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Mike McFarlane – A Final Farewell ChoosdayChat With The Quins Head Coach

Mike McFarlane Harlequins

As Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Gulf Rugby bid farewell to Head Coach, Mike McFarlane, after his shock resignation last week, we dedicate this week’s ChoosdayChat to the quintuple trophy winner.

FACT FILE

Age: 33
Born: Kent, England
Club: Abu Dhabi Harlequins
Position: Head Coach
Height: 188cm
Weight: 100kg

“The passion that boy puts into his rugby is nothing compared to what he puts into his singing”

Do you have any nicknames?

‘Mikey’ is the only nickname that has ever really stuck.

When you’re not coaching, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I spend time with the littl’un, be it swimming, the beach or doing jigsaws. I also like Keeping fit and getting outdoors, but I especially enjoy eating great food and BBQing.

What do you miss most about England?

Proper butcher’s sausages! You just can’t get them like back home.

Do you have any hidden talents?

It’s been a while now, but I used to play flute and saxophone.

What was the last takeaway you ordered?

KFC… I’m guilty for a Twister!!

Who do you think will shine as a coach in Japan this year?

Gregor Townsend with Scotland and Warren Gatland on his last outing for Wales: both have the draws, squads and potential to push into the knockout stages of the World Cup.

What’s been your favourite moment as a coach?

The 2016/17 season, winning everything when the league was at it’s strongest. About 4 teams could have won every trophy that year but the boys were phenomenal, in quality and depth, both 1st and 2nd XV.

Whats your favourite punisher drill for the boys?

I’m not a fan of flogging the boys but one which is a killer in terms of skills under fatigue is the “Fiji touch 4v2 drill”.

Who’s the best dancer/singer at the Quins?

Muneeb Galant…the passion that boy puts into his rugby is nothing compared to what he puts into singing “Senses” in the sheds with a few shimmys…if he’s not recording it all.

If you could be one of the Quins players when you were playing, who would it be?

Oooo…I’d take Barry Dwyer’s wheels, Brian Geraghty’s chip n’ chase, Andy Shields lineout calls and Semp’s distribution…oh and Luke Stevenson‘s turnover skills haha

How’s life in Abu Dhabi?

It’s a great lifestyle with some fantastic opportunities and over 8 years I’ve been lucky enough to attend a range of brilliant events and meet some top quality people.

What are the best things about the being part of Abu Dhabi Harlequins rugby club?

The “One Club” culture has been epic to build and see flourish. For me, the players – hands down the best lads on and off the pitch you could hope for. It’s always been a pleasure singing with the boys.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

For sports chat around the table, I’d say Freddie Flintoff, Anthony Joshua and Johnny Wilkinson. For a general chat I’d say Sir David Attenborough, James Corden and Sir Richard Branson.

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

Travel as much of the world as possible, experience more cultures and learn more languages.

More On Mike McFarlane

McFarlane oversaw the Harlequins’ rejuvenation in UAE rugby and memorably steered the club to a clean sweep of major trophies. The quintuple, back in the 2016/17 season, included lifting the West Asia Premiership, West Asia Cup, UAE Premiership, Dubai Sevens and Asia Rugby Western Clubs Champions League titles, after which McFarlane revealed he had considered leaving for the second time, having first entertained the thought in the summer of 2016.

Set to leave the UAE due to personal reasons, his resignation midway through the season arrived as a shock to a club who had grown used to success under his coaching. No other club in the region has won more trophies than Harlequins in the time since McFarlane succeeded Jeremy Manning as the team’s coach back in 2015.

Andy Cole, the Harlequins chairman, said:

“Mike will be sorely missed at Harlequins. The guy has been completely dedicated to the club and rugby in general and has been a great ambassador for us and to UAE rugby. He was a great player and coach and it will be difficult to find a replacement like him. We wish him well for the future and thank him for all he’s done.”

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 Quins Fly Half Luke Stevenson

Luke Stevenson Harlequins rugby player

Abu Dhabi Harlequins fly half Luke Stevenson talks real ales, Vince McMahon and down time.

FACT FILE

Age: 27
Born: Chester, United Kingdom
Club: Abu Dhabi Harlequins
Position: Fly Half
Height: 182cm
Weight: 90kg
UAE 15’s Caps: 3
UAE 7’s Caps: 5

“He thinks he’s Brad Pitt but wears a suit like Vince McMahon”

Who do you like to listen to to get you ready for a big match?

Whatever Murray Reason pulls out the bag, but if he’s not there then either some Oasis or Stereophonics.

What do you miss most about the UK?

I really miss the simple stuff like real ale and proper pubs… and a decent club house!

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

It would have to be Phil Abraham, for having the most seductive voice on the continent.

Who has the worst Dress sense?

Definitely Andrew Powell (Kiwi), he thinks he’s Brad Pitt but wears a suit like Vince McMahon (below) from back in the 90’s.

Vince McMahon

Do you have any hidden talents?

None :(

Do you have any phobias?

Heights, I’m not a fan. I did a bungee jump when I was in New Zealand and have never looked so pathetic.

Who are the jokers at the Harlequins?

Malcolm Greenslade, when he’s not searching eBay for a new Fishing Rod. he turns up occasionally, but when he does he’s painfully good value.

Do you have any nicknames?

None that I know of.

Which team-mate would you most definitely not like to be stranded in the desert with?

Jonathan Stannard – It’s just too painful to see him struggle with no signal for Tinder.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Phil Abraham’s voice.

What’s been the most embarrassing moment on the rugby pitch?

There isn’t one particular moment that I can think of but pretty much anytime I miss an ‘easy’ kick (unfortunately there’s been a few).

What do you get up to in your spare time?

I’m trying to chop my way around the local golf course more at the moment, it’s not going well.

Pre-Season Training Gets Under Way For Harlequins

harlequins rugby team abu dhabi

As pre-season training gets under way for the Abu Dhabi Harlequins one thing is on their mind, more silverware. Whether it’s a 7s title or retaining the Community League title for the clubs 3rd team the Barbarians, one thing is certain it is back to business for the Abu Dhabi Harlequins.

With some pre-season rugby training boasting an in-depth and detailed program covering strength and conditioning in partnership with Vogue Fitness on Yas Island and the infamous Haddins WOD classes, that would test the metal of even the fittest of players. Skill sessions at Zayed Sports City are a change of pace and allow for time with the ball in hand and to sharpen those skills that will soon be tested in all three of the UAE rugby leagues.

Mike McFarlane harlequins coach

“It’s an exciting time for the club” – McFarlane

Head coach Mike McFarlane, said “It’s an exciting time for the club as the Mens, Ladies and U19s take on another comprehensive preseason in world class facilities to ensure they are in the best shape possible to start the season. Preseason whilst a tough time of the year really tests both mental and physical capacities and it’s always interesting to see players put their hands up from the off”.

Newly appointed Club Captain – Simon Walker summed up the clubs attitude and approach:

“Every team in the UAE plays hard and plays to win, our hard work in pre-season pays off every time we step onto the pitch. Training together as a club is the way forward, every section is down putting in the hard work”. “The program we are working to is a professional set up with baseline testing, results tracking and individually tailored aims and goals.”

Training is taking place at Vogue Fitness on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursday from 18:50 sharp with pitch-based skills sessions held at Zayed Sports City Mondays and Wednesdays at 19:00. All ages and abilities are welcome, for more information you can contact the Quins via their club profile page here.

Local Rivals Come Together To Honour Fellow Rugby Player Nick Young

Honouring A Fellow Rugby Player – A Charity Rugby Match Between Capital City Rivals

Local rugby club giants of Abu Dhabi, Saracens and Harlequins, have put rivalry aside to honour the memory of RAK Rugby club player Nick Young who tragically died earlier this month in a 10s tournament in Sharjah.

Young, passed away in hospital on Sunday, April 29, two days after being hurt while playing for RAK’s vets side at the famous tournament hosted by Sharjah Wanderers. Simon Williams, RAK Chairman announced the news of Nick’s passing on their website and social media on the Sunday evening.

To show the close bond within the UAE rugby community, both Abu Dhabi clubs will play a friendly game under the flood lights on Thursday, May 24th at Al Ghazal ground, home ground to Saracens. The game between Saracens Social XV and Harlequins Social XV will be kicking off at 19:30 and is free for all to attend.

The initiative came from Richard Croft, a man who has been around the local rugby scene for many years and with links to both Abu Dhabi clubs, having joined Saracens from neighbours Harlequins earlier this year. Richard has drawn on his contacts to best represent the Abu Dhabi rugby community in both social teams.

“We wanted to arrange it to show the depth of the game in the Capital, and honour Nick on behalf of UAE Rugby in general,” said Croft. “For us as a rugby community, to lose a fellow player, whether we knew him or not, is devastating and we wanted to put aside club rivalry and show support for Nick’s family from two of RAK’s friendly Community League rivals.”

Besides being competitive and friendly rivals, Saracens and Harlequins stand together for this fun and social game in honour of Nick and RAK Rugby Club.

“Without knowing Nick I’m sure this is what he too would have stood for as a player.” Added Croft.

Both clubs hope to honour that and extends an invitation to all rugby supporters in the region to experience Saracens and Harlequins combined hospitality at Al Ghazal for the game. All money raised will go to Nick Youngs family. Please show your support for local rugby and join us for this charity evening.

UAE Domestic Rugby New Years Round Up

new year uae rugby roundup 2018

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New Years Roundup Of UAE Domestic Rugby

Jump right in…

Team of the Week – Abu Dhabi Harlequins 4s

For any club at any level to be able to put out four sides on a regular basis is impressive and Harlequins’ consistent ability to do so this season must rank as one of the best achievements in the UAE rugby game. Although winless in the first half of the campaign, Quins 4s had been far from whipping boys and this weekend they broke their duck with a 37-31 triumph over DSC Eagles 2s. We think this must be the first ever occasion on which a 4th team has recorded a win in UAE rugby and that sees them named our first ‘Team Of The Week’ for 2018.

jebel ali dragons premiership rugby 2018

UAE Premiership

The key game involving Premiership sides was a West Asian clash, which saw Bahrain’s unbeaten record finally fall to Jebel Ali Dragons. The Dragons had to come back from a 15-9 deficit on their own turf to edge out a 26-23 win, aided by an interception score. The win was not enough to keep the Dragons atop the West Asia standings though with Abu Dhabi Harlequins putting the Eagles to the sword 74-8 which sees the reigning champions top the West Asia standings on points difference and pull clear in the UAE Premiership.

beaver nomads rak rugby dubai

UAE Community League

It is looking very much like a four horse race to qualify for this season’s grand final. Jebel Ali Dragons 3s enjoyed a comprehensive 71-27 win over Al Ain Amblers 2s, maintaining an unbeaten record that is matched only by Beaver Nomads. Abu Dhabi Harlequins 3s and RAK Rugby remain hot on their heels and indeed level on 20pts but having played a game more, both sides winning hard fought and high scoring encounters this weekend over Dubai Hurricanes 3s and Abu Dhabi Saracens 2s respectively. The remaining fixtures between these sides will likely define the final standings though plenty of sides will be out to upset the applecart before the dust settles.

Article by: Huw Harrow

UAE Rugby Winter Roundup 2017

abu dhabi harlequins 2nd xv totw


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Heres the last Yalla Rugby roundup of 2017 and the fixture list for after the holiday season.

Team of the Week – Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2’s

Abu Dhabi Harlequins may have seen their stranglehold on UAE Rugby dented at the Dubai 7s but there can be no question that when it comes to strength in depth, they remain the country’s strongest club. On a weekend where their 1s were preoccupied it’s the small matter of the Abu Dhabi derby with Saracens and at a time of year which typically tests squad depth, their 2s were left with a potential banana skin assignment of an away trip to Al Ain Amblers. Al Ain despite a lowly league position are the top scoring side in the UAE Conference this year and competed in the premier ‘League’ tournament at the 7s. To come away with a 62-12 victory and restrict the Amblers to just two scores is no mean feat and sees Harlequins 2s deservedly top the conference table at the half way point. The only blemish on an otherwise unbeaten record for the second string Quins’ is a reverse to Exiles 2s, which they will be keen to avenge in the second half of the season as the league splits. That grudge match promises to be a cracker and whilst there is plenty of rugby to be played, few would bet against a third clash between the two outfits in the eventual Conference final.

dubai eagles rugby match uae

UAE Premiership

It was business as usual at the top end of the Premiership with comfortable wins coming for the top two placed teams, Jebel Ali Dragons and Abu Dhabi Harlequins, both of whom will doubtless have been glad to get back on the field after disappointment at the 7s. Jebel Ali were indeed back at the Sevens Stadium taking on Dubai Hurricanes and their 30-13 win sees them top the table going in to the new year. Harlequins remain unbeaten having played a game less and swept aside winless city rivals Abu Dhabi Saracens 78-6. It has been a tough start to the season for Saracens both on and off the field, particularly in contrast to the success being enjoyed by their neighbours. The capital city deserves a meaningful rivalry so we can only hope for an upturn in fortunes for Sarries in the new year. Elsewhere in a West Asia fixture, Dubai Sports City Eagles fell to a 39-5 defeat to Bahrain who also put a disappointing 7s showing behind them to resume their impressive form in the 15s format.

jebel ali dragons 2nd xv uae conference

UAE Conference

There were just two completed matches in the final round of Conference fixtures before the league splits to top and bottom half competitions. Harlequins 2s, already well assured of a top half berth, put an end to Al Ain’s hopes with their victory in the garden city. Dubai Tigers were assured of their place via a walkover with Arabian Knights unable to fulfill the fixture for a second time this season. Sharjah Wanderers also pulled out of their fixture with Exiles which is perhaps more surprising given their strong performances this year, which have also put them in the top half of the table. That left Dragons 2s and Hurricanes 2s vying for the final spot and despite a 47-25 win for Jebel Ali, bonus points leave Hurricanes one point ahead and in fifth spot. The Dragons will be left to contest the bottom half and will go in to that as likely favourites.

You can view the updated Top 5 and Bottom 4 fixtures here or view the split league tables ready for the New Year action getting back on track.

Article By: Huw Harrow

UAE Rugby Roundup – Week 7

UAE Rugby roundup week 7

A full roundup of rugby across all three leagues

Jump right in…

Team of the Week – Abu Dhabi Harlequins 1s

team of the week Abu Dhabi Harlequins

Harlequins ran out 29-25 victors over an Exiles side who have made a strong start to this season and in doing so maintain their unbeaten start. While the victory may seem unremarkable for a side so accustomed to success, Quins played on Friday under particularly tough circumstances having been dealt the devastating blow of learning that their centre Garth van Niekerk who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer sadly passed away. Our thoughts are with all those who knew him. A fitting tribute was paid by both sides in putting on a closely contested match and joining together to set traditional rivalries set aside at the final whistle.

Jebel Ali dragons rugby Dubai

UAE Premiership

Harlequins remain unbeaten but it is Jebel Ali Dragons enjoying top spot after a comfortable bonus point win 40-9 over winless Abu Dhabi Saracens. Quins still look well placed with three wins from three but a points difference of only +13 shows that this year’s side is not quite the juggernaut that swept all-comers aside last season. Dubai Hurricanes were also in action, falling 34-17 at home to Bahrain, who have enjoyed an extremely impressive start to the campaign.
Dubai Tigers rugby

UAE Conference

Having both set the early season pace, all eyes this weekend were on the clash at Zayed Sports City between Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2s and Sharjah Wanderers. The action on the field certainly did not disappoint, with the Quins surviving a late onslaught to hold on to a 24-23 win, ending Sharjah’s unbeaten start to the campaign. Both sides now look relatively assured of a top half finish and with Dubai Sharks and Arabian Knights cut adrift at the foot of the table the focus in coming weeks will be on the scramble to secure top half berths with five sides in the hunt. Dubai Tigers now head the chasing pack after dispatching Dubai Sharks 55-7 in a repeat of last season’s bottom half final. Al Ain Amblers have pulled themselves back in to the mix courtesy of a 31-29 win over Jebel Ali Dragons 2s, while Dubai Hurricanes 2s, produced an impressive display to confine Dubai Exiles 2s to a 27-12 defeat at the Sevens.
Dubai Sharks rugby

UAE Community

As ever, plenty of high scoring affairs in the Community league, with Hurricanes 3s once again on the wrong end of a basketball score in their 45-36 defeat to the Amblers 2s just two weeks after succumbing 57-55 to Dragons 3s. There were impressive wins for both Beaver Nomads and RAK over Harlequins 4s and 3s respectively, which leave both sides well placed towards the top of the standings. The most competitive fixture of the week provided some welcome respite for Arabian Knights with their 2s holding off Dubai Sports City Eagles 2s in their first completed fixture at Community level by a scoreline of 26-25.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Harlequins Think Pink For Cancer Patients & Their Families

Abu Dhabi Harlequins raise money for charityThe Abu Dhabi Harlequins Rugby Club and rugby gear manufacturer Kukri teamed up to raise money to support cancer patients and their families. During the month of October Kukri donated pink socks to the Club. Members, in turn, made a donation for the right to wear them in lieu of the official uniform socks.

“Pink socks are a visible way for us to raise money and awareness at the same time.”

“We have all been touched by this disease in some way,” said Harlequins’ Chairman, Andy Cole. “Pink socks are a visible way for us to raise money and awareness at the same time. I thank our members who have taken part.”

A cheque will be handed over to registered cancer support charity, Rahma on Friday, 3 November at 16.30 on Pitch 12 at Zayed Sports City.

Established in 1970, the Abu Dhabi, Harlequins Rugby Club is comprised of more than 1600 members that make up more than 50 teams from Under 4’s up to the Veterans. The Club includes Senior Men, Ladies, Vets, Juniors (Boys, Girls & Mixed), Touch and the inspiring Try Rugby Programme for children with special needs.

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

UAE Rugby Captain Ben Bolger Looks To Top Off A Fantastic Season

Ben Bolger UAE Rugby Captain


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UAE Rugby Captain Ben Bolger Looks To Top Off A Fantastic Season

As the UAE national rugby squad head off to Malaysia today, embarking on what could be a long and complicated road to the Japan Rugby World cup in 2019, we chat with captain and Harlequins star Ben Bolger.

Bolger looks back on the team’s build up to the Asia Rugby Division One Championship in Ipoh, Malaysia and tells us what the squad have learned from their recent training camps and test matches against the Premiership and Conference Barbarians.

“Both games were great tests for us, and exactly what we needed. We learned a lot about ourselves as a group as we had to come from behind in both games to win them,” before adding, “the character shown by the boys and their dedication to each other has been great.”

The UAE rugby team are are focused on the first task at hand, which will be winning promotion to the top tier of Asia Rugby. Should they top their table in the Division One tournament, where they face hosts Malaysia, followed by Sri Lanka and finally play the Philippines.

 

This tour comes off the back of a fantastic season for Bolger and home club, the Abu Dhabi Harlequins. The Quins have cleaned up this year by winning the UAE Premiership, UAE Conference, West Asia Premiership and Gulf Mens League at the Dubai Sevens.

That means nothing unless we go and deliver”

Asked what winning the Asia Division One Championship will mean to him and the team, Ben said;

“Personally, it will be a fantastic way to finish what has been a great season for me. It has been a journey with these boys that has started at the beginning of the year and the boys commitment has been outstanding. However, we are conscious that means nothing unless we go and deliver.”

Success in Malaysia will earn them promotion back into the top flight of Asia Rugby and see the UAE join South Korea and Hong Kong and an unlikely shot at qualifying for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Dare to dream??

By Alex Johnson

Kyle Bennie RAK rugby
gulf rugby
Mike Phillips
Matthis Bathe, Arabian Knights Rugby Player
Gulf Rugby - Round 13
Sandy Naylor Dubai Eagles Rugby

Mike McFarlane – A Final Farewell ChoosdayChat With The Quins Head Coach

Mike McFarlane Harlequins

As Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Gulf Rugby bid farewell to Head Coach, Mike McFarlane, after his shock resignation last week, we dedicate this week’s ChoosdayChat to the quintuple trophy winner.

FACT FILE

Age: 33
Born: Kent, England
Club: Abu Dhabi Harlequins
Position: Head Coach
Height: 188cm
Weight: 100kg

“The passion that boy puts into his rugby is nothing compared to what he puts into his singing”

Do you have any nicknames?

‘Mikey’ is the only nickname that has ever really stuck.

When you’re not coaching, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I spend time with the littl’un, be it swimming, the beach or doing jigsaws. I also like Keeping fit and getting outdoors, but I especially enjoy eating great food and BBQing.

What do you miss most about England?

Proper butcher’s sausages! You just can’t get them like back home.

Do you have any hidden talents?

It’s been a while now, but I used to play flute and saxophone.

What was the last takeaway you ordered?

KFC… I’m guilty for a Twister!!

Who do you think will shine as a coach in Japan this year?

Gregor Townsend with Scotland and Warren Gatland on his last outing for Wales: both have the draws, squads and potential to push into the knockout stages of the World Cup.

What’s been your favourite moment as a coach?

The 2016/17 season, winning everything when the league was at it’s strongest. About 4 teams could have won every trophy that year but the boys were phenomenal, in quality and depth, both 1st and 2nd XV.

Whats your favourite punisher drill for the boys?

I’m not a fan of flogging the boys but one which is a killer in terms of skills under fatigue is the “Fiji touch 4v2 drill”.

Who’s the best dancer/singer at the Quins?

Muneeb Galant…the passion that boy puts into his rugby is nothing compared to what he puts into singing “Senses” in the sheds with a few shimmys…if he’s not recording it all.

If you could be one of the Quins players when you were playing, who would it be?

Oooo…I’d take Barry Dwyer’s wheels, Brian Geraghty’s chip n’ chase, Andy Shields lineout calls and Semp’s distribution…oh and Luke Stevenson‘s turnover skills haha

How’s life in Abu Dhabi?

It’s a great lifestyle with some fantastic opportunities and over 8 years I’ve been lucky enough to attend a range of brilliant events and meet some top quality people.

What are the best things about the being part of Abu Dhabi Harlequins rugby club?

The “One Club” culture has been epic to build and see flourish. For me, the players – hands down the best lads on and off the pitch you could hope for. It’s always been a pleasure singing with the boys.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

For sports chat around the table, I’d say Freddie Flintoff, Anthony Joshua and Johnny Wilkinson. For a general chat I’d say Sir David Attenborough, James Corden and Sir Richard Branson.

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

Travel as much of the world as possible, experience more cultures and learn more languages.

More On Mike McFarlane

McFarlane oversaw the Harlequins’ rejuvenation in UAE rugby and memorably steered the club to a clean sweep of major trophies. The quintuple, back in the 2016/17 season, included lifting the West Asia Premiership, West Asia Cup, UAE Premiership, Dubai Sevens and Asia Rugby Western Clubs Champions League titles, after which McFarlane revealed he had considered leaving for the second time, having first entertained the thought in the summer of 2016.

Set to leave the UAE due to personal reasons, his resignation midway through the season arrived as a shock to a club who had grown used to success under his coaching. No other club in the region has won more trophies than Harlequins in the time since McFarlane succeeded Jeremy Manning as the team’s coach back in 2015.

Andy Cole, the Harlequins chairman, said:

“Mike will be sorely missed at Harlequins. The guy has been completely dedicated to the club and rugby in general and has been a great ambassador for us and to UAE rugby. He was a great player and coach and it will be difficult to find a replacement like him. We wish him well for the future and thank him for all he’s done.”

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 Quins Fly Half Luke Stevenson

Luke Stevenson Harlequins rugby player

Abu Dhabi Harlequins fly half Luke Stevenson talks real ales, Vince McMahon and down time.

FACT FILE

Age: 27
Born: Chester, United Kingdom
Club: Abu Dhabi Harlequins
Position: Fly Half
Height: 182cm
Weight: 90kg
UAE 15’s Caps: 3
UAE 7’s Caps: 5

“He thinks he’s Brad Pitt but wears a suit like Vince McMahon”

Who do you like to listen to to get you ready for a big match?

Whatever Murray Reason pulls out the bag, but if he’s not there then either some Oasis or Stereophonics.

What do you miss most about the UK?

I really miss the simple stuff like real ale and proper pubs… and a decent club house!

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

It would have to be Phil Abraham, for having the most seductive voice on the continent.

Who has the worst Dress sense?

Definitely Andrew Powell (Kiwi), he thinks he’s Brad Pitt but wears a suit like Vince McMahon (below) from back in the 90’s.

Vince McMahon

Do you have any hidden talents?

None :(

Do you have any phobias?

Heights, I’m not a fan. I did a bungee jump when I was in New Zealand and have never looked so pathetic.

Who are the jokers at the Harlequins?

Malcolm Greenslade, when he’s not searching eBay for a new Fishing Rod. he turns up occasionally, but when he does he’s painfully good value.

Do you have any nicknames?

None that I know of.

Which team-mate would you most definitely not like to be stranded in the desert with?

Jonathan Stannard – It’s just too painful to see him struggle with no signal for Tinder.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Phil Abraham’s voice.

What’s been the most embarrassing moment on the rugby pitch?

There isn’t one particular moment that I can think of but pretty much anytime I miss an ‘easy’ kick (unfortunately there’s been a few).

What do you get up to in your spare time?

I’m trying to chop my way around the local golf course more at the moment, it’s not going well.

Pre-Season Training Gets Under Way For Harlequins

harlequins rugby team abu dhabi

As pre-season training gets under way for the Abu Dhabi Harlequins one thing is on their mind, more silverware. Whether it’s a 7s title or retaining the Community League title for the clubs 3rd team the Barbarians, one thing is certain it is back to business for the Abu Dhabi Harlequins.

With some pre-season rugby training boasting an in-depth and detailed program covering strength and conditioning in partnership with Vogue Fitness on Yas Island and the infamous Haddins WOD classes, that would test the metal of even the fittest of players. Skill sessions at Zayed Sports City are a change of pace and allow for time with the ball in hand and to sharpen those skills that will soon be tested in all three of the UAE rugby leagues.

Mike McFarlane harlequins coach

“It’s an exciting time for the club” – McFarlane

Head coach Mike McFarlane, said “It’s an exciting time for the club as the Mens, Ladies and U19s take on another comprehensive preseason in world class facilities to ensure they are in the best shape possible to start the season. Preseason whilst a tough time of the year really tests both mental and physical capacities and it’s always interesting to see players put their hands up from the off”.

Newly appointed Club Captain – Simon Walker summed up the clubs attitude and approach:

“Every team in the UAE plays hard and plays to win, our hard work in pre-season pays off every time we step onto the pitch. Training together as a club is the way forward, every section is down putting in the hard work”. “The program we are working to is a professional set up with baseline testing, results tracking and individually tailored aims and goals.”

Training is taking place at Vogue Fitness on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursday from 18:50 sharp with pitch-based skills sessions held at Zayed Sports City Mondays and Wednesdays at 19:00. All ages and abilities are welcome, for more information you can contact the Quins via their club profile page here.

Local Rivals Come Together To Honour Fellow Rugby Player Nick Young

Honouring A Fellow Rugby Player – A Charity Rugby Match Between Capital City Rivals

Local rugby club giants of Abu Dhabi, Saracens and Harlequins, have put rivalry aside to honour the memory of RAK Rugby club player Nick Young who tragically died earlier this month in a 10s tournament in Sharjah.

Young, passed away in hospital on Sunday, April 29, two days after being hurt while playing for RAK’s vets side at the famous tournament hosted by Sharjah Wanderers. Simon Williams, RAK Chairman announced the news of Nick’s passing on their website and social media on the Sunday evening.

To show the close bond within the UAE rugby community, both Abu Dhabi clubs will play a friendly game under the flood lights on Thursday, May 24th at Al Ghazal ground, home ground to Saracens. The game between Saracens Social XV and Harlequins Social XV will be kicking off at 19:30 and is free for all to attend.

The initiative came from Richard Croft, a man who has been around the local rugby scene for many years and with links to both Abu Dhabi clubs, having joined Saracens from neighbours Harlequins earlier this year. Richard has drawn on his contacts to best represent the Abu Dhabi rugby community in both social teams.

“We wanted to arrange it to show the depth of the game in the Capital, and honour Nick on behalf of UAE Rugby in general,” said Croft. “For us as a rugby community, to lose a fellow player, whether we knew him or not, is devastating and we wanted to put aside club rivalry and show support for Nick’s family from two of RAK’s friendly Community League rivals.”

Besides being competitive and friendly rivals, Saracens and Harlequins stand together for this fun and social game in honour of Nick and RAK Rugby Club.

“Without knowing Nick I’m sure this is what he too would have stood for as a player.” Added Croft.

Both clubs hope to honour that and extends an invitation to all rugby supporters in the region to experience Saracens and Harlequins combined hospitality at Al Ghazal for the game. All money raised will go to Nick Youngs family. Please show your support for local rugby and join us for this charity evening.

UAE Domestic Rugby New Years Round Up

new year uae rugby roundup 2018

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New Years Roundup Of UAE Domestic Rugby

Jump right in…

Team of the Week – Abu Dhabi Harlequins 4s

For any club at any level to be able to put out four sides on a regular basis is impressive and Harlequins’ consistent ability to do so this season must rank as one of the best achievements in the UAE rugby game. Although winless in the first half of the campaign, Quins 4s had been far from whipping boys and this weekend they broke their duck with a 37-31 triumph over DSC Eagles 2s. We think this must be the first ever occasion on which a 4th team has recorded a win in UAE rugby and that sees them named our first ‘Team Of The Week’ for 2018.

jebel ali dragons premiership rugby 2018

UAE Premiership

The key game involving Premiership sides was a West Asian clash, which saw Bahrain’s unbeaten record finally fall to Jebel Ali Dragons. The Dragons had to come back from a 15-9 deficit on their own turf to edge out a 26-23 win, aided by an interception score. The win was not enough to keep the Dragons atop the West Asia standings though with Abu Dhabi Harlequins putting the Eagles to the sword 74-8 which sees the reigning champions top the West Asia standings on points difference and pull clear in the UAE Premiership.

beaver nomads rak rugby dubai

UAE Community League

It is looking very much like a four horse race to qualify for this season’s grand final. Jebel Ali Dragons 3s enjoyed a comprehensive 71-27 win over Al Ain Amblers 2s, maintaining an unbeaten record that is matched only by Beaver Nomads. Abu Dhabi Harlequins 3s and RAK Rugby remain hot on their heels and indeed level on 20pts but having played a game more, both sides winning hard fought and high scoring encounters this weekend over Dubai Hurricanes 3s and Abu Dhabi Saracens 2s respectively. The remaining fixtures between these sides will likely define the final standings though plenty of sides will be out to upset the applecart before the dust settles.

Article by: Huw Harrow

UAE Rugby Winter Roundup 2017

abu dhabi harlequins 2nd xv totw


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Heres the last Yalla Rugby roundup of 2017 and the fixture list for after the holiday season.

Team of the Week – Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2’s

Abu Dhabi Harlequins may have seen their stranglehold on UAE Rugby dented at the Dubai 7s but there can be no question that when it comes to strength in depth, they remain the country’s strongest club. On a weekend where their 1s were preoccupied it’s the small matter of the Abu Dhabi derby with Saracens and at a time of year which typically tests squad depth, their 2s were left with a potential banana skin assignment of an away trip to Al Ain Amblers. Al Ain despite a lowly league position are the top scoring side in the UAE Conference this year and competed in the premier ‘League’ tournament at the 7s. To come away with a 62-12 victory and restrict the Amblers to just two scores is no mean feat and sees Harlequins 2s deservedly top the conference table at the half way point. The only blemish on an otherwise unbeaten record for the second string Quins’ is a reverse to Exiles 2s, which they will be keen to avenge in the second half of the season as the league splits. That grudge match promises to be a cracker and whilst there is plenty of rugby to be played, few would bet against a third clash between the two outfits in the eventual Conference final.

dubai eagles rugby match uae

UAE Premiership

It was business as usual at the top end of the Premiership with comfortable wins coming for the top two placed teams, Jebel Ali Dragons and Abu Dhabi Harlequins, both of whom will doubtless have been glad to get back on the field after disappointment at the 7s. Jebel Ali were indeed back at the Sevens Stadium taking on Dubai Hurricanes and their 30-13 win sees them top the table going in to the new year. Harlequins remain unbeaten having played a game less and swept aside winless city rivals Abu Dhabi Saracens 78-6. It has been a tough start to the season for Saracens both on and off the field, particularly in contrast to the success being enjoyed by their neighbours. The capital city deserves a meaningful rivalry so we can only hope for an upturn in fortunes for Sarries in the new year. Elsewhere in a West Asia fixture, Dubai Sports City Eagles fell to a 39-5 defeat to Bahrain who also put a disappointing 7s showing behind them to resume their impressive form in the 15s format.

jebel ali dragons 2nd xv uae conference

UAE Conference

There were just two completed matches in the final round of Conference fixtures before the league splits to top and bottom half competitions. Harlequins 2s, already well assured of a top half berth, put an end to Al Ain’s hopes with their victory in the garden city. Dubai Tigers were assured of their place via a walkover with Arabian Knights unable to fulfill the fixture for a second time this season. Sharjah Wanderers also pulled out of their fixture with Exiles which is perhaps more surprising given their strong performances this year, which have also put them in the top half of the table. That left Dragons 2s and Hurricanes 2s vying for the final spot and despite a 47-25 win for Jebel Ali, bonus points leave Hurricanes one point ahead and in fifth spot. The Dragons will be left to contest the bottom half and will go in to that as likely favourites.

You can view the updated Top 5 and Bottom 4 fixtures here or view the split league tables ready for the New Year action getting back on track.

Article By: Huw Harrow

UAE Rugby Roundup – Week 7

UAE Rugby roundup week 7

A full roundup of rugby across all three leagues

Jump right in…

Team of the Week – Abu Dhabi Harlequins 1s

team of the week Abu Dhabi Harlequins

Harlequins ran out 29-25 victors over an Exiles side who have made a strong start to this season and in doing so maintain their unbeaten start. While the victory may seem unremarkable for a side so accustomed to success, Quins played on Friday under particularly tough circumstances having been dealt the devastating blow of learning that their centre Garth van Niekerk who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer sadly passed away. Our thoughts are with all those who knew him. A fitting tribute was paid by both sides in putting on a closely contested match and joining together to set traditional rivalries set aside at the final whistle.

Jebel Ali dragons rugby Dubai

UAE Premiership

Harlequins remain unbeaten but it is Jebel Ali Dragons enjoying top spot after a comfortable bonus point win 40-9 over winless Abu Dhabi Saracens. Quins still look well placed with three wins from three but a points difference of only +13 shows that this year’s side is not quite the juggernaut that swept all-comers aside last season. Dubai Hurricanes were also in action, falling 34-17 at home to Bahrain, who have enjoyed an extremely impressive start to the campaign.
Dubai Tigers rugby

UAE Conference

Having both set the early season pace, all eyes this weekend were on the clash at Zayed Sports City between Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2s and Sharjah Wanderers. The action on the field certainly did not disappoint, with the Quins surviving a late onslaught to hold on to a 24-23 win, ending Sharjah’s unbeaten start to the campaign. Both sides now look relatively assured of a top half finish and with Dubai Sharks and Arabian Knights cut adrift at the foot of the table the focus in coming weeks will be on the scramble to secure top half berths with five sides in the hunt. Dubai Tigers now head the chasing pack after dispatching Dubai Sharks 55-7 in a repeat of last season’s bottom half final. Al Ain Amblers have pulled themselves back in to the mix courtesy of a 31-29 win over Jebel Ali Dragons 2s, while Dubai Hurricanes 2s, produced an impressive display to confine Dubai Exiles 2s to a 27-12 defeat at the Sevens.
Dubai Sharks rugby

UAE Community

As ever, plenty of high scoring affairs in the Community league, with Hurricanes 3s once again on the wrong end of a basketball score in their 45-36 defeat to the Amblers 2s just two weeks after succumbing 57-55 to Dragons 3s. There were impressive wins for both Beaver Nomads and RAK over Harlequins 4s and 3s respectively, which leave both sides well placed towards the top of the standings. The most competitive fixture of the week provided some welcome respite for Arabian Knights with their 2s holding off Dubai Sports City Eagles 2s in their first completed fixture at Community level by a scoreline of 26-25.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Harlequins Think Pink For Cancer Patients & Their Families

Abu Dhabi Harlequins raise money for charityThe Abu Dhabi Harlequins Rugby Club and rugby gear manufacturer Kukri teamed up to raise money to support cancer patients and their families. During the month of October Kukri donated pink socks to the Club. Members, in turn, made a donation for the right to wear them in lieu of the official uniform socks.

“Pink socks are a visible way for us to raise money and awareness at the same time.”

“We have all been touched by this disease in some way,” said Harlequins’ Chairman, Andy Cole. “Pink socks are a visible way for us to raise money and awareness at the same time. I thank our members who have taken part.”

A cheque will be handed over to registered cancer support charity, Rahma on Friday, 3 November at 16.30 on Pitch 12 at Zayed Sports City.

Established in 1970, the Abu Dhabi, Harlequins Rugby Club is comprised of more than 1600 members that make up more than 50 teams from Under 4’s up to the Veterans. The Club includes Senior Men, Ladies, Vets, Juniors (Boys, Girls & Mixed), Touch and the inspiring Try Rugby Programme for children with special needs.

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

UAE Rugby Captain Ben Bolger Looks To Top Off A Fantastic Season

Ben Bolger UAE Rugby Captain


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UAE Rugby Captain Ben Bolger Looks To Top Off A Fantastic Season

As the UAE national rugby squad head off to Malaysia today, embarking on what could be a long and complicated road to the Japan Rugby World cup in 2019, we chat with captain and Harlequins star Ben Bolger.

Bolger looks back on the team’s build up to the Asia Rugby Division One Championship in Ipoh, Malaysia and tells us what the squad have learned from their recent training camps and test matches against the Premiership and Conference Barbarians.

“Both games were great tests for us, and exactly what we needed. We learned a lot about ourselves as a group as we had to come from behind in both games to win them,” before adding, “the character shown by the boys and their dedication to each other has been great.”

The UAE rugby team are are focused on the first task at hand, which will be winning promotion to the top tier of Asia Rugby. Should they top their table in the Division One tournament, where they face hosts Malaysia, followed by Sri Lanka and finally play the Philippines.

 

This tour comes off the back of a fantastic season for Bolger and home club, the Abu Dhabi Harlequins. The Quins have cleaned up this year by winning the UAE Premiership, UAE Conference, West Asia Premiership and Gulf Mens League at the Dubai Sevens.

That means nothing unless we go and deliver”

Asked what winning the Asia Division One Championship will mean to him and the team, Ben said;

“Personally, it will be a fantastic way to finish what has been a great season for me. It has been a journey with these boys that has started at the beginning of the year and the boys commitment has been outstanding. However, we are conscious that means nothing unless we go and deliver.”

Success in Malaysia will earn them promotion back into the top flight of Asia Rugby and see the UAE join South Korea and Hong Kong and an unlikely shot at qualifying for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Dare to dream??

By Alex Johnson

gulf rugby roundup week 12
Mike McFarlane Harlequins
Latest Gulf Rugby News 2019
Latest Gulf Rugby News 2019
gulf rugby roundup 2019
uae rugby national school boys 2018

Inaugural UAE Rugby Grand Finals Day to be played This Friday

uae rugby grand finals 2016 17

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.

In a first for the Federation, the UAERF Grand Finals are the culmination of UAE Rugby’s Community, Conference and Premiership league fixtures played over the 2016/2017 rugby season.

“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.

Harlequins lay down a marker against the Wasps

Harlequins Rugby Abu Dhabi UAE

 

This weekend saw the last of the UAE competitions’ games with a month long break coming in to play for the UAE Rugby Eden Park 7s and Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby 7s tournament.

UAE Premiership Results

In the UAE Premiership there were a couple of stunning tries scored as the Harlequins 1st XV just edged the Dragons 1st XV, who produced an extremely brave performance but just fell short. The 30 – 31 win means Quins still remain unbeaten this season, quite an achievement. The other match of the Premiership was Saracens 1st XV against the Exiles 1st XV. Another close affair showing how tough the Premiership really is. The result ended in favour of the Exiles who won 14-17.

UAE Conference Results

Over to the UAE Conference now and the Saracens 2nd XV played against last years champions Sharjah Wanderers 1st XV who were coming into this match off the back of 3 straight defeats. This wasn’t reflected in the match however as the Wanderers ran out a convincing 45-12 win.

The Dubai Sharks 1st XV saw their 4 match winning streak come to an end as they were taken apart by an impressive Dragons 2nd XV side who scored some slick tries to win 52-10.

The Harlequins 2nd XV produced an emphatic performance, dominating the Wasps 1st XV (who are no pushovers), in a mighty 66-13 thrashing. The Amblers 2nd XV are finally beginning to find their feet this season as they put in a huge performance running away with a huge 90-7 win against the Tigers 1st XV. A very physical and close fort match between the Knights 1st XV and Hurricanes 2nd XV was unfortunately recorded as a forfeit with the win going to the Knights.

UAE Community Results

There were only 2 UAE Community matches taking place this weekend with the Dragons 3rd XV taking on the Sharks 2nd XV at home, the result went in favour of a powerful Dragons side who cruised to a 53-5 win. The ever improving RAK Rocks secured their first win of the season with a narrow 20-25 win over the Amblers 3rd XV. Rocks Chairman, Mike Silvester will be pleased with this result and will no doubt be hoping to build on this victory over the next few weeks off.

By Tom Davies

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UAE Rugby Back In Full Swing Again!

Emirates UAE Rugby Roundup


 

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

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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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