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UAE Set to Return to Asia Rugby Division 1

uae rugby division 2 champions 2019

Photo credit to Asia Rugby

UAE With Another Big Win in Thailand

After thumping Guam in the semi finals of the Division 2 Championship, UAE Rugby took on their hosts, Thailand, in a Championship Cup Final showdown to earn head coach, Apollo Perelini and his (some might say strongest to date) UAE side promotion up to the Asia Rugby Division One league next season. They will join the likes of the Singapore, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Chinese Taipei. The Division One Championship is due to kick off next week in Taipei City, Taiwan.

Saturday’s match against Thailand looked to be heading for another pasting for the opposition facing an in form UAE squad, as they went in at half time 45 points up on the hosts, but credit to a resilient Thai side, they managed to put 12 points on the scoreboard in the second half and only allow a content UAE side to add another 5 points to complete up a successful campaign back to Division One. Perelini praised his team saying;

“The boys did me proud, even though they put the cue on the rack at half time.”

stephen ferguson uae rugby player

#sureheknowshimself – Stephen Ferguson

It’s been a phenomenal year for Exiles lock forward – Stephen Ferguson, following what started as a pretty rocky start to the season with injury woes, to come through the second half of the season fighting fit again and ending up in the UAE National squad.

Collectively Perelini’s squad have totalled 132 points and conceded just 19 in their Asia Rugby Championship campaign of 2019. Over the two matches, Botes scored 5 tries, Natuna with 4, Naisau and Richards both getting 3, Ferguson with 2 and Anderson, Armitage and Stevenson getting one each. UAE Captain and Harlequins fly-half Luke Stevenson’s kicking rate was impressive, converting 16 of the 20 tries.

UAE now head home for a well deserved break and will be saying farewell to stand-in defensive coach, Louie Tonkin, who heads for pastures new after leading newly crowned West Asia Champions of 2018/19, Bahrain Rugby following a close encounter with Dubai Exiles back in March. Tonkin will be heading to Exeter Chiefs RFC in England to take up a coaching role with the academy.

UAE vs Thailand, 18th May 2019

Tries: Ferguson (2), Natuna (2), Richards (2), Botes, Stevenson

Conversions: Stevenson (5)

UAE Head For Final Showdown Against Thailand

UAE play Thailand rugby Asia rugby cup

UAE Thrash Guam in the Semi Final of Asia Rugby Championship

The UAE International rugby side have their sites firmly set on a return to Division One of Asia Rugby, having plowed their way past Guam in a first of two fixtures in Thailand, beating them in convincing style 82-7. To gain automatic promotion to Division One, they will need to beat Thailand on Saturday 18th May in the Cup Final of the Division Two Championship.

With a reformed side, built up of UAE Premiership rugby clubs, Eagles, Exiles, Dragons, Harlequins and Hurricanes, head coach Apollo Perelini will be looking to climb the ranks of World Rugby.

Ranked 70th in the World Rugby leaderboard, the UAE played 69th place – Guam in the semi final in Hua Hin, on Wednesday and put a flurry of points past them with Dubai Exiles backrow Jaen Botes and Dubai Hurricanes centre Sakiusa Naisau both getting their a hat-trick of tries.

Tries: Jaen Botes (4), Sakiusa Naisau (3), Kini Natuna (2), Hamish Anderson, Ed Armitage, Matt Richards.

Conversions: Luke Stevenson (11)

Premiership Rugby By Numbers

We’ve compiled all of this year’s Premiership Rugby stats to show club performances throughout the 2018/19 season.

National Rugby Squad Announced For Thailand Championships

uae national rugby squad announcement 2019

Perelini Announces His 27 Man UAE Rugby Squad Ahead Of Thailand Championships In May

High Performance Manager and Coach of the UAE National Rugby team Apollo Perelini has announced his squad to train for this years Division 2 Asia Rugby Championships which will be held in Bangkok, Thailand. The UAE Squad will play their first game on the 15th May against Guam at the multi-purpose Chalerm Phrakiat Bang Bon Stadium in Bangkok. Other opponents in their Division 2 Pool table will be Thailand and Kazakhstan, with the final being played on the 18th May.

Perelini announced his 27 man squad to the players on the eve of the UAE Premiership Final which saw the Abu Dhabi Harlequins regain their crown as Champions of UAE Rugby 2019. The UAE Rugby squad includes 8 players from Harlequins, 7 players from Exiles, 3 from Hurricanes, 3 from Eagles, 3 from Shaheen and 3 players from Dragons.  Training sessions will happen over the coming weeks in preparation for the departure to Thailand on the 12th May.

stephen ferguson uae rugby player

Dubai Exiles lock forward Stephen Ferguson will be looking to make his UAE National team debut having just missed out last year due to the residency threshold. Ferguson said,

“To be selected in the UAE squad has been an absolute dream. I came here over 3 years ago to play rugby for the Dubai Exiles under Coach Jaques Benade and it never entered my mind that I’d still be here now and in the UAE National XV squad. The standard of the players in the squad list is unreal and it’s getting better every year. There’s still lots of hard work to do over the coming 6 weeks to put a claim in to get in the tour squad. And it’s one you really have to relish. I’m really pleased to be selected and I’m looking forward to the next few weeks. Time to knuckle down and put in some hard yards.”

Harlequins
Exiles
Hurricanes
Eagles
Shaheen
Dragons

Backs

  • Emosi Vecanua (Abu Dhabi Harlequins)
  • Luke Stevenson (Abu Dhabi Harlequins)
  • Andrew Powell (Dubai Hurricanes)
  • Sakiusa Naisau (Dubai Hurricanes)
  • Niko Volavola (Jebel Ali Dragons)
  • Kini Natuna (Abu Dhabi Harlequins)
  • Matthew Richards (Jebel Ali Dragons)
  • Thinus Steyn (Dubai Exiles)
  • Sean Carey (Dubai Eagles)
  • Edward Armitage (Dubai Exiles)
  • Majid Al Balooshi (Dubai Shaheen)
  • Mohamed Suleiman (Dubai Shaheen)

Forwards

  • Chris Jones-Griffiths (Abu Dhabi Harlequins)
  • Craig Nutt (Abu Dhabi Harlequins)
  • Lucas Waddington (Dubai Exiles)
  • Murray Reason (Abu Dhabi Harlequins)
  • Gio Fourie (Dubai Exiles)
  • Ahmed Moosa (Dubai Shaheen)
  • Daniel Perry (Jebel Ali Dragons)
  • Isaac Porter (Dubai Eagles)
  • Esekaia Dranibota (Abu Dhabi Harlequins)
  • Mohamed Hassan (Dubai Eagles)
  • Matt Mills (Dubai Exiles)
  • Sean Stevens (Abu Dhabi Harlequins)
  • Jaen Botes (Dubai Exiles)
  • Hamish Anderson (Dubai Hurricanes)
  • Stephen Ferguson (Dubai Exiles)

Bahrain Edge Past Exiles In Late West Asia Premiership Final Drama

Bahrain Rugby Club 2019

It is often said that Rugby is a game of fine margins, and no one will better attest to that than those who witnessed the heart-stopping finale of this year’s West Asia Premiership in Bahrain. The home side ran out 23-21 winners, yet for a fleeting moment, it was the Dubai Exiles celebrating victory as Durand Gerber’s last gasp 50m penalty sailed straight and true towards the uprights. A cluster of red shirts under the posts frantically indicated that the kick had fallen just short, and time stood still until, after consultation with his assistants, the UAERF Referee – Tony Duminy confirmed their verdict. Cue pandemonium in the stands and enormous relief for a Bahrain side who had looked to be cruising towards the title just moments earlier.

Leon Mauer’s penalty with just ten minutes on the clock had restored a 10 point cushion for the home team who had led 17-6 at half time and came into this fixture undefeated since falling to Exiles at The Sevens in October. Exiles though, having hung in there for large periods of the encounter played out in-front of a partisan Bahrain crowd began to take control of the tight exchanges as Bahrain seemingly caught the jitters.

Durandt Gerber Dubai Exiles fly half

First a scrum penalty with just 4 mins on the clock was converted by Gerber to reduce the arrears to one converted score. Then after a series of further infringements at the breakdown helped the visitors gain field position, they worked an opening on the right flank for winger Stubbs to score with what would have been the last play of the game. With tensions boiling over ahead of the prospect of extra time, Bahrain were adjudged to be the guilty party in instigating an off the ball altercation meaning that Exiles would restart with a penalty on half way and a chance to win the game outright with the final kick, even after the touchline conversion drifted wide.

The thrilling climax had looked unlikely for much of the game, Bahrain having taken an early lead through a converted score by centre Jack Phillips. A second Phillips score from a perfectly executed set piece move and the boot of Ross Preedy had at one stage built up a 20-6 advantage before a much improved second half showing from Exiles nearly culminated in the most dramatic of smash and grab raids.

As impressive as Exiles’ comeback was on the day, few can begrudge Bahrain their slice of luck in holding on at the death. They have been the outstanding team in this year’s West Asia Premiership competition by some way and hosted a fitting showpiece occasion for the final – which can be relived in full courtesy of Bahrain’s facebook live video.

Article By: Huw Harrow

West Asia Premiership Final Preview

west asia premiership gulf rugby final 2019

Bahrain v Dubai Exiles (KO: 17:00 UTC+3, Saar, Bahrain)

After 47 fixtures and over 2,500 points scored, this season’s West Asia Premiership reaches its climax on Friday with a grand final to decide the 2019 Champions. Here’s what you need to know.

When and where is it on?

The final will be hosted by Bahrain at their home ground in Saar. Having gone into the end of season playoffs as number one seeds, they earn the right to stage the final at home in front of the so-called ‘red wall’ of support. The event promises a carnival atmosphere with live music and kids entertainment, entry is free for club members and BAR2 for guests. Kick-off is scheduled for 17:00 but if you can’t make it to the game in person, Bahrain are planning to run a live stream via the club’s facebook page.

How did they get there?

Finishing first and third respectively after 15 rounds of regular season games, saw both sides through to last weekend’s semi-finals. Top seeds Bahrain benefitted from home advantage, cruising to a 56-7 win over reigning champions Jebel Ali Dragons. Exiles faced a tougher assignment, away to Abu Dhabi Harlequins side who had finished 13pts above them in the final league standings, coming away with an upset 31-16 win.

What does the formbook say?

It would be difficult to argue against Bahrain going into the final as favourites. Any away fixture in Saar is a tough assignment for sides having to take the morning flight across the Arabian Gulf – let alone in a season where Bahrain have been beaten only once in the XVs format. Intriguingly however, the only side to have got the better of them this season, is in fact the Exiles, in a 31-20 win back in October at The Sevens. The recent return fixture saw a Bahrain win by an identical margin of 11pts. So in head to head fixtures there is nothing to choose between the two and Exiles will fancy themselves as the side to halt the Bahrain juggernaut at the final hurdle.

Adam Wallace Bahrain RFC captain

Bahrain Captain: Adam Wallace

Bahrain Captain Adam Wallace is relishing the upcoming match against Exiles. He said;

“Winning the title at home would mean everything to us. As a squad we talk a lot about giving back to the club and being able to repay their support with knockout games and title playoffs is massive for us. We have a fantastic fanbase at the club and that’s seen every week in the size of our crowd and we know that without that we wouldn’t be where we are today. As the only club on the island we get huge support from everyone. The club itself will benefit massively on the day, but if this had been an away game you would have seen an entire crowd of redshirts making their way over to the UAE this weekend and I think that’s rare out here. We’re expecting a big turnout this weekend and the #redwall will be out in force.”

“There have been some issues with the league structure over the past couple of seasons and we are well aware that we are the only team outside of the UAE since Doha’s exclusion. Winning the title this weekend will hopefully cement the idea that inter-gulf rugby must continue if you want to have the most competitive league and continue to develop the sport in the region.”

The Lineups

Bahrain: TBC
Dubai Exiles: TBC

Article By: Huw Harrow

Who Do You Think Will Win The West Asia Premiership?

Vote For Your West Asia Premiership Winner 2018
Below you can vote for who you think will win this years West Asia Premiership 2018/19. Simply click on an image to choose your winning team!

Click on a team to vote

Please wait a second for the results calculate…

Your Gulf Rugby 2018/19 Season Preview

gulf rugby season preview 2018

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.

Jump Right In

UAE/West Asia Premiership

West Asia Premiership season 2018-19

UAE Premiership season 2018-19

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.

UAE/West Asia Premiership Teams

Bahrain, Dragons, Eagles, Exiles, Harlequins Hurricanes

UAE Conference

UAE conference season preview 2018-19

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.

UAE Conference Teams

Group A:
Harlequins 2s, Eagles 2s, Exiles 2s, Hurricanes 2s, Dragons 2s

Group B:
Amblers, Saracens, Knights, Sharks, Tigers

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.

UAE Community

UAE Community season preview 2018-19

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.

UAE Community Teams

Amblers 2s, Barrelhouse 1s, Dragons 3s, Harlequins 3s, RAK 1s, Shaheen 1s, Sharks 2s, Tigers 2s

uae womens rugby season preview 2018

Womens Rugby

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.

uae mini youth rugby season preview 2018

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

Choosday Chat With Exiles Centre Alice Luckhurst

Alice Luckhurst Dubai exiles u18s gurls

Dubai Exiles U18’s Centre Alice Luckhurst talks travel, tongue skills and the All Black Ferns

FACT FILE

Age: 16
Born: Dubai, UAE
Club: Dubai Exiles
Position: Centre
Height: 169cm

“They lifted our players onto their shoulders for photos, it was really cool.”

What’s been your proudest moment playing rugby in Dubai?

Winning every tournament in the season when I played touch U15’s rugby for the Dubai Exiles.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

In my spare time I like to see friends, go to the beach and do some Wakeboarding and hit the gym.

What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen or heard on a rugby pitch?

When we trained with the Black Ferns (All Blacks Ladies 7s team) rugby squad before last years Dubai 7s, they lifted our players onto their shoulders for photos, it was really cool!

Do you have any phobias?

Crunching! I hate hearing people eat, especially crisps.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

I’d love to be able to fly, so I could beat all the traffic!

If you could be one of your team-mates, who would it be?

It would be Sami Dronfield. She’s an all round amazing player. Skilful, fast powerful, strong and talented!

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

To graduate, get a degree and to travel the world!

Do you have any hidden talents?

Yes, I can fold my tongue into 3. Most people curl their tongue at the front but I can do the sides as well!

Who does the cooking at home?

Mum and Dad usually but my brothers and I enjoy cooking too, especially sushi.

What do you miss most about England?

Family mainly, but I don’t miss that much as I was born here so I see Dubai as my home.

Who’s the best dancer in the Exiles team.

Sophie Millward, she’s got all the moves.

What are the best things about playing for the Exiles?

The best thing about being a member of the Exiles RFC is the social events that happen throughout the year and everyone gets on well with each other. It’s fun and not too serious.

Choosday Chat With Exiles Back Row Jaen Botes

Jaen Botes UAE rugby player

Dubai Exiles and UAE International rugby player Jaen Botes talks spiders, spaghetti hoops, and super models with us.

FACT FILE

Age: 28 (5th March 1990)
Born: Pretoria, South Africa
Club: Dubai Exiles
Position: Back Row
Height: 196cm
Weight: 113kg
UAE 15’s Caps: 6
UAE 7’s Caps: 13

What do you get up to in your spare time during the off season?

The last few seasons I’ve just been trying to keep busy, whether it’s in the gym or on an empty rugby field. Plus, I’m not gonna lie, I do like to increase my appetite!

Whats the weirdest thing you’ve experienced on a rugby pitch?

A team player once had a massive crying fit at halftime on the pitch. It happened here in the UAE, was an awkward experience and I didn’t know what to do.

Do you have any nicknames?

The UAE boys call me “Shelf”, I always refer to my midsection as my shelf and how I treat it and wish it wasn’t always on display.

Do you have any phobias?

I have a few but the worst one must be Spiders… I can’t stand them.

Whats the most challenging thing about playing rugby here in Dubai?

There are a few but I must say, the most challenging thing would be trying to adapt to all of the other players in a team as everyone plays their game at different levels, so not everyone is equivalently experienced.

Who does the cooking in your house and how do you prepare for match days?

My wife is a good cook on a good day…haha, I normally cook as she’s too busy with all of the other duties. Normally I try to have the biggest full English breakfast as possible, I must have my tin of spaghetti hoops though! I don’t tend to eat much before a game. I tend to stick to just the usual espresso a few hours before kick off.

Who are the jokers at the Exiles?

There are a few but Alex Fowler must be the highlight. There’s never a dull moment when he’s around.

If you could be any of your teammate, who would it be?

It must be Danny Waddy, what a tank and an utter gent off the field.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with?

Depends on what context… Haha, surely this is a trick question? I have to say I wouldn’t mind being stuck in a lift with Candice Swanepoel (South African super model).

What’s your guilty pleasure?

A bag of Cheetos in bed with love Island on the projector.

If you could have one super power, what would it be?

Invisibility, for many reasons!!

Your Mastermind specialist subject?

Rugby, I basically live and breathe it.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I don’t know, I would like to think I’m good at golf but I’m sure someone will tell me different.

A UAE Barbarians XV Win Convincingly Against A Gibraltar Development Side


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A Strong Statement From The Barbarians

On a sticky night in Dubai Sports City, a UAE International Barbarian team made up of Premiership players stormed past a Gibraltar Rugby Development side, who struggled to keep pace with the locals. The touring side looked a completely different team in the second half though, as the dug deep in unfamiliar conditions. It was a referees worst nightmare as Eugene Deegan had to deal with both teams plying in al white strips if not for the red socks of Gibraltar to keep him in check.

Video Credits: Marc Why

If it weren’t for poor discipline from the UAE Babas in the second half, the scoreline would have no doubt been much higher, almost hitting a cricket score. There was some great entertaining running rugby to be seen, non other than from local Exiles second row Stephen Ferguson, often seen tearing up the centre of the pitch with opposition players hanging on in vain to bring the big Irishman down. Final score down at Rugby Park 63-0.

Tonight Apollo Perelini’s UAE International 1st XV with play Gibraltar Rugby back at Sports City, kicking off at 19:00. You can view the starting XV team below:

  1. Lucas Waddington
  2. Gio Fourie
  3. Craig Nutt
  4. Chris Masson
  5. Daniel Perry
  6. Esekaia Dranibota
  7. Matthew Mills
  8. Jaen Botes
  9. Ross Sampson
  10. Durandt Gerber (C)
  11. Matthew Richards
  12. Andrew Powell
  13. Sakiusa Naisau
  14. Niko Volavola
  15. Luke Stevenson

    Replacements

  16. Murray Reason
  17. Kristian Stinson
  18. Sean Stevens
  19. David Knight
  20. Josh Ives
  21. Thinus Steyn
  22. Emosi Vecanau

Dubai Exiles canter to UAE Premiership Triumph

Dubai Exiles 38-12 Abu Dhabi Harlequins

It wasn’t quite the thrilling climax to the domestic season we were anticipating under the lights in Sports City, but that will not matter one bit to Dubai Exiles who captured their second piece of silverware for the campaign with a composed victory over the holders.

In a somewhat fractious and disjointed affair, it was Exiles who kept their discipline the better of the two sides, leading from early on and in truth never looking likely to relinquish their advantage. The breakdown was ferociously contested throughout the 80mins meaning that both sides found continuity somewhat hard to come by.

 

In the absence of more free flowing fare, both teams looked to their fly halves to manage the game with many phases of play characterised by spelling of aerial ping pong. In Durant Gerber and Luke Stevenson both sides have quality operators in the 10 jersey and both showed it once again today. Each man enjoyed his own moments of brilliance, Gerber thumping over an early penalty from all of 45 metres with Stevenson showing delicious slight of hand to put replacement wing Barry Dwyer in for a second half try.

That score, off the back of a well rehearsed training ground routine off the back of a scrum came immediately after Exiles suffered a yellow card for repeated infringements near the line and briefly had the game well and truly on at 20-12 to the Dubai side. However Harlequins’ discipline dogged them throughout the evening and almost immediately from the kick off found themselves also down to 14 for collapsing a maul and the familiar sight of Gerber lining up to add another three points and further stretch the lead.

From then on in you sensed Exiles had the game under control. Quins’ Fijian pair in the backline, Emosi Vecanua and Natuna Kiniviliame mounted the occasional foray into Exiles territory but the black jerseys were always back in sufficient numbers to counter the threat with hooker Gio Fourie and number 8 Jaen Botes particularly influential. It was the giant Botes’ hack down field in the closing seconds that paved the way for Carel Thomas to notch his second try of the game, adding extra gloss to what was already a comfortable scoreline.

Dubai Exiles: Luke Waddington, Gio Fourie, Liam Andrews, Stephen Ferguson, Tom Gregory, Tomas Sackman, Matt Mills, Jaen Botes, Carel Thomas, Durant Gerber, Justin Walsh, James Crossley, Rory Arthur, Kyle van Rooyen, Thinus Steyn
Substitutes: David Gairn, Kristian Stinson, Kris Hughes, Luke Bertini, Alex Fowler, Josh Riding, Tom Williams

Abu Dhabi Harlequins: Peter Killan, Alfred Ries, Craig Nutt, Philip Brady, Andrew Shields, Eskia Dranbota, Sean Stevens, Sirilo Laladidi, Andrew Semple, Luke Stevenson, Emosi Vecanua, Natuna Kiniviliame, Joe Teasdale, Kobus Cronje, Matt Thomas
Substitutes: Murray Reason, Chris Jones-Griffiths, Semisi Seruitanoa, Mark Challis, Mike Pugliese, Tom Brown, Barry Dwyer

UAE Rugby Roundup – Now Including Womens 7 Series

Team of the week - Dubai Exiles


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This weeks roundup of action packed UAE Rugby sees a well overdue inclusion of the Women’s Rugby 7s Series. A huge thanks goes out to Tara Cooney for the write up!

Jump right in…

Team of the Week – Dubai Exiles 1s

As a rematch of the Dubai 7s final and clash of the top two placed sides in the Premiership, Dragons v Exiles was very much the crunch tie of this round of fixtures. Most observers would have expected a tight contest but as it was, Exiles overwhelmed their hosts by a 20 point margin, in a 35-15 triumph which all of a sudden leaves them six points clear at the top of the standings. Whilst both Dragons and Harlequins have games in hand, Exiles’ fate now rests in their own hands and have a real shot at making this season’s final.
dubai hurricanes

UAE Premiership

In the week’s other fixture Dubai Hurricanes overcame a spirited DSC Eagles 36-23 at Sports City. While mathematically the Canes are not out of the reckoning just yet, they are yet to record a victory against a side other than Eagles or Saracens so far this year. Saracens, having gained their first win of the season last week were unable to build on that momentum, falling to a 66-0 reverse out in Bahrain.
dragons vs amblers

UAE Conference

Dubai Tigers sit top of the top half standings after making it two wins from two with a 39-24 triumph over Exiles 2s. With four from five making it through to the semi-finals, Tigers already look all but assured to make it through to the knockout stages. At the other end of the standings, Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2s now face a real battle to qualify after going down 26-17 away to Sharjah Wanderers. With their next fixture an away test at the resurgent Tigers the favourites for the title need to find some form.

In the bottom half, Arabian Knights 1s won a thrilling local derby with Dubai Sharks 1s 28-27 and in doing so claimed their first win of the season and kept themselves in with an outside chance of making the final. The Dragons 2s and Amblers 1s played out a basketball scoreline in Jebel Ali with the home side coming home 59-48.
dubai eagles womens sevens winners

Womens 7s Series

Sharjah Wanderers hosted round 5 of the West Asia Women’s Rugby 7s series this weekend with both an A league and B league up for grabs. The A league welcomed two new teams; Al Ain Amblers and Abu Dhabi Bats and with Abu Dhabi Harlequins having handed DSC Eagles their first defeat of the season in winning round four, this tournament was one of the most competitive yet. Ultimately though the Eagles reasserted their authority to claim the title holding off significant challenges from Harlequins and Dubai Hurricanes in the process. Their B side also took home the honours in the B league over host Sharjah, RAK Rugby, B sides from Al Ain and Hurricanes as well as an Eagles C outfit. It it great to see strength in depth in this competition continue to grow, we look forward to round six which will be hosted by Dubai Tigers at Dubai College on Feb 23.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Exiles Comeback Stuns Dragons In Dubai 7s Final

dubai exiles gulf mens league champions 2017

Exiles Comeback Stuns Dragons In Dubai 7s Final In Gulf Mens League final 2017


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Dubai Exiles produced a display full of character to snatch a comeback victory over Jebel Ali Dragons and claim the Gulf Men’s League title at the Dubai 7s. Having fallen 12-0 down to a Dragons outfit buoyed by a semi-final win over Abu Dhabi Harlequins and backed by a vocal contingent of supporters and their very own mascot Chinese dragon, the occasion could have easily run away from Exiles early on. It took a show of guts, belief and a discipline that eluded their opponents to overhaul the deficit and claim a 19-12 triumph.

The game arguably hinged on a two minute spell at the end of the first half where a period of sustained Exiles pressure saw Jebel Ali concede two yellow cards in immediate succession, allowing Exiles to go in at half time level at 12-12. Dragons defended heroically to only concede the one try while down to five men, but the physical toll that took on them was to be telling in the closing stages of a tense second period.

It was Terry Jacobs who finally broke the deadlock, scampering under the posts with less than a minute remaining on the clock after a series of rumbustious Exiles charges had been rebuffed by desperate Dragons defence. Just as valuable was the intervention made a minute earlier by DuRandt Gerber whose scramble defence stopped what had looked a certain Dragons score in the right hand corner.

The result will be a bitter pill to swallow for a Dragons side who have now fallen at the final hurdle two years in succession. They had made all the early running with flying winger Niko Valavola to the fore in setting up the opening score. It was Valavola again whose powerful tackle produced the turnover which eventually led to Nick McCashin ghosting through the middle to open up what then looked an ominous 12-0 lead, before Exiles hauled themselves back in to contention with Tomas Sackmann’s brace just before the interval.

Exiles’ triumph ends Abu Dhabi Harlequins’ stranglehold on the domestic game in the UAE. Last year’s holders were edged out 21-19 by the Dragons at the semi final stage after having also fallen to the Exiles in Thursday’s pool matches. Exiles themselves progressed to the final courtesy of a 24-14 win over Dubai Hurricanes.

Gulf Mens League Final:

Dubai Exiles: Kris Hughes, Jaen Botes, Justin Welsh, Matt Mills, DuRandt Gerber, Kyle van Rooyan, Danny Waddy, Tomas Sackmann, Thinus Steyn, Carel Thomas, Jeremaia Kilicanasau, Terry Jacobs

Jebel Ali Dragons: Scott Hayes, Matthew Henry, Jonathan Hamilton, Ian Overton, Ethan Matthews, Nicholas McCashin, Kris Greene, Ross Samson, James Love, Matthew Richards, Niko Valavola, Sakiusa Naisau

Match Report: Huw Harrow

Yalla Rugby’s Team Of The Week – By Huw Harrow

UAE team of the week


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Catch up on last week’s Conference and Community League action and find out who were Yalla Rugby’s Team of the Week…

Conference

The Conference is shaping up to be a competitive league this season, which is emphasised by the fact that after three rounds, the top six teams are separated by just three points. Sharjah Wanderers preserved their 100% status with a 62-0 win over Dubai Sharks 1s, but having only played two games thus far they have to settle for fourth place. Dubai Exiles 2s, who claimed an impressive away victory to Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2s, top the table on points difference from Dubai Hurricanes 2s, the Canes themselves enjoying a comprehensive 61-7 win over Arabian Knights. In the weekend’s remaining fixture Dubai Tigers ran out 41-24 victors over Al Ain Amblers 1s who despite putting up over 50 points in their first two games, are still hunting their first win.

Community

If you wanted entertainment this weekend, the community league was where to find it with three fixtures yielding a whopping 246 points. Beaver Nomads and Jebel Ali Dragons 3s both made it two wins from two against RAK Rugby and Abu Dhabi Harlequins 4s respectively and head the standings. Elsewhere Abu Dhabi Saracens responded superbly to their opening day 0-65 reverse to the Dragons with a morale boosting 76-17 win over Al Ain Amblers 2s – indicating that they may yet be contenders this season.

team of the week dubai exiles

Team of the Week – Dubai Exiles 2s

Looking to bounce back after seeing a late penalty condemn them to a narrow 7-8 home defeat to Dubai Tigers last week, the last fixture Exiles 2s would likely have asked for is an away trip to reigning Conference champions Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2s. To go to Zayed Sports City and not just win but do so comfortably by 34-5 lays down a real marker for the remainder of the season and earns them top spot after week three. Whether the Exiles can maintain this level of strength in depth in coming weeks will be interesting to see, with their 1s having racked up 125 points in their opening two Premiership fixtures it is an impressive start to the campaign for the club.

Article By: Huw Harrow

Premiership League Preview

Harlequins UAE Premiership champions 2017


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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

Dubai Exiles UAE Premiership rugby 2017

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.

Dubai Eagles rugby club

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.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Tom Stapley – Former Exiles Player Selected For Ireland Rugby Sevens Squad

tom stapley dubai exiles

Tom Stapley – Former Exiles Player Selected For Ireland Rugby Sevens Squad

Tom Stapley, an ex Dubai Exiles player appears to be one step closer to his dream of a career in rugby. Stapley has been selected for Ireland’s extended sevens training squad.

The Exiles centre was sent on trial to Northern Ireland from the UAE last season, and he joined the academy of provincial side Ulster.

The former Jumeirah College schoolboy, who first aspired to a career in football as a goalkeeper before switching his attention to rugby, impressed to the extent he was retained for the season.

Now he has been named in a 32-man squad from which Ireland will select their team for the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series which begins in June.

He is delighted about the opportunity”

“He is delighted about the opportunity,” said Jacques Benade, the Dubai Exiles director of rugby.

“He has to go out, give it 100 per cent, and show what he can do. He was in the same squad last year, and just missed out on coming to the Dubai Rugby Sevens tournament.”

“Hopefully this year he can make it. He is a quality player, and with his size, speed and skill-level, it gives him opportunities to play up front and at the back as well.”

If Stapley does make the final cut for the Ireland sevens side, and the team themselves are successful, it could be the first step on a long road to playing back in Dubai in the format.

Ireland have a significant goal from playing on the European Grand Prix circuit. If they finish as one of the top two teams — excluding England, Scotland, Wales, France and Russia — they will play at next year’s Hong Kong Sevens.

That tournament involves a repechage competition, the winners which will qualify for the World Rugby Sevens Series for the 2018/19 season. Dubai will likely be the opening leg of that series.

By Paul Radley

The UAE Conference Rugby kicks off with a bang

uae conference rugby round up 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

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West Asia Championship Rugby 2016

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.

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