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winners of Dubai rugby sevens 2019

So thats the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens over with for another year

The 50th Anniversary celebrations of the Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens were taken to a whole new level with the Emirates A380 Airbus flying over The Sevens Stadium, not once but twice, giving spectators a beautiful and close view of the plane! One of the biggest events of the weekend was of course, the performance of international pop-singer Kylie Minogue in concert with her fans singing and dancing on pitch 2 and in the Rugby Village along with a Freddy Mercury tribute artist, Police band and cheerleaders performed during the breaks and entertained the crowds.

The winning teams (listed below) will certainly remember this years sevens tournament, with an impressive total of 96 Gulf teams competing in seven different tournaments over the three day event at The Sevens Stadium, we bring you up to date with who’s won what and who gets bragging rights for the next twelve months!

Gulf Mens League

Gulf Mens League Winners 2019

Gulf Mens League Winners 2019

Trophy Winners – Dubai Hurricanes

Gulf Women

Gulf Women Trophy Winners 2019

Gulf Women Trophy Winners 2019

Trophy Winners – Dubai Hurricanes

Gulf Women Plate Winners 2019

Gulf Women Plate Winners 2019

Plate Winners – Al Ain Amblers

Gulf Mens Open

gulf mens open trophy winners 2019

Gulf Mens Open Trophy Winners 2019

Trophy Winners – Sri Lions

Gulf Mens Open Plate Winners 2019

Gulf Mens Open Plate Winners 2019

Plate Winners – Multiplex Bulls

Gulf Mens Social

gulf mens social trophy winners 2019

Gulf Mens Social Trophy Winners 2019

Trophy Winners – Dubai Celts

Gulf Mens Social Plate Winners 2019

Gulf Mens Social Plate Winners 2019

Plate Winners – Dubai Lankans

Gulf Vets

Gulf Vets Trophy Winners 2019

Gulf Vets Trophy Winners 2019

Trophy Winners – Jebel Ali Dragons

Gulf Vets Plate Winners 2019

Gulf Vets Plate Winners 2019

Plate Winners – Abu Dhabi French EFR

Gulf Under 19 Girls

Gulf Under 19 Girls Trophy-winners-2019

Gulf Under 19 Girls Trophy-winners-2019

Trophy Winners – Dubai Exiles

Gulf Under 19 Boys

Gulf Under 19 Boys Trophy Winners 2019

Gulf Under 19 Boys Trophy Winners 2019

Trophy Winners – Dubai College

Gulf Under 19 Boys Plate Winners 2019

Gulf Under 19 Boys Plate Winners 2019

Plate Winners – Abu Dhabi Harlequins

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gulf rugby summer transfer list 2019

Now that the dust has settled on the opening weekend of Gulf Rugby action, we can reflect on the summer transfers that have taken place between the clubs. Who’s been leaving and who’s been joining?

The Ins and Outs of Gulf Rugby Summer Transfer Window 2019

It’s been a clear win for Dubai Tigers this season as they scooped a total of 14 new signings to boost their club numbers, with the majority of those players coming from the newly merged KnightsEagles rugby club in Dubai. This will no doubt be off the back of the Tigers gaining promotion to Premiership rugby at the end of last season.

Here’s a breakdown of numbers from rugby clubs active in the summer transfer window;

Barrelhouse Rugby ClubBarrelhouse

Transferred In: 1
Transferred Out: 0

Jebel Ali Dragons Rugby ClubDragons

Transferred In: 5
Transferred Out: 1

Dubai Exiles Rugby ClubExiles

Transferred In: 2
Transferred Out: 4

Abu Dhabi Harlequins Rugby ClubHarlequins

Transferred In: 0
Transferred Out: 3

Dubai Hurricanes Rugby ClubHurricanes

Transferred In: 1
Transferred Out: 3


Transferred In: 1
Transferred Out: 16

Abu Dhabi Saracens Rugby ClubSaracens

Transferred In: 3
Transferred Out: 0

Dubai Tigers Rugby ClubTigers

Transferred In: 14
Transferred Out: 0

Full Summer Transfer List

There was a total of twenty seven senior rugby players transferring to new clubs during the summer window. This is a rise from last year’s transfer list which hit twenty five. This summer saw an extended window up until the 31st September In alphabetical order they are listed below:

  1. Emma Ash – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  2. Riaan Barnard – from Hurricanes to Barrelhouse
  3. Briana Billings – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  4. Fadi Diab – from Dragons to Tigers
  5. Jarrod Eglen – from Hurricanes to Exiles
  6. Robyn Etherington – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  7. David Gibson – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  8. Trae Gosling – from KnightsEagles to Dragons
  9. Petillat Gwennael – from Harlequins to Saracens
  10. Oliver Johnson – from KnightsEagles to Dragons
  11. Gareth Jones – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  12. Jason Kettle – from Hurricanes to KnightsEagles
  13. Eliabeth McGowen – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  14. Kau Milanez – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  15. Charlene Moore from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  16. Kini Natuna – from Harlequins to Exiles
  17. Adreanne Normandeau – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  18. Rebecca Octave – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  19. Daniel Owen – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  20. Reuben Potaka – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  21. Allan Short – from KnightsEagles to Hurricanes
  22. Rikus Swart – from Harlequins to Saracens
  23. Edward Venter – from Exiles to Dragons
  24. Gareth Venter – from Exiles to Dragons
  25. Hendrik Venter – from Exiles to Dragons
  26. Johannes Watermayer – from Exiles to Saracens
  27. Nathen Wilson – from KnightsEagles to Tigers

Source: UAERF.

Local Rugby Clubs

Are you looking for a local rugby club to play for? We have a full list, including three of our Premium listed Rugby Clubs: Amblers, Barrelhouse and Saracens.

Niall Lear new era for Harlequins

Niall Lear has Abu Dhabi Harlequins fired up as new era begins with 56-16 win over Jebel Ali Dragons

New Abu Dhabi Harlequins coach Niall Lear got his regime off to a stunning start with a 56-16 triumph over old foes Jebel Ali Dragons as the West Asia Premiership season got under way.

The Scot marvelled at the performance of his side, who ran away with the game in the latter stages, admitting that he feels things can “only get better” as the season goes on.

But Quins weren’t the highest scorers on opening night last Friday as Dubai Hurricanes stormed to a 58-10 triumph over amalgamated outfit Dubai Knights Eagles at The Sevens.

Elsewhere, promoted team Dubai Tigers – two-time champions of the UAE Conference – gave a good account of themselves in a 39-5 defeat to defending champions Bahrain, who began life without Louie Tonkin with victory.

“It was a great evening,” said Lear, who only arrived in July and is the first permanent replacement for Mike McFarlane who departed halfway through last season.

“It was great to see the boys finally in action and putting into practice some of the things we have worked on. If someone had said to me opening day we’d win 56-16 I would have bitten their hand off so as a club we are happy, but need to keep pushing.”

The former Connacht A, Scottish Schools and Scotland Under-18 international added:

“We came out of the blocks pretty quickly and scored three quick tries in the first 20 minutes. As is normally the case when you run into an early lead, we fell away a little bit from there and allowed Dragons back into the game. A combination of us looking for that miracle ball or making uncharacteristic mistakes and some class play from them. The final 20 minutes were really good and as the game opened up a bit we ran away with things.”

“So many positives to take from that kind of performance, the great thing is that it can only get better and that’s the goal for us, consistent improvement.”

“Against some other teams if we played like that we would have been punished and it’s great that the boys identified that.”

Lindsey Gibson Bahrain Rugby Forwards Coach

Bahrain’s forwards coach Lindsay Gibson paid tribute to new boys Tigers following the champions’ victory at Dubai Sports City.

“It was a tough game and a good win for us,” added the Scottish prop, who is assisting head coach Adam Wallace following Tonkin’s return back to the UK to work with Exeter Chiefs.”

“The main objective was to obviously get a bonus point and on the way to hopefully defend our league title.”

“The Tigers boys were outstanding to be fair, I thought they were brilliant. You can tell they’ve got a good base level there and they’re used to winning. They made it a real tough game for us, especially the first 30 minutes.”

Read full article from Sport360.

Your official guide to Gulf Rugby 2019

Here’s Your Official Guide To Gulf Rugby In 2019/20

As the 2019/20 Gulf Rugby season kicks off, we take a look ahead to whats in store for rugby fans and how all of the regional league competitions are shaping up. This summer has not been without changes though so read on to find out whats new…

west asia champions 2018-19


Holders: Bahrain (West Asia) and Harlequins (UAE)

Format: A straight league set up with all sides playing each other home and away over fourteen rounds. The champions of the West Asia Premiership will be decided between the top two teams after all league rounds are complete. Likewise, the top two UAE based outfits (discarding results against Bahrain) will play on finals day for the right to be crowned UAE Premiership Champions.

Ins and Outs: This season we see Dubai Tigers enter the top tier of Gulf Rugby after a gaining promotion at the end of last season. We see a new team, who recently merged as the KnightsEagles hoping to compete with boosted numbers this year.

Premiership Teams

Bahrain, Dragons, Exiles, Harlequins, Hurricanes, KnightsEagles, Tigers

dubai tigers conference rugby champions 2018/19

Division 1

Holders: Dubai Tigers

Format: First-off, you will see we’ve had a name change. Previously known as the UAE Conference League, the second tier of Gulf Rugby will now be referred to as Division 1. The 2019/20 season will see nine rounds of rugby played and the top four finishing teams after the final round will go into a knockout semi-final playoff to determine who play in on Finals Day 2020.

Ins and Outs: The Sharjah Wanderers are back in the mix after a one year hiatus. As mentioned above, newly merged KnightsEagles will be fielding their 2nd XV to complete the ten Division 1 rugby teams in the UAE.

Division 1 Teams

Amblers, Dragons, Exiles, Harlequins, Hurricanes, KnightsEagles, Saracens, Sharks, Tigers, Wanderers

Dragons UAE Community Champions 2018/19

Division 2

Holders: Jebel Ali Dragons

Format: Again, another name change. You will see what was once the Community League, now referred to as Division 2. The 2019/20 season will also see nine rounds of rugby played but will culminate with the top two teams in the league table going on to Finals Day to see who will be crowned Champions of Division 2.

Ins and Outs: Huge news for Oman Rugby as we welcome Muscat RFC into the third tier of Gulf Rugby. It’s been a longtime coming and we wish them all the best in their inaugural season as they join the social rugby scene. Saracens will be fielding a 2nd XV this season as the benefit from a boost in numbers over the summer.

Division 2 Teams

Amblers, Barrelhouse, Dragons, Harlequins, KnightsEagles, Muscat, Rak, Saracens, Shaheen, Sharks

dubai eagles womens sevens rugby series champions 2018 19

Womens Sevens Series

Holders: Dubai Eagles

Format: The Womens Rugby Sevens Series is the top tier league of ladies rugby in the Emirates with nine rugby clubs participating in the league. There will be eight rounds of rugby hosted by each club throughout the season. The Dubai Tigers and Firebirds rugby clubs will host a joint round.

Womens Teams

Amblers, Firebirds, Hurricanes, Harlequins, KnightsEagles, Rak, Saracens, Tigers, Wanderers

mens gulf rugby fixtures announced

Jump Right In…

Mens 2019/20 Rugby Fixtures

It’s been a long hot summer for all rugby clubs this year as pre-season training comes to an end and the focus switches to the first round of Gulf Rugby.

Due to the season kicking off slightly later this season, we won’t see any action until the beginning of October, so each team will have a good few weeks of extra training under their belts before they begin their 2019/20 rugby campaign.

West Asia Premiership – Round 1 Preview

October the 4th will see the West Asia Premiership kick off with the newly merged Dubai KnightsEagles taking on the Dubai Hurricanes down at Dubai Sports City.

Newly promoted Dubai Tigers will be thrown straight into the deep end of West Asia rugby with their first league fixture against the 2018/19 Champions – Bahrain at Dubai College.

The final game of Round 1 sees a repeat of last years UAE Premiership final between Jebel Ali Dragons and Abu Dhabi Harlequins. The Quins will be looking to continue their good form, having only lost one game in the Premiership last season as they went on to win the league.

Dubai Exiles will have an extra week of prep time as they sit this round out with a bye.

UAE Division 1 – Round 1 Preview

Previously known as the UAE Conference League, the UAE Division 1 will also kick off on the 4th October.

The above mentioned merged KnightsEagles 2s will get things underway with their first match against last years’s finalists – Al Ain Amblers. Dragons 2s take on Harlequins 2s, Dubai Sharks face off against the Hurricanes 2s, Tigers 2s will play the Saracens and for the final fixture of Round 1 we welcome back the Sharjah Wanderers after a 1 year hiatus from domestic rugby, as they take on the Dubai Exiles 2s.

UAE Division 2 – Round 1 Preview

This year we also see a name change for the previously known UAE Community League, now called the UAE Division 2 which kicks off on the 4th October.

The Sharks 2s play Amblers 2s, Saracens 2s host RAK Rugby up in Abu Dhabi, Harlequins 3s take on current Community Final winners Dragons 3s, Shaheen face KnightsEagles 3s and we welcome for the first time Muscat Rugby Club as the play last years unbeaten league toppers, Barrelhouse.

We’re still five weeks out before the season officially kicks off, so expect some time changes to what is already pencilled in for the fixtures.


Niall Lear - Director of rugby at Abu Dhabi Harlequins

Picture courtesy of Falkirk Herald

Abu Dhabi Harlequin announce Director of Rugby

The Harlequins have announced the arrival of their new Director of Rugby as Niall Lear. Lear has an extensive knowledge of delivering top level coaching to both mini and youth rugby players as well as at seniors club level. The new DOR has played at top level club rugby and as has earned international honour’s representing Scotland.

The newly appointed Director of Rugby, Niall Lear said:

“My goal heading over to Abu Dhabi is to make the club as successful as possible both on and off the field. There will be a mixture of on and off field sessions over the summer which will allow the players to get into the best possible shape moving forward into the season.”

Niall Lear takes charge of his first coaching session at 19:00 this evening (Tuesday 23rd July) at Zayed Sports City, aiming to start pre-season training as soon as possible, despite having only been in the UAE for less that 13 hours.

Lear hopes to bring his experience and knowledge to take Abu Dhabi Harlequins to the next level of their drive towards delivering rugby to its members. Previously based in Edinburgh, Lear was House Master and Rugby Coach for the internationally renowned Merchiston Castle School where he spent three years. Prior to this he was House Master and PE Teacher for eight years at the Queen Victoria Military School in Dunblane.

Club Chairman, Andrew Cole has welcomed the new arrival saying:

“Finding a suitable Director of Rugby for a club is not always an easy task and when you are based in the Middle East it certainly add’s to the challenge. Of course there are plenty of candidates out there but to find someone who fits the Club’s ethos and can coach at a Mini/Youth level as well as Senior Men’s and Women’s rugby narrow’s down the selection pool considerably. Myself and the committee have spent over three months vetting candidates and interviewing from as far a field as the USA, New Zealand, UK, Argentina, Europe and also locally within the United Arab Emirates.”

Lear’s achievements include representing Connacht Rugby A (2008- 2009), Loughborough University 1st XV Rugby (2000-2005), Scottish Schools Rugby (2000), Scotland U18 Rugby (2001), Scotland Sevens Training Squad (2006/07), Rosslyn Park 1st XV Squad (2005/07), Glasgow Hawks 1st XV Squad (2004/5), Scottish Schools Athletics and GB U23 Athletics Team.

Cole added:

“We have taken the selection process very seriously, ensuring we make the offer to the right candidate. I believe in Niall, we have found a well balanced and experienced DOR with the right personality for the role here at Abu Dhabi Harlequins. We will fully support him in his new role and try our utmost to provide the backup he needs to excel in his role, we wish him and his family well here in Abu Dhabi.”

Mansour al Zaabi Harlequins club captain

Harlequins Club Captain – Mansour al Zaabi representing Yalla Rugby Select

One of Our Own – Quins Club Captain Mansour Al Zaabi

Another recent appointment at the Harlequins was for the first UAE National to be appointed as Club Captain – Mansour Al Zaabi.

Al Zaabi has been part of the Harlequins rugby club setup for over four years and was nominated for the role of Club Captain less than a month ago.

“It’s the club’s 50th anniversary next year it’s one of the oldest sporting clubs in the UAE and as part of its history it’s important to recognise the club’s achievements over recent years. Abu Dhabi should be proud of this successful sporting club, certainly one of the largest if not the largest sports clubs in the capital city. We’re the current UAE champions, past West Asia Champions and the most successful club in competitions over the past decade.”

Before joining the Quins the local Emirati had no previous background or any understanding about playing rugby. As well as being part of the Harlequins, Al Zaabi has also represented our very own Yalla Rugby Select squad in the 2018 Dubai Rugby Sevens.

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

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)

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

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.”



  • 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)


  • 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)

abu dhabi harlequins premiership rugby champions 2018/19

Harlequins regain UAE Premiership Title

Abu Dhabi Harlequins regain the UAE Premiership Title as they overcame a fired up Jebel Ali Dragons side from Dubai. It was a similar result to the 2017/18 UAE Premiership Final where Harlequins defeated the Dragons in a year which saw them lift the trophy for the second time in the space of three seasons.

Dragons, pushed them all the way, keeping the scoreboard closely tied up to the final 10minutes at 27-27. The side from the capital won 37-27 at The Sevens to confirm their status as the number one side in UAE Rugby.

Final score 37-27 to the Abu Dhabi Harlequins.

Highlights of the UAE Premiership Final 2018/19

You can watch highlights of the match by clicking the video above.

The domestic season draws to a close this weekend with the now traditional end of season UAE Finals day which will see champions crowned in both the UAE Premiership and Conference. The action takes place at The Sevens this year, having previously been held at Dubai Sports City with events getting underway with an exhibition Veterans match at 13:00. As ever Yalla Rugby will be your place to go for updates on the season’s climax, if we witness anything like the dramatic conclusion to the West Asia Premiership final out in Bahrain, UAE rugby fans will be in for a treat.

uae premiership rugby final 2019

UAE Premiership Final

UAE Premiership Final – Abu Dhabi Harlequins v Jebel Ali Dragons (KO 16:00)
Semi Finals:
Abu Dhabi Harlequins 43-27 Dubai Hurricanes;
Dubai Exiles 24-28 Jebel Ali Dragons

With this year’s West Asia Rugby crown having been claimed by Bahrain, for the big names of UAE Rugby, this year’s UAE Premiership carries extra significance as the remaining chance for major silverware. The Dragons sprang something of a surprise in seeing off Exiles, runners up in the West Asia Final to qualify for this showpiece against an Abu Dhabi side who finished 17pts clear at the top of the UAE regular season standings and must go in as favourites. The capital city outfit also won all three of the regular season meetings between the two, although there were only four points difference in the most recent clash at Jebel Ali. Having claimed a historic ‘quintuple’ of domestic trophies in 2017, Quins have surprisingly not won a major final since then, falling to lacklustre defeats at both this year’s Dubai Sevens and last year’s UAE Premiership. This weekend looks an opportunity to reclaim their position as the top side in the country but will be wary of a Dragons side who will relish the opportunity to express themselves on the big stage.

uae rugby conference final 2019

UAE Conference Final

UAE Conference Final – Dubai Tigers v Al Ain Amblers (KO: 14:00)
Semi Finals:
Dubai Tigers 57-17 Jebel Ali Dragons 2s,
Dubai Hurricanes 2s 22-31 Al Ain Amblers

Reigning champions Tigers have swept all before them this year and this final will not only put their Conference title, but also the prospect of an unbeaten season on the line. The last time Tigers failed to win a game in 80mins was indeed in last season’s final, where a draw with Sharjah Wanderers was settled by an extra time golden try. Can Al Ain push them all the way here? The formbook suggests that they have every chance. The most recent meeting between the sides went Tigers’ way by a narrow three point margin, and they have the confidence of coming through what were a series of cup-finals of their own just to qualify for the knockouts ahead of Abu Dhabi Saracens. Two straight hard fought wins over a strong Dubai Hurricanes 2s team will ensure they go in battle hardened and Tigers must be wary of complacency if they are to end what has been a remarkable season with the trophy they will feel they deserve.

Article by: Huw Harrow

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!

Please wait a second for the results calculate…

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.


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.”

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

Luke Stevenson Harlequins rugby player

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


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.

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.

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.

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

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

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