We interview Baptiste Liagre, a new member of the Dubai Sharks Rugby Club.
YR. Which rugby team do you play for?
BL. I play for the Dubai Sharks RFC.
YR. What position do you play?
BL. I’m currently playing loose-head prop, but I personally prefer to play tight-head prop.
YR. How long have you been in Dubai?
BL. I’ve only been playing rugby for the Sharks for two months now as I’m still new to life in Dubai.
YR. Which country did you come from and how does playing rugby here in the UAE differ from your home country?
BL. I came from France, my home country. The cultural diversity brings a lot of differences on the pitch. Compared to France, the game is really fast, always playing out wide, which is not really the kind of rugby we play in France. The rugby game is just crazy over here, it’s intense and exciting. Rugby in France is much slower, it’s more physical than technical, and forwards keep the ball a lot more. At the moment I think French rugby is old fashioned. You just need to look at the French performances in the rescent Rugby World Cup to see the proof. So it’s amazing and positive for me to learn to play with this international culture. Especially for a prop, because we are not used to playing with such ‘mobile’ and fit props in France, so I it is a great opportunity to learn with other players from all over the world.
YR. How many years have you been playing rugby?
BL. I used to play when I was younger, but I had to stop because of an injury. I came back to playing rugby two years ago where I played for my University in France.
YR. What made you choose your current rugby club?
BL. Actually, I was really lucky to find the Dubai Sharks. Before coming to Dubai, I knew that I wanted to play rugby and continue playing the sport that I love. So I tried to contact the different teams I found on Facebook, and the only reply I got was from the Dubai Sharks. They were quick to respond, and I had many questions which they were able to answer very easily. Then, 3 days after arriving in Dubai, I was able to come to my first training session. It was amazing because I didn’t know anybody in Dubai and as soon as I arrived, I was welcomed into the club like it was my family.
YR. What has been your favourite memory so far playing rugby here in the Gulf?
BL. I would have to say my first game. It was amazing because I was really feeling part of a team, and it’s an indescribable feeling, the first time you share a rugby match with your team mates, you only get this feelings playing in team sports. So being back in a rugby team is amazing, and my first game is a great memory for me.
YR. What has been your worst memory playing rugby here?
BL. Definitely my concussion. It was my first one. I was in the starting XV for the 2nd team and I was so up for the game and I just wanted to play the full 80 minutes. After 10 minutes, I was knocked out in a ruck, and I just remember a few minutes later being on the side of the pitch, I was a bit lost and dazed. It’s my worst memory because I was sad and angry to have to stop playing the game, but also the frustration of having to stop for two weeks while I recover as concussion must be taken seriously in rugby.
YR. Which team mate would you most definitely not like to be stranded in the desert with and why?
BL. I guess in the desert it would be really hard to get food… so I would say Armel van Erck, we would have too many arguments about food and who is eating what as we’re both front row forwards and both love a good feed!!
YR. Finally, what makes playing rugby so special here in Dubai and for the Sharks?
BL. The first shock for me was the heat and humidity. Then, obviously, due to the weather, you don’t have mud on the pitch, which is better because at least the game is quick flowing and not stopped by the muddy pitch. Also the cultural diversity of the teams. You have people coming from all over the world, which makes new friendships so much stronger as you wouldn’t usually get the chance to meet them as easily as being back home in France. Everybody is also out here to work or to travel so we all share the same experiences.