Peter Henderson - Director of Rugby at Abu Dhabi Saracens 2019

Saracens aim to kick off their 2019/20 campaign with a welcomed boost of new coaches, players and improved club facilities.

Following their refocused 2018/19 season, members within the walls of Abu Dhabi Saracens have seen the club move into the 2019/20 season well ahead of schedule. Director of Rugby and Head Coach, Peter Henderson has admitted its all been extremely positive.

He explains,

“When I took over the role two years ago, I was more or less thrown into it. That first year was about survival, I can’t deny it. We needed a change of direction with respect to how we did things, who we were and what we were about. That included some tough decisions, which resulted in a new four year plan. Firstly, to reduce to a single team and bring back our traditional rugby values. I was planning on growing the club back to two teams by the 2020/21 rugby season, but in light of the unprecedented influx of new players, as well new coaches, we are proud to be in a position to extend our club back to it’s original two teams earlier than planned.”

“Some days you’re the pigeon and others, you’re the statue.”

Last season, Saracens played in the UAE Conference League, now known as the UAE Division 1, winning eleven out of their thirteen games and narrowly missing out on a semi final place to Al Ain Amblers, who finished higher in the pool B group.

“It was a bitter pill to swallow. Some days you’re the pigeon and others, you’re the statue. The Dubai Tigers were worthy winners, as were all teams who went in to the final series. We have full respect for the competition structure and all of our opponents. This year is a different structure* and we’re expecting to deliver some exciting rugby to the competition. We’re incredibly proud to be able to field teams in both UAE Division 1 and UAE Division 2.”

Photo credit: Grant Winter

Reports show that numbers at training have continued to rise during pre season, which has led to the club’s decision to enter a second team into the lower Division 2 competition. When asked about the decision to enter a second side, new Chairman, Joe Cervantes said,

“With more than enough players for one team, I proposed to the committee that we simply cannot deny players who train and pay their subs the chance to play. Sarries exists to grow rugby in Abu Dhabi and the UAE in the style and traditions that only a rugby club can. We’ll always welcome players of any ability. Gulf Rugby Management have been very supportive as well and we’re proud of where we’ve come from these past few years.”

New coaching staff

Saracens welcome three new assistant coaches to their backroom staff for the 2019/20 season. Jason Brown from South Wales, who brings with him experience as a successful Head Coach of the Combined Services for the UK Military and other top level RAF and Military teams as both a player and coach. Steve Da Maré joins the club from Belgium where he played for the national team and later went on to coach at national level Colts and Ladies. Finally, Farrel Jacobs joins the coaching team as a retired Sarries first team player and now the club’s forwards coach.

saracens women's rugby

After finishing in the bottom half of the ladies rugby Sevens Series last year, the club will once again be entering a Ladies Team into this years’ competition. Coaches Luca Mene said,

“Our ladies team has a great mix of experienced players and newcomers – but it’s the atmosphere they bring to the club that’s what is really remarkable. We’re going from strength to strength again this year.”

Based at Al Ghazal Golf Club, Abu Dhabi Saracens train every Monday and Wednesday nights from 19:00 until 20:30. Al Ghazal has also undergone big improvements over the summer. The pitch has had all new lighting fixtures replaced and the rugby pitch levelled, ready for the start of the season.

Anyone interested in joining the club can do so by enquiring on their Saracens Rugby profile page.

*Gulf Rugby Management have dropped the split tables this season instead opting for a single league structure.