Premiership League Preview
Whats New With The UAE Premiership League?
- Dubai Sports City Eagles enter the league for the first time
- Doha will not compete in the West Asia Premiership for non-rugby reasons
Can anyone knock Abu Dhabi Harlequins off their perch?
On the face of it, it’s a big ask. The Quins swept all before them last season completing an unprecedented quintuple of trophies including both the UAE and West Asia Premiership titles. With the core of this side remaining together this season, the capital city side certainly begin as the team to beat. What may offer their rivals a glimmer of hope is that the off-season has not been without its challenges for the Harlequins with reported loss of lucrative sponsorship deals impacting recruitment and preparation. None has a bigger point to prove than the UAE’s oldest club, Dubai Exiles who endured a disappointing 50th anniversary campaign last year, surrendering their Premiership crown with barely a whimper. Steady recruitment over the summer, including the addition of Ireland and Munster capped Denis Hurley as Assistant Coach should see Exiles mount a stronger challenge across the board this season.
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How will the UAE’s newest club faire in their debut season?
The formation of Dubai Sports City Eagles has been the major talking point of the summer and all eyes will be on the debutants after their somewhat controversial immediate insertion in to the top level of UAE rugby. If a pre-season 59-5 drubbing at the hands of Jebel Ali Dragons is anything to go by, they still have plenty of work to do to mould a side capable of competing on this stage. However, strong off field foundations are in place and the prospect of playing elite rugby at Dubai Sports City is likely to prove attractive to prospective new players. The club hierarchy may not expect to challenge for silverware this season but the pressure will be on coach Pat Benson to show that the Eagles belong at UAE rugby’s top table.