We’ve compiled all of this year’s Conference Rugby stats to show club performances throughout the 2018/19 season.
Amblers Rugby Club Tags
Amblers Host Eagles For Ladies XVs Encounter
After a long hard season of rugby 7s, and 10s tournaments, UAE women’s rugby teams, Dubai Eagles and Al Ain Amblers, came together to play the first leg of a mini 15s series at the Ambler’s home ground on Friday evening.
The 7s form of rugby between these two teams has always been a physical encounter, and this was no different. The Eagles side (a combination of their A, B and C teams) was under pressure from the start with the Amblers scoring an early try from what would be their main and prominent play – quick recycling of the ball to their power runners.
The Eagles, although putting in some impressive tackles, were under pressure off the rucks and the scrums. It was only when they did what brought them success at the 2018 Dubai Sevens, which was retaining the ball and work their support play, that they managed to get ball wide.
With the Amblers going in at half time 21-12 up, the Eagles knew they had to be patient, trust in their fitness, and work on their offloads and it paid off with an early try. Amblers responded by drawing the Eagles’ defence in and use width and a simple but effective two vs one out wide. This was to be the only try of the second half for the ladies from the Garden City as the Eagles started to find their rhythm, securing cleaner ball off the set piece and offloading to their dynamic runners to punch through and score out wide.
The final score was 46-26, with both teams exhausted and shuffling off the pitch to the cheers of the ever supportive Al Ain home crowd, after what was a true 15s battle.
We have a Choosday Chat with Amblers outside centre, Lucian Jansen.
Born: Cape town, South africa
Club: Al Ain Amblers
Position: Outside centre or wing
“We do have a few clowns in the team”
Do you have any nicknames?
Yes, I have two actually. One is “Hadji”, I was dubbed this name by my team mates back home because I was the only coloured, Indian looking rugby player in the team. Second one is Wakanda. I went on tour last year to Thailand and told my mate, Tito Asafo, every African looking person that walks past us I will do the Wakanda sign from the Black Panther movie and they will respond, which they did and the name just stuck. Half the team was doing ‘Wakanda forever’ throughout the tour.
Who or what inspired you to play rugby?
My high school athletics coach, Thys Ruthven, got me in to rugby mainly because the under 16s school rugby team needed speed and I was the only one keen to do it. That was my first time playing this lovely sport and from then I’ve never looked back.
What do you get up to in your spare time?
Braai, Smoking some Shisha, having a beer and spending time with family and friends, in that order :)
What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?
Wow, after being part of rugby for such a long time I haven’t given it much thought. I guess enjoying the finer things in life, smoking shisha and occasionally playing FIFA.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I can make a mean sponge cake or so I’ve been told.
Who’s the best dancer in the Amblers squad?
It has to be Tom “Run it straight” Hanks (Not the movie star!!).
Who do you listen to to get pumped for a match?
Baby shark, doo doo hahaha, just kidding. I listen to an American football motivational speech by Coach Flowers called “I am a champion”.
Who are the jokers at the Amblers?
We do have a few clowns in the team. To name a few I have to say definitely Alaa Samman, FC Holdt and I count myself too.
What are the best things about being part of Amblers RFC?
The brotherhood on and off the field, the culture and ethos of the Amblers team, oh also not forgetting the bus rides when playing away games.
What was the last takeaway you ordered?
That’s a no brainer, McDonalds because McDonalds is life!
Who would be your three dream dinner guests?
They would probably be Ma’a Nonu and Richie McCaw because it would be awesome to have dinner with those legends and Trevor Noah to add some comic entertainment.
Which opposition do you look forward to playing against the most?
I would have to say Harlequins, always a tough battle on the field.
Who has the worst Dress sense in the squad?
Sean Emmit “Gimmly”, our very own leprechaun ;) He is going to kill me.
Hows life in Al Ain?
Al Ain is good, been here about 2 years and loving it so far. Definitely an easy going life style. It’s an amazing place for my family.
Tigers Crowned 2018/19 UAE Conference Champions
In what has been the culmination of an unbeaten season for the Dubai Tigers, they managed to sweep aside a spirited Al Ain Amblers team in this years UAE Conference Final to be crowned 2018/19 Champions for the second time in back to back seasons. It was this time last year that they won a dramatic Conference final with an extra time golden try against Sharjah Wanderers.
Amblers started strong but with relentless attacking force of the Tigers they couldn’t hold on to what had been in large a very close fought contest at the Sevens Stadium in Dubai.
Final score 37-21 to the Dubai Tigers.
Highlights of the UAE Conference Final 2018/19
You can watch highlights of the match by clicking the video above.
The domestic season draws to a close this weekend with the now traditional end of season UAE Finals day which will see champions crowned in both the UAE Premiership and Conference. The action takes place at The Sevens this year, having previously been held at Dubai Sports City with events getting underway with an exhibition Veterans match at 13:00. As ever Yalla Rugby will be your place to go for updates on the season’s climax, if we witness anything like the dramatic conclusion to the West Asia Premiership final out in Bahrain, UAE rugby fans will be in for a treat.
UAE Premiership Final
With this year’s West Asia Rugby crown having been claimed by Bahrain, for the big names of UAE Rugby, this year’s UAE Premiership carries extra significance as the remaining chance for major silverware. The Dragons sprang something of a surprise in seeing off Exiles, runners up in the West Asia Final to qualify for this showpiece against an Abu Dhabi side who finished 17pts clear at the top of the UAE regular season standings and must go in as favourites. The capital city outfit also won all three of the regular season meetings between the two, although there were only four points difference in the most recent clash at Jebel Ali. Having claimed a historic ‘quintuple’ of domestic trophies in 2017, Quins have surprisingly not won a major final since then, falling to lacklustre defeats at both this year’s Dubai Sevens and last year’s UAE Premiership. This weekend looks an opportunity to reclaim their position as the top side in the country but will be wary of a Dragons side who will relish the opportunity to express themselves on the big stage.
UAE Conference Final
Reigning champions Tigers have swept all before them this year and this final will not only put their Conference title, but also the prospect of an unbeaten season on the line. The last time Tigers failed to win a game in 80mins was indeed in last season’s final, where a draw with Sharjah Wanderers was settled by an extra time golden try. Can Al Ain push them all the way here? The formbook suggests that they have every chance. The most recent meeting between the sides went Tigers’ way by a narrow three point margin, and they have the confidence of coming through what were a series of cup-finals of their own just to qualify for the knockouts ahead of Abu Dhabi Saracens. Two straight hard fought wins over a strong Dubai Hurricanes 2s team will ensure they go in battle hardened and Tigers must be wary of complacency if they are to end what has been a remarkable season with the trophy they will feel they deserve.
Article by: Huw Harrow
A look back at the final round of regular season action in the top two leagues, and our first taste of knockout rugby in both the Premiership and Community leagues.
Jump right in…
Team of the Week – Al Ain Amblers 1s
One of this most intriguing storylines to evolve from this season has been the rivalry between Al Ain Amblers and Abu Dhabi Saracens as both looked to secure the second Pool B semi-final slot, behind the dominant Dubai Tigers. An impressive 34-22 away win at Hurricanes 2s sealed qualification for the Amblers and indeed second place in the combined league table having lost only three matches this year (two coming against Tigers). They must now repeat the trick in the semi finals as, despite a larger points haul, Canes will enjoy home advantage due to the fact they were top of Pool A.
West Asia Premiership
Bahrain and Dubai Exiles will contest the final next week in Bahrain after both winning their semi finals this weekend. Bahrain will go in as favourites, having topped the league rankings they underlined their pedigree in crushing Jebel Ali Dragons 56-7. Exiles upset Abu Dhabi Harlequins 31-16 at Zayed Sports City to earn their place in the showpiece. The season will then culminate with the UAE Premiership semi finals offering Quins, Exiles, Dragons and Hurricanes (who missed out on the West Asia knockouts) another chance for silverware at finals day.
The aforementioned Amblers were the big winners of the weekend in claiming the only playoff spot left up for grabs. Abu Dhabi Saracens benefitted from a forfeit by Exiles 2s to also gain a 5pt win, but Amblers superior point difference takes them through by the finest of margins. In the only dead-rubber match to go ahead, Dragons 2s eased past Sharks 41-12.
UAE Conference Semi Final Line-up (March 22)
Dubai Hurricanes 2s (A1) v Al Ain Amblers (B2), Dubai Tigers (B1) v Jebel Ali Dragons 2s (A2)
The semi final fixtures took place last weekend and as widely expected it will be Barrelhouse and Dragons 3s who meet to contest the honours on finals day. There was nearly a shock in the first semi final however, with Barrelhouse surprisingly pushed all the way by a Harlequins 3s side, perhaps benefitting from absence of a 2s fixture. In the end, Barrelhouse edged out a 19-15 win and will look to complete an unbeaten season by winning the final. Dragons’ qualification was somewhat more straightforward, overcoming a spirited RAK Rugby side 31-5.
UAE Community Final (March 8)
Barrelhouse v Jebel Ali Dragons 3s
Article by: Huw Harrow
More action this week from the West Asia Premiership and UAE Conference rugby league.
Jump right in…
Team of the Week – Al Ain Amblers
Al Ain coming away from Jebel Ali with a comprehensive 45-21 win, over a side that had previously lost on just one occasion this season might be seen as the upset of the round. Though that would overlook the fact that the Amblers were only a whisker away from toppling league leaders Tigers last week and seem to have run into a rich vein of form at just the right time of the season. If they can hold off Abu Dhabi Saracens for a playoff spot, they will be a threat in the knockout stages.
West Asia Premiership
On paper this week’s main event was the top of the table clash between Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Bahrain, but with the away side winning in irresistible fashion, narrowly missing out of putting 50pts on Quins, the drama ended up being found elsewhere. DSC Eagles suffered a heart-breaking loss to Dubai Hurricanes, a match that is becoming a real rivalry in Dubai. Canes clinched it 27-25 with a last second try in spite of a large period of stout Eagles goal line resistance, leaving the hosts rooted to the foot of the table and still without a win. It was just as close fought in the other Dubai derby between Jebel Ali Dragons and Dubai Exiles, the Exiles claiming a four point win which moves them up to third in the West Asia standings.
All change in the fixture lists at Conference level as sides in the 1s group and 2s group played against one another for the first time. The top 1s sides recorded some impressive results with Abu Dhabi Saracens keeping pace with the aforementioned Amblers thanks to an away win 49-7 over DSC Eagles 2s. Hurricanes 2s were the other big winners of the round, with their comfortable away win at Arabian Knights coupled with Dragons 2s loss seeing the Canes take over as the top ranked 2s side and gain pole position for a favourable playoff draw. The Sharks and Exiles forfeited their games, giving both Tigers 1s and Quins 2s easy bonus point wins.
Article by: Huw Harrow
2018/19 Gulf Rugby Season Preview
The start of the 2018/19 Gulf Rugby season is now upon us and with pre-season in full swing at most of the nation’s rugby clubs, it’s time to look ahead at the action in store for us and see how all of the domestic league competitions are shaping up. The summer has not been without its usual period of change as clubs come to terms with the usual spate of player arrivals and departures. Here’s what we know about how things will line up this season.
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UAE/West Asia Premiership
Holders: Jebel Ali Dragons (West Asia) and Dubai Exiles (UAE)
Format: A straight league set up with all sides playing each other home and away over three rounds (Home, Away, Home). The champions of the West Asia Premiership will be decided between the top four teams after all league rounds are complete via playoff semi finals and final. Likewise, the top four UAE based outfits (discarding results against Bahrain) will have a semi final playoff to see who will play on finals day for the right to be crowned UAE Premiership Champions.
Ins and Outs: After a difficult season which saw them finish bottom of the pile with only one win, Abu Dhabi Saracens have decided to be relegated to the Conference league this year as they embark on a rebuilding phase.
Holders: Dubai Tigers
Format: Pay attention because things are about to get a little complicated in the second tier of Gulf rugby!
The ten UAE Conference sides have been split into two groups who will each play home and away fixtures during the first half of the season. Group A are formed of all UAE Premiership represented clubs and Group B are all other UAE rugby clubs. They will all fall under one league table this year with no split league as seen in previous years.
Part two of the season will see the sides face opposition from outside their group but only once. Points earned are added to their initial group totals. The season then culminates with the top two sides from each group entering the knockout stages with the Conference final scheduled for the end of March 2019.
Harlequins 2s, Eagles 2s, Exiles 2s, Hurricanes 2s, Dragons 2s
Ins and Outs: The Conference league was dealt a blow this week with the withdrawal of last season’s runners up and one of the UAE’s oldest rugby clubs, Sharjah Wanderers, citing lack of numbers. They will be replaced by the Dubai Eagles 2s who played their first season of Community rugby last year. Abu Dhabi Saracens 1s have dropped down from the UAE and will only field one team this season.
Holders: Abu Dhabi Harlequins 3s
Format: An initial league stage with each side playing each other once, aiming to secure a top two finish and a place at finals day where the champions will be decided.
Ins and Outs: Unsurprisingly for a league that fluctuated in size over the course of last season, the UAE Community rugby competition has seen its fair share of off-season activity. Barrelhouse, a club that is well established on the 7s circuit, make a welcome league debut whilst the Shaheen have also signalled an intent to return to the competition this year. Dubai Tigers’ expanding squad size sees them enter a 2s team for the first time. The Dubai Hurricanes will not field a 3rd team this year so will not participate in Community rugby. Disappointment comes in the shape of the Beaver Nomads, traditionally a team to beat at Community level, being forced to withdraw from this year’s competition.
Holders: Dubai Eagles
Format: We’ll be doing a dedicated Womens Rugby article closer to their first set of fixtures (5th October), but to give you an idea of what to expect this season, there will be eight rounds of rugby where we’ll see Sevens rugby played at Harlequins, Hurricanes, Amblers, Saracens, Sharjah, Tigers and finally Eagles.
This season, there will be an invitational 15-a-side match held on finals day at The Sevens Stadium, alongside the other mens rugby Premiership, Conference and Community league finals which will be held on the 29th March 2019 which should bring the close to the season to an exciting climax this year with all levels featured on the final day.
Mini & Junior Rugby
This season we will hopefully see the Mini and Youth Rugby results and league tables featured for the first time on the website. We’re really looking forward to bringing you as much of the rugby action as possible here in the Middle East, so be sure to check back on a weekly basis.
Article by: Huw Harrow
Womens Rugby Union in Al Ain And The Rest Of The UAE Soaring In Popularity
Inspired by their favourite international players, ladies rugby is soaring in popularity in the UAE
One team leading the charge are Al Ain Amblers Ladies, who stormed to a B League title in early March following an emphatic win over Dubai Eagles Ladies and now enter the new season with a brand new sponsorship deal from Audi UAE.
“We had a great last season with some fantastic results,” says their coach, Martha Dyer, “We have a great set of girls who can’t wait to make our mark on the new season and proud that Audi are supporting them.”
Women’s rugby is one of Al Ain Rugby Club’s fastest-growing sports, with over 30 women starting the season this year, twice as many as in 2016 and a thriving girls’ mini/youth rugby section.
Vice Chair for the Amblers and seasoned player – Emma Tapuai said: “One of rugby’s attractions is that it’s something new that enables women to break a traditionally patriarchal stereotype, as well as benefiting physically, mentally and socially at the same time.”
The Amblers ladies wishes the best of luck to all the women’s rugby teams participating in the Women’s Gulf Leagues this season and looks forward to another year of promoting women’s rugby in the UAE.
Article By: Hannah Hall
Ambler’s Head Coach – Grobler Excited Season Ahead
“At Al Ain Amblers, it’s not just a game, we’re brothers coming together to prepare”.
Grobler has been involved in coaching and physical conditioning for years in his hometown and played an active role for the Amblers in the Conference League last year after moving to the UAE.
“The boys seemed to buy into his plans and our first week of training showed their keenness to learn”
Director of Rugby at the Amblers, Rocco De Bruyn said; “I am very pleased and happy with his vision and positivity for the season ahead. The boys seemed to buy into his plans and our first week of training showed their keenness to learn and apply his plan of action. Supporting Grobler will be Sean Emmett, George Taunga and Jakes Terblanche who will form the rest of the men’s rugby coaching panel at the club.
The Amblers finished in the Bottom 4 of the UAE Conference League last season and went on to win the B5 final against Jebel Ali Dragons, beating them 24 points to 16. It was only at the beginning of the 2017/18 season that they took the decision to withdraw their 1st XV from UAE Premiership rugby, which forced them to regroup and refocus in the Conference league. In a very similar move to that of the Amblers, the Abu Dhabi Saracens were recently forced to withdraw their 1st XV from top flight expat rugby.
Al Ain Amblers speedster Hannah Hall talks Baywatch style rescues, local driving etiquette and chucking salt
Age: We don’t ask!
Born: Gloucester, United Kingdom
Club: Al Ain Amblers
Position: Wing/Scrum Half
“Simultaneously the scariest and most embarrassing moment of my life!”
What do you get up to in your spare time?
(laughs) Spare time isn’t something I’m familiar with but I try and grab as much time in the gym as possible.
What annoys you?
When I am driving and I give way to someone but they don’t say thank you. Grrrrr!
Do you have any nicknames?
Pocket Rocket. I’m small enough to fit in your pocket and run like a rocket!
I have issues with passing someone else on the stairs or dropping salt and having to throw it over my shoulder afterwards. You don’t want to be within a 2 metre radius of me when that happens!
Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?
Do you think The All Blacks would fit in a lift?
If you could be one of your team-mates, who would it be?
Definitely Courtney because she always looks so stylish.
Who are the jokers at Amblers WRFC?
My entire team! It’s always a laugh a minute with them.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Well I didn’t know I would be any good at playing rugby until 12 months ago so I’d have to say that.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Basking Robbins sundaes, they rock!
Who does the cooking at home?
Me. I do everything.
What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?
Being a good Mum.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
I’d like to be able to freeze things… I love the snow!
Most embarrassing moment?
Getting stuck on the rocks as the tide had come in around me, whilst exploring a beach in Sydney. Anyway, to cut a long story short. I had to be rescued, by a lifeguard who looked about twelve years old, in an inflatable dinghy whilst the entire beach watched. Simultaneously the scariest and most embarrassing moment of my life!
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Whats New With The UAE Conference League?
- Dubai Wasps will not compete this year
- Abu Dhabi Saracens 2s drop to the Community league
- Arabian Knights and Dubai Sharks to play at new home venues
Will the Al Ain resurgence continue?
It was a tumultuous season last time round for the men from the Garden City. After dropping out of the Premiership a mere two games in to the competition, citing an inability to field a team, they found life easier in the Conference racking up some big wins en route to finals day. A loss in a thrilling contest with Harlequins 2s will no doubt motivate the Amblers to go one better this time around. The Amblers once again cite player retention as having been a challenge over the summer but under the guidance of new head coach Sean Emmett a more stable club environment and a core of players at their disposal who have competed at Premiership level should see them prosper.
Can anyone gate crash the top half?
The late season top-bottom half make up has had a familiar look to it in recent seasons with Dubai Tigers and Dubai Sharks contesting the bottom half final for two years running. Both must surely go in to this season with sights firmly set on a top half finish this year and competing for greater honours. Recent form suggests the Tigers are the better bet, having emerged victorious on finals day and bolstered their coaching ranks over the summer with the addition of the experienced Peter Kelly. Both the Sharks and Arabian Knights have both had to contend with the upheaval of losing their home ground at Sports City to the new boys, Dubai Eagles, but both remain confident that their player base will remain loyal with the Knights securing a prime new venue at Kings College Barsha and Sharks playing this seasons rugby at Jebal Ali Centre of Excellence.
Article by: Huw Harrow
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Inaugural UAE Rugby Grand Finals Day to be played On Friday April 7th
UAE Rugby will host their inaugural Grand Finals Day on Friday, April 7th, at Dubai Sports City’s Rugby Park in Dubai.
“We are extremely pleased to bring the inaugural UAE Rugby Grand Finals Day to our rugby-loving community. Each year we are thrilled with the level of rugby we witness across our domestic league, and the finals have always drawn enthusiastic supporters. We are confident that bringing all three leagues together into one day will enhance the excitement and raise the profile of the league’s top-ranked teams.” said Qais Al Dhalai, UAE Rugby Secretary General.
Finals games kick off at 1pm with Abu Dhabi Harlequins competing against Jebel Ali Dragons in the third-tier Community League, followed at 3pm with two deciding games from the second-tier Conference League; Bottom 5 between Heartbeat Tigers and Dubai Sharks and Top 6 between Al Ain Amblers and Abu Dhabi Harlequins. At 5pm, the Federation’s elite Premiership League will play-out between Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Jebel Ali Dragons.
Alongside this rugby-fest will be mouth-watering food and beverage options as well as fantastic giveaways and prizes. Entry to join in the Finals Day fun, and watch quality domestic rugby, is free.
Why not re-live all of the 2016/17 UAE Rugby season by viewing our Match Day Photo Gallery.
Breaking 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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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
After a quiet few months off, the UAE conference tournament is back for what looks to be an exciting season of rugby. The opening weekend saw some great matches take place across the UAE.
Defending champions Sharjah Wanderers began their campaign with a comfortable 34-7 win over the Dubai Sharks, showing their intent for back-to-back Conference triumphs.
The Arabian Knights lost a hard fought battle with the Wasps 15-29. The Knights seemed to win the battle of the forwards for the majority of the match but in the end discipline let them down and the Wasps made them pay for their mistakes.
The Dragons 2nd XV cruised to an impressive 58-3 win over the Al Ain Amblers 2nd XV, announcing that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with this season.
The final match saw the Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2nd XV go head to head with the Dubai Exiles 2nd XV. With both sides having finished in the top half of the table last season neither team wanted to drop points on the opening weekend. The result went the way of the Exiles who ran away with it to win 41-5.
A look ahead to this weekends UAE Rugby
The action continues this weekend coming with round 2 of the UAE Conference taking place, the pick of the matches is the Hurricanes 2nd XV taking on the Dragons 2nd XV, both teams have ambitions to finish in the top half of the table and the Dragons will definitely want to continue the great start they have made to the season.
Thats not all thats taking place this weekend with the beginning of both the UAE Premiership and Community League. The Premiership sees The Amblers entertaining the Abu Dhabi Saracens and the Dubai Hurricanes taking on the Abu Dhabi Harlequins. The match to watch in the Community League has the be the Beaver Nomads against the Sharks 2nd XV, the Nomads will be looking to defend their title this season and will hope to start it off with a win.
By Tom Davies
We kick off 2016 with the West Asia Championship this Friday, January 8th, with 3 thrilling encounters to be played in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Friday’s first game will see Al Ain Amblers play Doha at Al Ain Amblers home ground at 3pm, in the second game Dubai Exiles take on Muscat at Dubai’s Sevens Stadium at 3.30pm, and the final game of the day will see the Abu Dhabi Saracens against Bahrain at the Al Ghazal ground – 5pm.
The West Asia Championship consists of the top 9 teams from across the GCC and will be played through to mid-March 2016. The top 9 teams, competing in the championship are; Al Ain Amblers, Abu Dhabi Harlequins, Abu Dhabi Saracens, Dubai Exiles, Dubai Hurricanes, Jebel Ali Dragons, Doha, Bahrain and Muscat.
UAE Rugby’s Conference and Community leagues re-start next weekend, Friday January 15th.
UAE Rugby Dubai Eden Park Sevens (7’s) Series
The UAE Rugby Federation (UAERF) has announced the dates for this years UAE Rugby Dubai Eden Park Sevens (7’s) Series. The popular tournament will spread over two Fridays; the first round on November 20th at the Dubai Sharks home ground at Dubai Sports, with the final round being played at Al Ain Amblers Rugby Club (Al Ain) on Friday November 27th.
“UAERF is very proud to bring the UAE Rugby Eden Park 7’s two-day tournament to the UAE rugby community for a fourth year, and we are delighted this tournament has become a firm fixture on the domestic calendar. This time of the year sees the rugby mindset shift sharply from the XV’s to the 7’s format and, with most UAE clubs participating in the Gulf Men’s Open division of the highly-popular Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby 7’s, we are pleased to provide a strong platform for our clubs to prepare.” said Qais Al Dhalai, UAE Rugby Federation’s Secretary General. “We expect to see quality 7’s rugby played and wish all clubs an enjoyable two-day tournament.”
Franck Mesnel, founder of Eden Park commented, “Eden Park, and I, are proud of our long standing relationship with the UAE Rugby Federation. We are encouraged by the development of rugby in the GCC region and the commitment shown by the UAERF to transmit the values of the game across a wide spectrum of nationalities and level of skill. We are very pleased to see the Eden Park 7’s series become a popular, permanent fixture in the calendar, and we hope it will continue to contribute to the development of 7’s in the country, both for expatriates and UAE Nationals alike.”
After the Shaheen’s performance at the recent Dubai Airports International Sevens Tournament, Apollo Perelini (Shaheen’s 7’s and XV’s Coach) believes his team will be in a good position to capitalise on the experience and put forward another quality performance at the Eden Park 7’s. “We’ve seen reasonable progress with the local Emirati players over the past few months. And by being exposed to another high-level 7’s tournament, and participating in the Eden Park 7’s, I am confident these players will develop a stronger belief in their skills and gain more trust in their abilities. We’ll be fielding 2 (all-Emirati) Shaheen teams and the aim at series end will be to select a strong Emirati side to contest the Gulf Men’s Open division at the Dubai Rugby 7’s.” “I’m looking forward to seeing how both Shaheen sides perform at the (Eden Park 7’s) tournament.”
Alongside the action on the pitch, both Dubai Sports City and the Al Ain Rugby Club 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 days out. “We encourage, and look forward to all rugby supporters joining us for what will be 2 great days of domestic 7’s rugby” added Mohamed Shaker, UAERF Board Member.
Both days’ fixtures are expected to start mid-morning and spectator entry to each tournament is free.