We’ve compiled all of this year’s Premiership Rugby stats to show club performances throughout the 2018/19 season.
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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.
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)
Canes blow away misfiring Quins for first Dubai 7s title in over a decade
The Dubai 7s hasn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds for Dubai Hurricanes in recent years. Despite being regular co-tenants at the Sevens Stadium they’ve found themselves watching from the stands as Dubai Exiles, Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Jebel Ali Dragons have shared the trophy amongst themselves since their maiden triumph in 2007.
Hurricanes did not enter this year’s tournament as favourites either, despite some improved performances in the West Asia Premiership, they weren’t expected to match the firepower of the Gulf’s top teams. But in this final against a Harlequins side which had averaged 37.5 points a game in reaching the final, a calm, assured display built on a swarming defence saw them run out as clear and deserved winners.
The match looked over as a contest early into the second period when Joseph Riley stretched clear on the left wing to put his side 17-0 up straight after half time. Harlequins players were left protesting what looked to be an infringement in the build up which put Riley into the clear, but in reality it was only a fair reflection of the dominance of the Dubai outfit with the game having been played out almost exclusively in the Quins 22 until that point.
Both sides came into the final unbeaten and having survived nailbiting semi finals with Jebel Ali Dragons and Bahrain respectively. But the capital city outfit just could not get their game going early on, finding themselves camped under their own posts for the opening three minutes. The scoring was eventually opened by Lewis Anderson with Quins a man down after persistent infrigements in the danger area. Discipline proved costly again with a penalty conceded five yards from their own line allowing Boris Finck the opportunity to wriggle over after a quick tap to double the advantage.
Uncharacteristic mistakes continued to hamper Quins as frustration set in, lineouts misfired and balls were spilled in attack. This was only compounded by an interception score, run in by the impressive Sakiusa Naisau and converted from wideout by Finck, much to the delight of an increasingy jubilant Canes support.
Some powerful direct running from Emosi Ratuvecanaua and Andrew Semple eventually reduced the arrears late on to a more respectable 24-14 but this did nothing to dampen the celebrations of the men in yellow.
Dubai Hurricanes: Adam Marshall, Boris Finck, Daniel Crouchman, Edward Lewis, Elliot Speed, Ian Larkin, Joseph Riley, Lewis Anderson, Pio Tanimatuku, Sakisua Naisau, Tobias Oakley, Tomos Roderick
Abu Dhabi Harlequins: Andrew Semple, Andrew Stevenson, Ashbey Williams, Barry Dwyer, Brian Geraghty, Christopher McKee, Emosi Ratuvecanua, Epeli Dranibota, Kiniviliame Natuna, Nicholas Millewis-Thomas, Sean Stevens
Article By: Huw Harrow
The latest from across all three divisions in the UAE as the season begins to take shape.
Jump right in…
Team of the Week – Dubai Hurricanes 1s
They may not have won this weekend and sit just fourth in the West Asia Premiership table but the last two weeks have shown signs of significant improvement for the Dubai Hurricanes. Having failed to register a win against any of the top four throughout last season’s campaign, they have got that monkey off their back at the second attempt this time round, easing to a 27-11 win over Jebel Ali Dragons in Week 3. Followed up by a not at all un-respectable display away to Abu Dhabi Harlequins this weekend, Canes have served notice to the big guns that they intend to have a much greater say in proceedings this year.
West Asia Premiership
It is nip and tuck at the top of the West Asia Premiership table with no side left unbeaten after four rounds and all signs suggest we have a very open title race to look forward to. Dubai Exiles hold top spot on points difference, having strung three wins together after their opening night loss to the Dragons. Bahrain claimed arguably this weekend’s standout result in coming away from Jebel Ali with a 13-9 scalp. The Dragons, having lost two in a row, will be glad to face bottom side DSC Eagles next week and will want to be sure not to slip up to avoid falling adrift from the pace setters.
The next round of games will give us a clearer picture of the Conference standings as each side completes its first round of group fixtures. The fixture between Dubai Tigers and Al Ain Amblers looks particularly enticing, with both sides highest placed in their group and having put up big scores in recent wins over Arabian Knights. Tigers did not have it all their own way however in a see-saw 46-43 win over traditional local rivals Dubai Sharks two weeks ago. The Sharks are another side looking much improved this season having also been competitive in defeat this weekend away to Abu Dhabi Saracens. In the other group, Dragons 2s can complete the opening round undefeated if, as the formbook suggests, they can overcome Eagles 2s next week. Hurricanes 2s currently sit top of that group, having played a game more, coming away with an impressive 35-29 from Zayed Sport City against Harlequins 2s.
Just one round of games since our last update. Holders Harlequins 3s and RAK Rugby recorded hard fought wins over Amblers 2s and Tigers 2s respectively but Dragons 3s currently sit top of the pile after putting up something of a cricket score against a struggling Sharks 2s. Newcomers Barrelhouse were left with a rest this week as Shaheen forfeited their game due to Arab Rugby competition in Cairo for the National 7s squad.
Article by: Huw Harrow
2018/19 Gulf Rugby Season Preview
The start of the 2018/19 Gulf Rugby season is now upon us and with pre-season in full swing at most of the nation’s rugby clubs, it’s time to look ahead at the action in store for us and see how all of the domestic league competitions are shaping up. The summer has not been without its usual period of change as clubs come to terms with the usual spate of player arrivals and departures. Here’s what we know about how things will line up this season.
Jump Right In
UAE/West Asia Premiership
Holders: Jebel Ali Dragons (West Asia) and Dubai Exiles (UAE)
Format: A straight league set up with all sides playing each other home and away over three rounds (Home, Away, Home). The champions of the West Asia Premiership will be decided between the top four teams after all league rounds are complete via playoff semi finals and final. Likewise, the top four UAE based outfits (discarding results against Bahrain) will have a semi final playoff to see who will play on finals day for the right to be crowned UAE Premiership Champions.
Ins and Outs: After a difficult season which saw them finish bottom of the pile with only one win, Abu Dhabi Saracens have decided to be relegated to the Conference league this year as they embark on a rebuilding phase.
Holders: Dubai Tigers
Format: Pay attention because things are about to get a little complicated in the second tier of Gulf rugby!
The ten UAE Conference sides have been split into two groups who will each play home and away fixtures during the first half of the season. Group A are formed of all UAE Premiership represented clubs and Group B are all other UAE rugby clubs. They will all fall under one league table this year with no split league as seen in previous years.
Part two of the season will see the sides face opposition from outside their group but only once. Points earned are added to their initial group totals. The season then culminates with the top two sides from each group entering the knockout stages with the Conference final scheduled for the end of March 2019.
Harlequins 2s, Eagles 2s, Exiles 2s, Hurricanes 2s, Dragons 2s
Ins and Outs: The Conference league was dealt a blow this week with the withdrawal of last season’s runners up and one of the UAE’s oldest rugby clubs, Sharjah Wanderers, citing lack of numbers. They will be replaced by the Dubai Eagles 2s who played their first season of Community rugby last year. Abu Dhabi Saracens 1s have dropped down from the UAE and will only field one team this season.
Holders: Abu Dhabi Harlequins 3s
Format: An initial league stage with each side playing each other once, aiming to secure a top two finish and a place at finals day where the champions will be decided.
Ins and Outs: Unsurprisingly for a league that fluctuated in size over the course of last season, the UAE Community rugby competition has seen its fair share of off-season activity. Barrelhouse, a club that is well established on the 7s circuit, make a welcome league debut whilst the Shaheen have also signalled an intent to return to the competition this year. Dubai Tigers’ expanding squad size sees them enter a 2s team for the first time. The Dubai Hurricanes will not field a 3rd team this year so will not participate in Community rugby. Disappointment comes in the shape of the Beaver Nomads, traditionally a team to beat at Community level, being forced to withdraw from this year’s competition.
Holders: Dubai Eagles
Format: We’ll be doing a dedicated Womens Rugby article closer to their first set of fixtures (5th October), but to give you an idea of what to expect this season, there will be eight rounds of rugby where we’ll see Sevens rugby played at Harlequins, Hurricanes, Amblers, Saracens, Sharjah, Tigers and finally Eagles.
This season, there will be an invitational 15-a-side match held on finals day at The Sevens Stadium, alongside the other mens rugby Premiership, Conference and Community league finals which will be held on the 29th March 2019 which should bring the close to the season to an exciting climax this year with all levels featured on the final day.
Mini & Junior Rugby
This season we will hopefully see the Mini and Youth Rugby results and league tables featured for the first time on the website. We’re really looking forward to bringing you as much of the rugby action as possible here in the Middle East, so be sure to check back on a weekly basis.
Article by: Huw Harrow
Dubai Hurricanes hooker Max Physick talks teleportation, life on Mars and budgy smugglers
Born: Bangor, North Wales
Club: Dubai Hurricanes
“No guilty pleasures, if they’re not guilty.”
Do you have any nicknames?
Not really one specifically but I do get called a few different things like; Maximus, Maxibon, Ant McPartlin.
What do you get up to in your spare time?
Usually picking things up and putting them down again, though I do like to get out skating and paddle boarding.
Do you have any phobias?
Looking at my Emirates NBD messages after a session.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
Teleportation for sure. Instant global travel and swift Barasti Beach Bar exits.
If you could be one of your team-mates, who would it be?
Harry Hughes because he’s gas…🙄
What’s your guilty pleasure?
No guilty pleasures, if they’re not guilty.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Opening a bottle with pretty much anything.
Who’s the best dancer in the Canes squad?
Josh Elliott. The man’s a weapon on the dance floor.
Who’s in charge of the team music?
Weissenborn usually. It could probably do with a shift change though!
Who’s the tightest?
Tightest? Definitely not Liam Stead, get him drunk and he’ll pay for your night for you. Cheers pal.
What are the best things about the being part of the Dubai Hurricanes?
They’re a sound group of lads to be around, but most important of all…..custom budgy smugglers.
How’s life in Dubai?
Dubai’s great. It has so much to offer in such a beautiful part of the world. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here in the UAE so far. The only downside I would have to say, is living on the surface of Mars for 6 months of the year.
More About The Physick
With a surname that you couldn’t have made up with the profession he’s in, Max is a personal trainer at Embody Fitness, Dubai. He sometimes graces the web pages of Yalla Rugby with his training articles guiding us in the right direction to the sacred six pack journey that we all seek. You can often see him taking dodgy photos of his heath food too. Thanks Max!
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We catch up with the action from last weeks UAE Rugby fixtures in the Premiership, Conference and Community leagues.
Jump right in…
Team of the Week – Dubai Hurricanes 2s
We’ve gone for the Hurricanes’ Conference side this week for throwing up what on form was the biggest surprise result of the round in their comprehensive 53-25 triumph over Exiles 2s in their derby clash at the Sevens Stadium. The sides had enjoyed contrasting fortunes prior to Christmas with Exiles comfortably qualifying for the top half while Hurricanes crept in by the back door in 5th place. A loss for Canes here would have more or less spelled the end of their season but the men in yellow rose to the challenge with a bonus point win. They will need more of the same in their remaining fixtures if they are to make it to the knockouts but this result will see the likes of Harlequins 2s and Sharjah looking over their shoulders somewhat.
Both Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Jebel Ali Dragons narrowed the gap on top placed Dubai Exiles courtesy of comfortable victories this weekend. Both title chasers put over 50 points on the board against Dubai Hurricanes and DSC Eagles respectively. Exiles themselves were in West Asia action but returned from Bahrain empty handed having been edged out 19-11. A result which puts beyond doubt that Harlequins, Exiles, Dragons and Bahrain will finish in the West Asia top four. The sides are now left to jostle for position and home advantage in the semi-finals.
Two matches took place in both sections of the division and the picture is decidedly clearer at the bottom than at the top. Thumping wins for Al Ain Amblers and Jebel Ali Dragons 2s serve as warm ups for when the sides meet each other in the Bottom 4 half final and leave Dubai Sharks and Arabian Knights looking to their upcoming clash as a decider in terms of who will avoid last place.
In the Top 6, the league picture recently had been muddied by some confusion over whether results from the first half of the season carry over or not. We can confirm that this season, they do indeed carry over – after confirmation from the UAERf. With this being the case, Exiles 2s and Dubai Tigers are now assured of a qualifying birth. This is despite Exiles surprise reverse against Hurricanes 2s which keeps the Canes alive in the competition. The Tigers are the division’s form side since the winter break having won three straight matches after seeing off Sharjah Wanderers 26-10.
Just one fixture took place which saw Beaver Nomads come away from Al Ain with an impressive 52-26 win over the Amblers 2s. An important result for the Nomads which puts them up to second in the standings but with a game in hand on leaders Abu Dhabi Harlequins 3s.
Article by: Huw Harrow
UAE Rugby Roundup
All three UAE rugby leagues are now into their regular season once again with both the Premiership and the Community tournaments back on the pitch.
Starting with the West Asia Premiership, the Saracens kicked off their season with a 20-0 win against the Amblers due to the match being ruled as a forfeit by the Amblers breaching UAERF Competition Regulations. Jayden Bell and Sunia Laladidi were both not eligible to play during this match. As stated in UAERF Regulation 19 – all fully completed dispensation forms must be submitted 15 days prior to the scheduled fixture. The Amblers will hope that the penalty point received doesn’t come back to haunt them near the end of the season.
The other match was an exciting 35-13 win for the Harlequins 1st XV against the Hurricanes 1st XV. The Quins really put their hand up as genuine title contenders against a strong Canes side.
In the UAE Conference league the Wanderers 1st XV secured a hard fought 23-14 win against a determined Heartbeat Tigers 1st XV side. They can take great pride in pushing the defending champions hard, finishing just 9 points behind. The Dubai Sharks 1st XV produced a gutsy performance, beating a battling Wasps 1st XV team by a solitary point 14-13 with the Sharks putting everything they had into the match and leaving nothing on the pitch at the sound of the final whistle.
Harlequins 2nd XV eased to an impressive 57-10 win against a struggling Amblers 2nd XV side. The Hurricanes 2nd XV suffered a disappointing 7-36 loss against an extremely impressive Dragons 2nd XV outfit, having finished one place above the Dragons last season, the Hurricanes will be disappointed with the heavy loss. The final match of the Conference was a dominating 59-0 win to the Exiles 2nd XV against the Saracens 2nd XV, the biggest scoring margin of the round leaves the Saracens with a lot to work on before the next round of UAE rugby.
The Community league kicked off with a Thursday night match for the defending champions – Beaver Nomads 1st XV against the Sharks 2nd XV. A physical encounter ended with the Nomads running out as 48-12 winners. The Amblers 3rd XV entertained the Harlequins 3rd XV on Friday with the Quins producing a fine performance to win 43-22.
Shaheen 1st XV produced the performance of the Community league by beating the Sharks 3rd XV 34-5. With just one season of 15s rugby union under their belt it shows that Shaheen have serious potential under head coach Apollo Perelini and will only get better as the season goes on. The final match of the Community league saw the RAK Rocks 1st XV entertain the Dragons 3rd XV in the “sandbox”, the name given to the Rocks newly refurbished all sand pitch. An extremely tiring game was won by the impressive Dragons unit 61-12.
A look ahead to the next round
There will be some great rugby on offer this coming weekend in the West Asia Premiership and Conference.
The match to watch in the WA Premiership has to be the defending champions, the Exiles 1st XV taking on the Harlequins 1st XV, who produced a fine performance last week.
In the Conference the Dubai Wasps will be looking to bounce back from their loss in round 2 and hopefully come away with a win against current champions Sharjah Wanderers 1st XV, to get their season back on track.
The Community league have a weekend off before returning to action on the 7th of October.
By Tom Davies
After a quiet few months off, the UAE conference tournament is back for what looks to be an exciting season of rugby. The opening weekend saw some great matches take place across the UAE.
Defending champions Sharjah Wanderers began their campaign with a comfortable 34-7 win over the Dubai Sharks, showing their intent for back-to-back Conference triumphs.
The Arabian Knights lost a hard fought battle with the Wasps 15-29. The Knights seemed to win the battle of the forwards for the majority of the match but in the end discipline let them down and the Wasps made them pay for their mistakes.
The Dragons 2nd XV cruised to an impressive 58-3 win over the Al Ain Amblers 2nd XV, announcing that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with this season.
The final match saw the Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2nd XV go head to head with the Dubai Exiles 2nd XV. With both sides having finished in the top half of the table last season neither team wanted to drop points on the opening weekend. The result went the way of the Exiles who ran away with it to win 41-5.
A look ahead to this weekends UAE Rugby
The action continues this weekend coming with round 2 of the UAE Conference taking place, the pick of the matches is the Hurricanes 2nd XV taking on the Dragons 2nd XV, both teams have ambitions to finish in the top half of the table and the Dragons will definitely want to continue the great start they have made to the season.
Thats not all thats taking place this weekend with the beginning of both the UAE Premiership and Community League. The Premiership sees The Amblers entertaining the Abu Dhabi Saracens and the Dubai Hurricanes taking on the Abu Dhabi Harlequins. The match to watch in the Community League has the be the Beaver Nomads against the Sharks 2nd XV, the Nomads will be looking to defend their title this season and will hope to start it off with a win.
By Tom Davies