors. Dubai Airports’ sponsorship and influence not only touches the players, but their family and friends. We estimate since the start of the programme over 420 different individual players which have been involved in the Shaheen programme and over 2,000 Emirati family and friends have also been exposed to the sport as a result.”

Al Dhalai added that players have benefited from weight loss and a more active lifestyle thanks to Shaheen’s structured programme with resources.

Knights vs Sharks Dubai derby uae rugby



Dubai Derby day in Sports City

With the Knights confidence boosting win over the Saracens last weekend, you might have had your money on the home side to take the win in this local Dubai derby matchup against a struggling Sharks side.

Unfortunately for the Knights, things didn’t go their way, losing the game 24-39 to the Sharks. A lack of ball control at the breakdown and silly penalties led to a couple of turnover tries, which saw the Sharks quick to capitalise on their mistakes. For the Knights, there were some solid runs from Kassim Buyondo and Sean Corroon and some good defensive work from winger Will Boardman. The build up to this game for the Knights was slightly unsettled as their first choice hooker – Serunjoji Paul was ruled out with a broken foot with Jake Myers stepping into the position for the first time.

Knights Manager, John Taimana said, “At the end of the day, we lost the match at the breakdown with ball security not up to the standard required.”

He went on to say “The ruck was hotly contested and a number of penalties ensured that one team was able to put pressure on, which for this game was the Sharks” before finally adding, “Now, we prepare for the Bottom 5 rounds and will look forward to facing them again.”

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The Sharks can be pleased with themselves after a disappointing post sevens period of rugby, culminating in them having to forfeit last weeks game against the Exiles, simply because they did not have enough fit players. Yesterdays derby saw the return of Dan Crumplin in the front row, who put in a ‘man of the match’ performance with his relentless defence. This game also saw captain and UAE strongman, Joe Corcoran returning after the birth of his first child and putting in some solid contact. Together, they managed to set a platform for the team to get a rhythm going.

There is still a long list of players yet to return from injury for the Sharks, who will only strengthen the side but the coaches will be faced with selection headaches from players coming off the bench and holding their hands up – Paul Waters in particular having a good spell at full back.

Head coach Adrian Cartwright said, “Naturally, we’re disappointed to not be getting a Top 6 finish, something that seemed to almost be a given after 4 wins from the opening 6 games, but injuries have had a significant impact since the Dubai Sevens and so yesterday was reassuring for many of the guys.”

Cartwright added, “Most importantly, the game was played in great spirit and was a good match to watch with the Knights threatening right to the end, resulting in both teams seeming to enjoy the afternoon.”

Both teams now out of the race to be in contention with a Top 6 place, this game was all about the bragging rights and the turf war. As local Dubai derbys go, this Sports City fixture was always going to be a good one to watch.

Other Conference Results

Elsewhere in the UAE Conference, Amblers just secured their place in the Top 6 with a strong performance over the Saracens, beating them 63-10. They finished level in the table with Tigers but go through on points difference. The Wasps vs Tigers game was forfeited due to Wasps injury troubles seeing them unable to put a side together. A strong performance from the Harlequins 2’s saw them end the unbeaten run from the Dragons 2’s, winning convincingly 41-18. Over at The Sevens, the Hurricanes 2’s just scraped a win against Exiles 2’s with a last minute try in the corner after a late scrum, leading to their flanker diving over from 5 yards out, taking the victory 39-34. It will be an interesting next few months as we now split the Conference League into Top 6 and Bottom 5.

By Alex Johnson


uae rugby red yellow card penalty


UAE Release Penalty Statistics

UAE Rugby have today released the penalty statistics for Yellow and Red cards issued to date, this 2016 / 2017 season.

There have been 116 Yellow cards and 16 Red cards issued, compared to the 2015/2016 totals of 186 and 19 (respectively).

Cards have been issued across all competitions in the Emirates 2016/2017 fixtures, and with 96 games remaining before the close of the season, the UAERF is concerned with the escalation.

Qais Al Dhalai, UAE Rugby’s Secretary General commented:

“In the very first weekend of games in the UAERF / Asia Rugby West Leagues we saw 22 yellow and 6 red cards issued and this was only in the Premiership and Conference”.

“Our board has taken the decision to be transparent and share these very concerning statistics to help Clubs; their Executive Committee, coach, and their players take ownership and address this unacceptable upward trend.” added Al Dhalai.

uae rugby referees

New Tougher Approach Now In Effect

World Rugby’s new tackle law came into effect on Tuesday January 3rd, 2017, following which there has been a heightened interest in what effect the initiative would have on the pitch, and the UAERF is committed to being proactive in enforcing this directive.

The UAERF, alongside both the UAE Rugby Referees (UAERR) and the Judicial Officers are working closer together to identify and recommend what rugby clubs can do to effectively implement change and improve. In a proactive step, the UAERR have issued a ‘Rugby Referee Game Norms’ guideline to UAE’s Clubs, and the UAERF will continue to communicate through their social media and other communication forums.

While there was a sharp increase in the number of cards issued during games played over the most recent weekend (January 13th) as referees look to heighten their vigilance on the high tackle, there is a general increase in discipline and infringement issues which the UAERF are extremely committed to working toward a dramatic reduction.

Red Card statistics

16 red cards to date

  • Longest ban is 2 matches after reduction
  • 8 cards for Dangerous Tackling
  • 6 cards for Punch/Strike
  • 1 card for Dissent/Abuse Match Official
  • 1 card for Pick Up and Tip Tackling

Yellow Card statistics

116 yellow cards to date

  • 9 players are on their 2nd yellow of the season
  • 49 cards for Dangerous Tackling
  • 26 cards for Repeated Infringement
  • 13 cards for Unfair Play
  • 4 cards for Punch/Strike
  • 4 cards for Dissent/Abuse Match Official
  • 3 cards for Dangerous Charging
  • 3 cards for Dangerous Play in Scrum, Ruck or Maul
  • 3 cards for Late Charging the Kicker
  • 3 cards for Playing Opposition without Ball
  • 2 cards for Acts Contrary to Good Sportsmanship
  • 2 cards for Pick Up and Tip Tackling
  • 2 cards for Tacking Jumper in the Air
  • 1 card for Late Tackle
  • 1 card for Obstruction


Reckless or Accidental High Tackles – New Laws Now In Place

As of the 3rd of January 2017 there has been a new tougher approach to reckless and accidental head contact.

Players, coaches and match officials are urged to be proactive in changing culture of contact with the head area.

World Rugby has further strengthened its commitment to injury prevention by announcing details of a zero-tolerance approach to reckless and accidental head contact in the sport.

While rugby injuries are not on the rise, the World Rugby federation have continued to be proactive in reducing injury risks for all players from high tackles during rugby matches.

In a change to law, they have redefined illegal (high) tackle categories and increased sanctions to deter high tackles via a law application guideline.

high tackles new rugby laws in place

Category 1: Reckless Tackles

A player is deemed to have made reckless contact during a tackle or attempted tackle or during other phases of the game if in making contact, the player KNEW or should have known that there was a RISK of making contact with the head of an opponent, but did so anyway. This sanction applies even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders. This type of contact also applies to grabbing and rolling or twisting around the head or neck area even if the contact starts below the line of the shoulders.

Minimum sanction: Yellow card
Maximum sanction: Red card

Category 2: Accidental Tackle

When making contact with another player during a tackle or attempted tackle or during other phases of the game, if a player makes accidental contact with an opponent’s head, either directly or where the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders, the player MAY be sanctioned. This includes situations where the ball carrier slips into the tackle.

Minimum sanction: Penalty

Yalla Kukri sevens team 2016


The Yalla Kukri inaugural sevens 2016 team enjoyed some great rugby at this years opening Emirates Airlines Rugby Sevens tournament held at the Sevens Stadium in Dubai.

It was the first collaboration between Yalla Rugby and Kukri Sports ME (and hopefully not the last), as they took to the field wearing their eye catching rugby kit.

For a rugby side to come together for the first time and compete in the Gulf Mens Open competition, we really had our work cut out. As a unit, the Yalla Kukri Sevens squad had never collectively been in the same place at the same time before, due to various commitments from the players in the build up to the Dubai Sevens.

With a couple of older heads in the side, balanced with some youthful skilled players, we felt we could make a decent impact in the Pool A league, hope fully progressing into the finals and winning some silverware.

Pool A League

Our first match was against the Beirut Select side from Lebanon. Starting strong, they quickly chalked up a couple of tries against us, but not without a great fight back from the Yalla boys. We almost stole the game from them in the dying seconds but a dubious forward pass let the ref blow for the end of the match making the final score 19 – 26 to Beirut.

Next up we were against the Red Sea Sharks. Now this was the game where Yalla Kukri really came together. After the disappointment of the first match, our team felt they had a point to prove. With a great display of running rugby we ran in a convincing scoreline of 46-0 winners.

Our final Pool A match was against local side Dubai Exiles 2nd XV. The Exiles beat the Beirut Select 36-19 so were clear favourites. This was a must win game if we wanted to progress into the Trophy finals. With one of our players ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a broken hand, we were a vital substitute down going into this match. Exiles scored first but Yalla fought back fatigue and put 17 points on the board. Final score 17-7 to Yalla Kukri.

Quarter Finals

With the heavy win over the Red Sea Sharks, Yalla Kukri topped the table and had secured our place in the Trophy quarter finals against the Amman Nomads. After a hard fought game and plenty of tired and bruised bodies, we just missed out progressing any further in the competition as we lost 10-14 to the Nomads.

We may not have won any silverware this year, but we certainly made an impact and a name for ourselves. We’re incredibly proud of our achievements and will certainly be looking to put a strong side into the Dubai Sevens with a view to bringing home a cup winners medal.

Huge thanks to all the players, sponsors and organisers. Bring on 2017!!!!

By Alex Johnson

UAE girls rugby training with new zealand all black ferns women


UAE Rugby Federation announce schedule for this week’s first ever U18 Girl’s Rugby International Sevens Tournament



The UAE Rugby Federation have today announced the schedule for this week’s first ever UAE U18 Girl’s Rugby International Sevens Tournament which is to be held at local Dubai rugby ground – Sports City.

Within the last few days, the UAE Rugby U18 Girls have been finishing off their training preparations with the New Zealand All Black Ferns. Yalla Rugby were invited along to the interactive training session with the girls which took place at the prestigious – Repton School on Saturday.

The girls were also joined by the Apollo Perelini Rugby Skills Academy U18 Girls squad, the brainchild of founder and former international rugby union and rugby league professional, Apollo Perelini.

Inaugural Rugby U18 Girl’s International Sevens Tournament

Hong Kong, India, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan will be joined by a historic, first-ever all-Emirati UAE side, who will compete in the 5-round tournament on November 30th and December 1st, at Dubai Sports City (Dubai), kicking off at 13:30.

This tournament is a dream come true for UAE Rugby”

“This tournament is a dream come true for UAE Rugby” said Qais Al Dhalai, Secretary General of Asia Rugby and Secretary General of the UAE Rugby Federation. “We are incredibly proud to be fielding an all-Emirati girl’s sevens team, and we are very excited with the possibilities that lay ahead for our girls. We are especially thrilled to have our newly elected Chairman, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Maktoum Al Juma Maktoum, attend the players final training session (on Monday) ahead of Wednesday’s start.”

Al Dhalai went on to say “Also, this is one Asia Rugby’s KPIs, to have structured competitions for men’s and women’s U18 and Taiwan 7’s Men’s (which was held in Aug 2016 with 6 Asian Teams). And now UAE has initiated the equal step to have a women’s U18 7s, we are delighted it’s happening now – in following years they won’t only be sanctioned by Asia Rugby but run and organised by Asia Rugby”

This year’s Dubai Rugby Sevens is especially exciting for UAE Rugby as it will see the final of the UAE Rugby U18 Girl’s Sevens Tournament played on Friday afternoon at the Sevens.

UAE Rugby is very committed to the Olympic value of gender inclusion”

UAE Rugby Board Member Fawzia Mohammed Faridoon added “UAE Rugby is very committed to the Olympic value of gender inclusion. Our board has embraced the vision of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak – wife of the late His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan – and Her Highness Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum ‎- the wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – of empowering UAE’s females in every aspect of life today. Through this vision we have set a very ambitious goal to have a ratio of 40% female players against 60% male players within the next five years.”

Rugby Schedule

Wednesday November 30th U18 Rugby Schedule
113:30R1KazakhstanVHong Kong
314:10R1IndiaVSri Lanka
415:30R2UAEVHong Kong
616:10R2KazakhstanVSri Lanka
817:50R3Hong KongVSri Lanka
Thursday December 1st U18 Rugby Schedule
1013:30R4IndiaVHong Kong
1113:50R4Sri LankaVUzbekistan
1315:30R5Hong KongVUzbekistan
1415:50R5Sri LankaVUAE

dubai rugby sevens 2016



Theres less than a week to go until the Dubai Rugby Sevens 2016

The ‘biggest party on the planet’ will open its doors again on Thursday for a non-stop 3 day rugby fest, with olympic medalists in tow creating a brand new spectacle of entertainment to ensure a thrilling weekend for rugby fans, party-goers and first-timers. With the Dubai 7s being one of the biggest sporting events of the year, you can expect huge numbers (an estimated 100,000) attending with the majority of fans in fancy dress, the 7s is guaranteed to be the 2016 event that you really don’t want to miss!

The Thursday tends to be the quietest day due to there being no international teams playing and is normally considered ‘family day’ and entry is free. Although there really is entertainment for all ages from the Saaba 7s Club Nursery to the Virgin Radio Teen Tent and of course the Heineken tent for the ‘adults’. With free entry for under 12s for the entire weekend, the family offering at the 7s continues to get better and better each year.

Buses will be organised on the Friday and Saturday to take you back to central locations across Dubai which means you can enjoy the day and not have to worry about how you will be getting home!

The international tournament isn’t the only place you will see some famous rugby faces. There is always a whole host of rugby legends attending the event for the invitational tournament as well with the Joining Jack team normally packed with retired professional players of the game and last year saw Owen Farrell running on as water boy!

With the netball tournament included, the Dubai Rugby Sevens will see 324 teams, 937 matches and an incredible 4,866 players all aiming to entertain the fans and hopefully be lifting a trophy by the end of the weekend. Defending champions and olympic gold medalists Fiji will be looking to defend their crown and continue their domination of the world sevens circuit. They will kick-off their tournament against Canada on the Friday.

Be sure to come and say hi to our very own Yalla Kukri Rugby team that are competing in this years Gulf Mens Open Tournament. We’ll have photographers snapping away, so be sure to give them a wave!!

Ticket Prices (general admission) are: Thursday – FREE ADMISSION; Friday, in advance AED 300, on the day AED 400; Saturday, in advance AED 300, on the day AED 400; season tickets (Friday and Saturday), in advance AED 500, on the day AED 600, while children under 12 are admitted for free.

By Tom Davies

Jonah Lomu first anniversary of death 2015



Can you believe it’s been one year since the passing of the great Jonah Lomu? As a huge fan of his, I still find it hard to believe that he is gone.

This time of year will always be a poignant time we remember Jonah for his contribution (on and off the field) to sevens and fifteens rugby, especially with the Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens just around the corner.

The All Black legend died on November the 18th last year (2015) due to his long suffering kidney complications that had plagued him for more than 20 years.

He was 40.

Lomu rugbyIt was back in 1994 when Jonah Lomu burst onto the international rugby stage, during the Hong Kong Sevens tournament. He made his first New Zealand All Blacks test debut as a young 19 year old, making him the youngest ever player at the time to be capped in the All Blacks squad.

The 1995 Rugby World Cup held in South Africa was the year that really catapulted Lomu into rugby stardom, as he ran a mock on the field, showing his awesome power, speed and capabilities. With just 2 international caps to his name, he was included in the World Cup squad who just lost out to South Africa as they kicked a drop goal in the dying minutes of extra time.

Before Jonah came along, wingers were generally fast and light on their feet. He was the first truly massive wing to show both the strength of a forward and speed of a back, something that now is a trend with many wingers such as the current the current All Black No.11 – Julian Savea. It was his unique combination of power, speed and size which made him so devastating on the rugby field. Weighing 120KG and standing at 1.96 metres tall he could run the 100 metres in 10.8 seconds making him almost impossible to tackle.

After his professional rugby career, Jonah helped campaign and was a huge factor in the winning bid to have Sevens Rugby included into the Olympic Games and make it’s debut at Rio de Janeiro.

UAE Rugby, Secretary General Qais Al Dhalai reflects on the his time with Lomu and the legacy that he has left behind;

“The Sevens debut at this years Olympic Games in Brazil is his biggest achievement and legacy, that rugby is now watched by an audience of millions worldwide because of him.”

“Getting sevens into the Olympics had helped spread the game beyond the founding nations and into new markets like the UAE” added Al Dhalai.

Al Dhalai told us that another of Lomu’s legacy projects had been put on hold due to his death.

“I have to reaveal that we had reached the end stages of forming the Jonah Lomu Academy in Dubai, london and Tokyo, and that was a big plan reaching a nice end but it got put on hold and and we have to respect that.”

He went on to say;

“We are in discussions and I cannot comment further but I ant to be honest, this was an upcoming project we had worked on together. Time will tell if this continues so watch this space.”

Jonah was in Dubai with Al Dhalai this time last year on one of his many stopovers in the city on his way back from the 2015 Rugby World Cup held in England to his home in Auckland, New Zealand.

By Alex Johnson

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7s rugby

Our rugby fitness expert – Max Physick gives some invaluable advice for the ultimate performance at this years Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens


It’s that time of year again. Teams here in Dubai have started their Christmas break from 15s, and the autumn internationals are in full swing with some great rugby being played.

As some teams wind down match day Fridays and up the training over the coming months, competitive focus now shifts to 7s rugby, with the Eden Park tournament and the Dubai Sevens just around the corner.

Most teams in the region will be entering a squad into each competition, with the Dubai Sevens obviously being the bigger and arguably more attractive event to succeed in. Whether you’re part of a serious entry or less so, it is a great opportunity to enjoy a weekend of competition, team-bonding and socialising with some high standard rugby available to play and watch.

With such potential high-level performances comes a great deal of planning & preparation, both on the pitch and in the kitchen, to ensure player & team are ready for the fast-paced, fitness-demanding 14 minutes of lactic acid following the whistle.

As there are only 7 players in each team covering a full-sized pitch, the physical demands of 7s rugby is different to that of 15s. Due to this, you will generally see more of the back row and back line players making up the squads than the big front 5 (however not always the case).

I remember my first outing as a 7s player, bearing in mind that my usual position is hooker, sitting at 80-90kg (depending on my body composition and period of training) and 176cm. My usual tactic is hit first and ask questions later, however I soon learned that this is not the best strategy during 7s. ‘Marking’ players, covering ground and using space and width to your advantage is a much better idea so as to not gas yourself out through contact.

Let’s break this down and talk about energy systems. You have 3 energy systems during exercise that your body will use depending on the intensity and level of exertion.

In order of preferential use:

  1. Phosphocreatine System (PC) – explosive, fueled by ATP
  2. Aerobic System – sustained activity, fueled by fat & oxygen
  3. Anerobic/Alactate System – higher intensities but shorter duration, fueled by sugar as a preferred source

rugby tackle

During collisions and contact situations, you are exerting more resistive/explosive force (as if you were moving weight), in concentric, eccentric and isometric patterns (think lifting, lowering and holding) in response to whatever position you are in with regard to your opposition. For example, if you are clearing over the ball in a breakdown, that will be largely explosive concentric as you are moving forward at pace into resistance, whereas if you are driving against a well matched pack in a scrum and not moving, this would be isometric as you would be contracting against force without going either forward or backwards.

These types of muscle actions, together with sprinting use the PC system, which can sustain output for around 10 seconds before fatigue sets in and your body switches over to a different system – the anaerobic system (which produces lactic acid as a waste product, hence why your legs burn like hell after pushing for extended periods).

Linking back to the original point; 7s is predominantly an aerobic and anaerobic activity, depending on how hard you are working and what your anaerobic threshold is (how much you can handle pre-fatigue). If you were to exert these powerful forces in contact situations, expend your PC system fuel reserves and then move directly into an anaerobic activity where you are running the length of the pitch, you are more than likely going to be sucking wind all the way from Al Ain after only a few minutes with your legs about to explode.

This is why I quickly realised the best defensive strategy was to not go full-pelt into the opposition, but to cover ground and make contact when necessary.

So, all these big words sound great, but how does it apply to me, you may ask?

dubai rugby sevens

You can use a combination of these energy systems during your training & preparation to effectively train your body to switch between energy systems and increase your overall fitness levels. You can combine all 3 into one session, or you can program single energy system sessions across the week; in experience however, you’d be better suited to combination sessions due to being more match specific. That doesn’t go to say that strength & conditioning takes a backseat however; lifting weights to build strength & mass is still important, but this type of conditioning work should also be included.

Match specificity is key here, as i’m sure you’re aware after experiencing the difference between pre-season and the first competitive fixture – it just doesn’t compare. You can be Mo Farah on the road and Bolt on the track, but when combined on the pitch with a Pocock character being an absolute nuisance at the breakdown, the demands just go to another level.

Let’s put these into work then, in an example of a combined training session below. Bear in mind that this is only an example and should be tailored to the individual/team demands where necessary.

Warm Up – 5-10 mins

Mobility, release and dynamic stretching, combined with light aerobic activity to raise heart rate and get the blood pumping.

PC System Work – 10-15 mins

Short sprint bouts of up 5-10 seconds and/or plyometrics

Note – this should always be done at the start of the session.

Anaerobic System Work – 20-30 mins continuous

Sled drags, prowler pushes, tire flips etc., (partner resisted sprints if you don’t have access to this kit), immediately followed by distance run efforts (around 80% max effort) with short recovery.

Note – The idea here is to induce lactic acid build up and push through the barrier to the best of your ability. This then (theoretically) improves your lactate threshold (how much you can tolerate before exhaustion)

Aerobic System Work – 20-30 mins

This could be basic running drills such as pitch suicides/shuttle runs or just set distance efforts, again using short rest times to keep your lungs burning, though not too short to compromise performance due to jelly legs.

Combination Work

Now you can also put all of these together into a torturous circuit instead of a singular structure to really maximise your training returns, keeping the demands more match specific.

  • Sled Drag / Prowler Push for distance
  • Jog Return Recovery
  • Maximal Sprint
  • Tire Flips for distance
  • Jog Return Recovery
  • Partner Wrestle/Grapple
  • Jog Return Recovery
  • Best Effort Lap of the Pitch

Repeat this 3-5 times, throw up and pass out.

As you can see, the training from 7’s to 15’s is not too dissimilar in terms of using your 3 energy systems. It would be wise however to focus a lot more on running (aerobic & anaerobic) fitness as this is much more appropriate to the demands of sevens rugby. For example, during a 15’s match when a player makes a line break, he/she will more often than not sprint like hell (PC system followed by anaerobic – short lived) to the try line to secure the points. Compare this to 7s when there is a break, the player will get past the gain line / clear the opposition at a sprint or fast run (PC, anaerobic) and then slow down to a jog (aerobic) across the line to conserve their fuel.

So, if you’re feeling up to it, plug this into your weekly training / gym sessions over the next few weeks and see how it affects you. Even if you’re not competing in the upcoming 7s tournaments, it will be great fitness and will only benefit your health and body composition.

By Max Physick


Yalla Kukri Rugby Sevens Trails 2016


Yalla Kukri Trials Day

Yalla Rugby have teamed up with Kukri Sports Middle East for this years Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens tournament which kicks off in just under 3 weeks time.

Our inaugural team which will be known as Yalla Kukri, are extremely excited to be part of this years tournament which is on track to see the biggest ever turnout. Competing in the Gulf Mens Open competition sees us up against teams such as Beirut Select, Red Sea Sharks and Dubai Exiles 2’s in the pool matches before hopefully progressing to the finals.

There are still openings available for players to take part in the first ever Yalla Kukri Rugby team. Trials will be held this Saturday at 16:30 located at Nord Anglia International School (location below).

We welcome all players looking to play in this years Dubai Sevens, to join us for a trials session at the school.

Player who are selected to play in this exclusive squad will be guaranteed free entry into the competition, full training kit, match day kit and commemorative rucksack and some well earned refreshments throughout the weekend!

Please note: Players must be 18 and over and hold a UAE Residents Visa.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our principal sponsors – Project Partners and Confident Dental & Skin Care Clinic for their support, without whom this would not have been possible.

Anyone interested in joining, please contact either Alex Johnson on +971 56 979 4438 or Gwillym Poole on+971 50 409 0728.

Training Location

Nord Anglia International School
Centrally located in Al Barsha, 5 minutes from Sheikh Zayed road and directly off Hessa Street.

J9 Legends vets champions 2016 Dubai Sevens winners



J9 Legends, defending International Vets Champions, prepare to repeat stellar winning performance in 2016’s Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby’s Sevens.

With the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens fast approaching defending International Vets Champions, J9 Legends, drive is two-fold; to successfully defend their title and to drive high J9 Foundation‘s goal to raise awareness of Motor Neuron Disease (MND).

Waisale Serevi widely considered as the best 7’s player of all time will once again steer this illustrious team, which collectively boasts an impressive 156 International caps, into their 4th campaign. The J9 Legends jersey has been worn by players such as Thinus Delport (South Africa), Nasoni Roko (Fiji), Villiami Vaki (Tonga), Waisale Serevi (Fiji), Carlos Spencer (New Zealand), Stephen Larkham (Australia) and Colin Charvis (Wales), to name a mere few.

In the build-up to the Dubai Rugby 7’s weekend, the J9 World Legends extend a challenge to all rugby fans to pit their rugby knowledge against the Legends themselves at the ‘Big Rugby Quiz night’, where several questions have been identified by Joost himself. The quiz night and BBQ will be held at the Novotel World Trade Center, Dubai, Wednesday November 30th at 6.00pm.

Founded in 2011, the J9 Foundation was established by South African Rugby great, Joost Van Der Westhuizen, after he was diagnosed with the disease (in 2011). The foundation’s mandate is to create and drive awareness of the disease as well as provide much-needed support to sufferers and their families.

For the 2016 campaign, the J9 Foundation has partnered with the Al Jalila Foundation. The Al Jalila foundation is a global philanthropic organisation focused on medical education and research. It was founded by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai in April 2013. Al Jalila Foundation Research Centre, set to open in 2017 in Dubai Healthcare City, is expected to be a beacon for regionally-relevant medical innovation, produced by home-grown biomedical researchers.

To reserve your place (or places) in the Big Rugby Quiz visit, or email Frances Archer at

Dubai Sharks to Host 2016 Eden Park Sevens Tournement


UAE Rugby has today announced the 2016 edition of the UAE Rugby Eden Park Sevens (7’s) which will be a 1-day tournament hosted by the Dubai Sharks, at their home ground in Dubai Sports City, on Friday November 18th.

Qais Al Dhalai, UAE Rugby Federation’s Secretary General said:

“UAE Rugby is very proud to bring, for a fifth year, the UAE Rugby Eden Park 7’s through a 1-day tournament.”

“This time of the year sees the rugby community focus heavily on the 7’s format of our game and with the majority of clubs participating, once again, in the Gulf Men’s Open division of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby 7’s, we are acutely cognisant of the Federation’s requirement and ability to provide the opportunity for our UAE-based clubs to adequately prepare.”

He went on to say:

“We thank the Sharks for hosting the tournament for a second year, and we wish all clubs the best on the day.”

Franck Mesnel, founder Eden Park commented:

“We are delighted the Eden Park 7’s has such a solid following, both Expatriates and UAE Nationals, from across the UAE. Eden Park, and I, remain very proud of the relationship formed with the UAE Rugby Federation and we remain encouraged by the development of the game across the Gulf Regions through various new Sevens’s initiatives implemented in the past year focusing on, and supporting the growth of indigenous talent.”

Supporting the action on the pitch, Dubai Sports City will host various fun, interactive competitions which will be open to all members of the family and where some fantastic Eden Park prizes can be won. Extensive food and beverage offerings will also be available adding to what will be two enjoyable day out. “We are expecting quality 7’s rugby to be played on the 18th, and encourage all rugby supporters to join us and support their club for what will be a great day of domestic 7’s rugby” added Ibrahim Buhamer, UAERF Board Member.

The day’s fixtures are expected to start early-morning and spectator entry to the tournament is free.

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Harlequins Rugby Abu Dhabi UAE


This weekend saw the last of the UAE competitions’ games with a month long break coming in to play for the UAE Rugby Eden Park 7s and Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby 7s tournament.

UAE Premiership Results

In the UAE Premiership there were a couple of stunning tries scored as the Harlequins 1st XV just edged the Dragons 1st XV, who produced an extremely brave performance but just fell short. The 30 – 31 win means Quins still remain unbeaten this season, quite an achievement. The other match of the Premiership was Saracens 1st XV against the Exiles 1st XV. Another close affair showing how tough the Premiership really is. The result ended in favour of the Exiles who won 14-17.

UAE Conference Results

Over to the UAE Conference now and the Saracens 2nd XV played against last years champions Sharjah Wanderers 1st XV who were coming into this match off the back of 3 straight defeats. This wasn’t reflected in the match however as the Wanderers ran out a convincing 45-12 win.

The Dubai Sharks 1st XV saw their 4 match winning streak come to an end as they were taken apart by an impressive Dragons 2nd XV side who scored some slick tries to win 52-10.

The Harlequins 2nd XV produced an emphatic performance, dominating the Wasps 1st XV (who are no pushovers), in a mighty 66-13 thrashing. The Amblers 2nd XV are finally beginning to find their feet this season as they put in a huge performance running away with a huge 90-7 win against the Tigers 1st XV. A very physical and close fort match between the Knights 1st XV and Hurricanes 2nd XV was unfortunately recorded as a forfeit with the win going to the Knights.

UAE Community Results

There were only 2 UAE Community matches taking place this weekend with the Dragons 3rd XV taking on the Sharks 2nd XV at home, the result went in favour of a powerful Dragons side who cruised to a 53-5 win. The ever improving RAK Rocks secured their first win of the season with a narrow 20-25 win over the Amblers 3rd XV. Rocks Chairman, Mike Silvester will be pleased with this result and will no doubt be hoping to build on this victory over the next few weeks off.

By Tom Davies

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uae rugby results 2016


Matches in all three leagues of UAE rugby took place this weekend. In the Premiership the Dragons 1st XV continued their unbeaten run with an entertaining 42-30 win over the Exiles 1st XV with a high scoring affair that saw some great tries ran in. The only other UAE Premiership match was the Hurricanes 1st XV narrow 18-16 win over a much improved Saracens 1st XV side, who will be disappointed not to have come away with the win.

The UAE Conference had a great weekend with some excellent performances and close games. The Dragons 2nd XV ground out a tough 15-5 win against a brave Wasps 1st XV side pushing undefeated Dragons hard for the full match. The Knights 1st XV were looking for their first win of the season against the Exiles 2nd XV. Unfortunately for them the Exiles had other ideas with a comfortable 27-3 win.

The Sharks 1st XV managed a hard fought 25-24 win against the Hurricanes 2nd XV, who bombarded the Sharks’ try line for the last 20 minutes of the match and scored what could have been the decisive try, only to see the conversion hit the post. Only a fool would write the Amblers 2’s off, having withdrawn from the Premiership, expect a good number of players to be bolstering the 2nd XV team in the Conference this season. This showed as they put 48 points on the defending champions – Sharjah Wanderers 1st XV, in a 48-25 win. The last match of the weekend saw the Tigers 1st XV taking on the Harlequins 2nd XV. A valiant effort from the Tigers saw them lose by just 12 points, final score 22-10.

Only 2 matches in the UAE Community in this round, the Harlequins 3rd XV stunned defending champions the Beaver Nomads 1st XV with an excellent performance, winning the match 30-17. The other match saw the Sharks 3rd XV against the Wasps 2nd XV, with the fixture recorded as a forfeit for the second time this season for the Sharks, so the Wasps will happily take the 20-0 win.

A Look To Next Round

In the UAE Premiership, expect an excellent match-up when the Dragons 1st XV take on the Harlequins 1st XV on Thursday night. The other match should see either the Saracens 1st XV or Exiles 1st XV getting their first win of the season as they play each other on Friday.

The pick of the matches in the UAE Conference has to be the still undefeated Dragons 2nd XV hosting the Sharks 1st XV, who are coming into the match on the back of 4 wins. A Wasps 1st XV win is almost a necessity this weekend if they want to keep their top 6 hopes alive this season and they face an extremely stern test in the shape of the Harlequins 2nd XV.

We’re also back in action with the UAE Community League this Friday. The Dragons 3rd XV host the Sharks 2nd and the Amblers 3rd XV take on the ever improving RAK Rocks 1st XV.

Lets hope the Rocks aren’t still playing with Sand in their boots, as they seem to show their strength playing on a sand rugby pitch.

By Tom Davies

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uae introduce rugby player transfer window


For all those lovers of the good old days of games like Championship Manager, where you would carve your skills as the next potential Sir Alex Ferguson or Sir Bobby Robson, we have some good news for you.

No it’s not the latest release of the game.

It’s a little something closer to home in the Middle East. Our very own UAERF Rugby Player Transfer Window.

Currently the UAE Rugby Federation states that;

  • No player may hold effective registration with more than one rugby club at any time.
  • A player may only apply to change the club for whom they are registered at the end of the current season along with specific consent of the UAERF.
  • A player who changes clubs from the one that they are currently registered to, may not compete in the same competition for their new club without the specific consent of the UAERF.

So here’s the game changer…

Players’ Transfer Window

There have recently been quite a number of rugby player transfer requests so the UAE Rugby Federation have decided to introduce the “Players’ Transfer Window” or “PTW” for short.

There will be 2 such windows of opportunity throughout the season:

  • Between the 20th December and the 5th January
  • Between the 1st August and the 15th August

Exciting stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree!

Those rugby players wishing to transfer, must supply a letter of no objection from their current rugby club, addressed to the UAERF Secretary General to be able to begin their transfer request to another club.

The UAERF regulations will be amended accordingly and any transfer requests outside of these windows will not be considered. All other regulations regarding effective registration will remain as normal.

Is this the start of a new era of professional rugby in the United Arab Emirates? Only time will tell.

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uae rugby round up


Another exciting round of rugby took place last weekend with the Conference and Community leagues in action with a couple of big upsets coming in the Conference league.

There were 5 matches that took place in the UAE Conference all of which proved to be entertaining affairs.

UAE Conference Rugby

There was a big upset as the Exiles 2’s ended a year long unbeaten run for the Wanderers 1st XV, a hugely impressive display saw them win 21-3, a huge blow to the Wanderers who are looking for back to back titles.

The underdog Sharks 1st XV managed a determined 20-14 win against a shocked Harlequins 2’s side. Down to 13 men, the Sharks spent the final 10 minutes pinned back in their own 22 but somehow managed to prevent a Quins try which would have given them a kick to win the match, a huge defensive performance from the Sharks.

A re-organised Amblers 2nd XV finally found their feet this season beating the Wasps 1st XV 16-15. The Wasps now have an uphill battle to make the top 6 of the conference this year.

The Dragons 2nd XV cruised to a comfortable 62-7 win against the Knights 1st XV who have struggled to string together any form so far this season.

The Saracens 2’s continued their extremely tough start to the season with a 52-14 loss to a dominant Tigers 1st XV side, having won the Bottom 6 tournament last year the Tigers will be hoping to force their way into the top 6 this year.

UAE Community Rugby

In the UAE Community League Shaheen 1st XV had a seriously tough day in the office at the hands of the Beaver Nomads 1st XV, being blown away by a huge 88-0 scoreline.

The Wasps 2’s showed a great display of rugby to beat the Amblers 3’s 5-29. The third and final match of the weekend saw the Harlequins 3rd XV grind out a 22-14 win against a determined Sharks 2s side.

A Look Ahead

Thursday night sees the Jebel Ali Dragons 1st XV take on Saracens 1st XV up in Abu Dhabi in a re arranged Premiership fixture.

On Friday the rescheduled UAE Conference Round 1 match – Hurricanes 2nd XV vs Saracens 2nd XV should see some great rugby played, while the rest of the leagues have a week off.

By Tom Davies

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uae rugby results 2016


Round 3 of the UAE rugby season took place at the weekend. With the Community league having the week off there was only the Premiership and Conference leagues in action, but boy did they deliver some great rugby!

Only one match took place in the Premiership and that was the exciting match up of the Harlequins 1st XV against the Exiles 1st XV. It was an extremely close match with neither team running away with it. In the end Harlequins just nicked the game as 25-18 winners.

The UAE Conference had a huge weekend with some hugely impressive performances and hard fought victories from a number of teams. The match of the weekend had to be the breathless affair between the Harlequins 2nd XV and Hurricanes 2nd XV, with a whopping 69 points being scored in the game, Quins were the team that came out on top winning 38-31. The Wanderers 1st XV ground out a tough 13-7 win against a much improved Wasps 1st XV side, pushing the defending champions hard for the entire match. The Knights 1st XV were looking to turn around a slow start to the season against the Tigers 1st XV in what turned out to be another great game of rugby. Unfortunately for the Knights the Tigers proved to be a tough competition and just beat them to it 29-24. The Exiles took a forfeit win against the Amblers 20-0. You would be a fool to write the Amblers off though, having withdrawn their 1st XV team from the Premiership and Gulf Conference, expect a good number of players to be bolstering the 2nd XV team in the Conference this season. Yet another big score came with the Dragons 2nd XV taking on the Saracens 2nd XV. An improved performance from last round saw the Saracens score 17 points against a very impressive Dragons side. Unfortunately it was not enough as the Dragons bombarded their way to a 50-17 victory.

A Look To Next Round

In the Premiership the Saracens 1st XV entertain the Harlequins 1st XV who will be looking to continue the impressive start to their season with another win away from home. The other match is the Dragons 1st XV taking on the Hurricanes 1st XV who will want an improvement on the loss they suffered in round 1.

The pick of the matches in the Conference has to be the clash of 2 undefeated sides – the Exiles 2nd XV against the Wanderers 1st XV. The Wanderers were pushed close by the Wasps 1st XV in round 2 so will want a more dominant performance on Friday. Another great match up is the Sharks 1st XV taking on the undefeated Harlequins 2nd XV. The Sharks will be looking to build some momentum from their last victory and will be looking for weaknesses in the undefeated Quins.

The Community league will be back in action this weekend also. The match to watch will be the defending champions – Beaver Nomads 1st XV taking on the quickly improving Shaheen 1st XV side.

By Tom Davies

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amblers-withdraw-west-asia-premiership-rugbyBreaking News: The Al Ain Amblers have withdrawn from the West Asia and Premiership rugby championship.

After a committee discussion the UAERF have been notified by Al Ain Amblers of their request to withdraw from the West Asia Premiership/UAE Premiership due to insufficient numbers and safety of the remaining players to be able to compete at the UAEConference level.

Any UAE Premiership games that have already been played or are due to be played by the Al Ain Amblers 1st XV will now be recorded as 0 – 0 draw. Other teams that are due to play the Amblers 1st XV on the fixtures list will now have a bye weekend.

The Amblers have confirmed they will honour their 1st XV fixture this weekend against Jebel Ali Dragons 1st XV, however no score will be recorded in the tables and will be seen as a friendly match. The Jebel Ali Dragons are under no obligation to fulfil this fixture.

This should make the UAE Conference league very interesting as the majority of the 1st XV players will now bulk up the 2nd XV.

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Emirates UAE Rugby Roundup


UAE Rugby Roundup

All three UAE rugby leagues are now into their regular season once again with both the Premiership and the Community tournaments back on the pitch.

Starting with the West Asia Premiership, the Saracens kicked off their season with a 20-0 win against the Amblers due to the match being ruled as a forfeit by the Amblers breaching UAERF Competition Regulations. Jayden Bell and Sunia Laladidi were both not eligible to play during this match. As stated in UAERF Regulation 19 – all fully completed dispensation forms must be submitted 15 days prior to the scheduled fixture. The Amblers will hope that the penalty point received doesn’t come back to haunt them near the end of the season.

The other match was an exciting 35-13 win for the Harlequins 1st XV against the Hurricanes 1st XV. The Quins really put their hand up as genuine title contenders against a strong Canes side.

In the UAE Conference league the Wanderers 1st XV secured a hard fought 23-14 win against a determined Heartbeat Tigers 1st XV side. They can take great pride in pushing the defending champions hard, finishing just 9 points behind. The Dubai Sharks 1st XV produced a gutsy performance, beating a battling Wasps 1st XV team by a solitary point 14-13 with the Sharks putting everything they had into the match and leaving nothing on the pitch at the sound of the final whistle.

Harlequins 2nd XV eased to an impressive 57-10 win against a struggling Amblers 2nd XV side. The Hurricanes 2nd XV suffered a disappointing 7-36 loss against an extremely impressive Dragons 2nd XV outfit, having finished one place above the Dragons last season, the Hurricanes will be disappointed with the heavy loss. The final match of the Conference was a dominating 59-0 win to the Exiles 2nd XV against the Saracens 2nd XV, the biggest scoring margin of the round leaves the Saracens with a lot to work on before the next round of UAE rugby.

The Community league kicked off with a Thursday night match for the defending champions – Beaver Nomads 1st XV against the Sharks 2nd XV. A physical encounter ended with the Nomads running out as 48-12 winners. The Amblers 3rd XV entertained the Harlequins 3rd XV on Friday with the Quins producing a fine performance to win 43-22.

Shaheen 1st XV produced the performance of the Community league by beating the Sharks 3rd XV 34-5. With just one season of 15s rugby union under their belt it shows that Shaheen have serious potential under head coach Apollo Perelini and will only get better as the season goes on. The final match of the Community league saw the RAK Rocks 1st XV entertain the Dragons 3rd XV in the “sandbox”, the name given to the Rocks newly refurbished all sand pitch. An extremely tiring game was won by the impressive Dragons unit 61-12.

A look ahead to the next round

There will be some great rugby on offer this coming weekend in the West Asia Premiership and Conference.

The match to watch in the WA Premiership has to be the defending champions, the Exiles 1st XV taking on the Harlequins 1st XV, who produced a fine performance last week.

In the Conference the Dubai Wasps will be looking to bounce back from their loss in round 2 and hopefully come away with a win against current champions Sharjah Wanderers 1st XV, to get their season back on track.

The Community league have a weekend off before returning to action on the 7th of October.

By Tom Davies

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