Abu Dhabi Saracens Rugby Club have gone on the offensive leading into the 2018-19 UAE rugby season
Internally, Saracens announced their 2018/19 campaign plans last week to their club players and members. Last season’s UAE Premiership bottom place finishers will be holding a ‘no-nonsense’ player meeting behind closed doors on 20th June, followed by the launch of their pre season training campaign the following day on their home turf at Al Ghazal Golf Club, Abu Dhabi.
“This season our players will know that the gloves are off”
Head Coach Peter Henderson explains, “Last season I was thrust into the position of Head Coach. I didn’t have the time nor the resources that was needed and it showed. This season our players will know that the gloves are off. I know what is required to play and win at this level and last year we missed the mark.”
Last season, Sarries saw an exodus of all but a few of their 1st team due to player dissatisfaction of the previous era. The results weren’t what they would have liked but as Chairman Jakes Basson says,
“We didn’t give up. Sure, we had many set backs, almost on a daily basis, but we didn’t give up and we finished the season. We have now set in motion a new club culture and values that we will not compromise on.”
The club have been bolstered this year with several new signings that they hope will strengthen the club’s depth and talent. On player recruitment, Henderson commented, “To be honest we have an open door policy both in terms of recruitment and selection. No favourites, not ever. As a player I’ve been at the wrong end of a coach’s inner circle and also been inside it. So I refuse to let that happen. We offer the chance to every player to play top level rugby if that is their goal.”
Saracens will enter teams into the Premiership and the second tier Conference League in the new season, a change from last season where their second team (internally known as the “OGs” or “Other Guys”) played in the third tier Community, finishing second from bottom in the league standings. The club took the decision to enter their 2nd team into the Community League at the beginning of the 2017/18 season as they felt they needed to restructure and rebuild whilst also providing an avenue for the more social players to continue to play. With numbers growing, and a revitalised culture and belief from their committee and coaching staff the OG’s will now play at a higher standard where they hope to improve player depth and to narrow the gap between Premiership and the Conference league again.
As well as senior mens teams, Saracens have a growing ladies rugby team and are looking to relaunch their mini/junior rugby program aimed at children of all ages. Being located so close to a major expat area (Al Raha Beach), the club hopes to offer the enjoyment of being part of a rugby club in Abu Dhabi to everyone. With a licensed premises, the club can offer beverages and the odd BBQ or Braai right on the touchline, something extremely unique to match days and events.