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Mike Wolff, Dubai Exiles Chairman has Choosday Chat [EXTENDED]

Mike Wolff - Dubai Exiles Rugby Club Chairman

We have a special Choosday Chat with Dubai Exiles departing Chairman, Mike Wolff.

FACT FILE

Age: 52
Born: Limavady in Northern Ireland – yes I just got my post Brexit Irish passport!
Your home club: Several – the last club I played for was Tokyo Crusaders before moving to Dubai Exiles.
Position: Lock or back row
Level of rugby played: My old regiment took rugby very seriously and so I played rugby in the British Army for 12 years with some far more talented players there than I ever was. That aside local club rugby wherever I lived in the world.

“I hope that the UAERF can find a way to be far more supportive of club rugby”

Mike Wolff and his family are leaving Dubai after a fifteen year stint in the desert. Wolff, a partner of Control Risks and Chairman of the Dubai Exiles reflects upon his time with the Premiership club in our Choosday Chat special before he makes his move over to start a new chapter in his life in Washington DC, USA.

Do you have any nicknames?

None that can be published online on a family website…

How long have you been involved with the Exiles?

I’ve been involved with the Exiles for fifteen and a half years! I moved here from Tokyo knowing just one bloke whose three sons all played at the Exiles mini and junior rugby section in 2004 – he dragged me along to help coach and the rest is history. [His eldest son now plays for Wasps, England 7s and is currently on loan to Griquas in South Africa playing Currie Cup rugby. Clearly I am taking as much credit for him as I possibly can!].

How has the Exiles transformed as a club since you have been involved?

We now offer more sports than just rugby compared to when I started, namely cricket, netball and touch rugby. We had to move from our old home of forty years at Al Awir to the Sevens Stadium in 2008, and last year we opened our new clubhouse which took us five years to get through planning and construction. Naturally I think it is now the best clubhouse facility in the Middle East!

What has been your best memory during your time with Exiles?

There are many. Winning the UAE Premiership twice in the last three years, winning the Dubai 7s for the first time in 11 years 2 years ago, winning the West Asia Premiership three years ago, losing the West Asia Premiership with the last kick of the match this season in the lion’s den that is Bahrain RFC, the tremendous success of our Under 18 girls rugby squad over the last four years, several of our Mini & Youth alumni going on to become professional players, our 50th anniversary ball, the growth and delivery every year (with Dubai Hurricanes) of the HSBC Dubai Mini & Youth Rugby Festival, and working with great people at the club who have in turn become the closest of friends.

If you could change one thing about UAE Rugby, what would it be?

I hope that the UAERF can find a way to be far more supportive of club rugby. Without that, UAE rugby will never be what it truly could be. I would love to see more Emirati involvement at the clubs. There is no good reason for that not to be happening more than it is now.

What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced during your time with the club?

Rebuilding the club’s self-confidence and sense of identity after we lost our old facility to the bulldozers in 2008. It isn’t easy watching your home that you built over many decades, and where the Dubai 7s was created, being levelled.

Where do you see UAE rugby heading in the next five years?

The club game is definitely facing some headwinds. There needs to be (in my opinion) fewer but larger clubs that are consequently more resilient to economic downturns and transient playing populations. In the time I have been Chairman I have seen several UAE rugby clubs fold or miss seasons, primarily due to external pressures. If clubs only focus on their own survival as opposed to what is the best model for the game here, then the quality of the offering will steadily dilute and become very average. If we want to continue to have a high quality Premiership offering, then that costs money for the right resources to deliver it – and nine clubs in one small city (Dubai) all fighting for sponsors and members makes no sense. The club game needs to be focused on building from the top down and not the other way around. Equally we also need to be more rigorous as to what defines a “rugby club” – I’m afraid I personally don’t believe we should be encouraging new clubs that do not have as a minimum both a Senior section and a Mini & Youth section to be part of the rugby scenery here. We need to be offering pathways within clubs for players from five years old to 1st XVs and that can deliver a full family experience.

If you could be one of the players, who would it be and why?

Durandt Gerber, our 1st XV captain from last season and former Italy A fly-half. Irritatingly talented, annoyingly humble, the ladies love him, he’s a great role model for all the kids and most importantly he is a thoroughly decent human being. (He still missed that big kick in Bahrain though…)

What’s been your proudest moment as Chairman of Exiles?

On the pitch it would be our Director of Rugby – Jacques Benade and the 1st XV delivering the UAE Premiership and West Asia Premiership double three years ago. When I took over as Chairman, just after we exited Al Awir, the senior end of the club was in a mess. We had eight players turn up for our first men’s training session eight years ago, so to do that in five years was amazing. Off the pitch we have helped a number of our members who have faced some very tough personal situations – family bereavement, serious illness, sudden unemployment and so on. I’d like to think as a Club we always try to “do the right thing” when our members need help. I also think that together with some like minded fellow Chairmen we have recently started to make real progress, delivering a more sustainable game, and a safer and better insured playing environment that hopefully continues to attract players of all shapes and sizes.

Who has the worst dress sense in club?

Any of our senior players that speak Afrikaans as their first language – fifty shades of khaki anyone!? That said, some of my flowery linen shirts have incurred fines, so I am in no position to judge.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I spent three years working in Tokyo, the home of karaoke. I like to think my renditions of Rhinestone Cowboy by Glenn Campbell, and various Neil Diamond efforts will be sorely missed. I suspect I am wrong however.

What was the last takeaway you ordered?

It was a Chinese meal, three weeks ago and it gave me a nasty parasite for two weeks. Lesson learned.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

Sir Winston Churchill, Ricky Gervais and my Grandfather who died in 1956 – he survived three years in the trenches in WW1 and inspired me to join the British Army. I wish I’d known him.

How’s life been for you in Dubai and what will you miss most about it?

I had a migrant life as a soldier and businessman all around the world before I came here; Dubai has been the longest time I have lived in one place and that tells you something. I am heading off to Washington DC for an amazing professional and personal opportunity, but I will miss the people in Dubai, the Exiles and my work colleagues hugely. The quality of life here is great, the region offers wonderful travel opportunities, and the country is a marvellous example of how a different style of leadership can create a multi-cultural, safe and tolerant society. As the world seems to be polarising hard these days, such a model should perhaps be admired and emulated in my humble opinion.

For someone looking to join the Exiles, how would you describe the club culture to them?

It is very much a proper rugby club where great memories can be made with great people. The more you put into helping others at the Club the more you will get out of it. Once an Exile, always an Exile.

Exiles Director of Rugby, Jacques Benade gives thanks to Mike saying;

“We are very sad to lose Mike, our chairman at Dubai Exiles. A very passionate and influential figure fighting to get the best for expat rugby in the UAE. Mike is passionate about rugby and was always working to get the rugby played here in the UAE at the highest competitive level possible. The work Mike has done at the Exiles, the hours he’s put in to build the club as one of the best clubs in the West Asia and UAE Premiership, not just at senior level but also at mini and youth, will leave a legacy that hopefully everyone will be able to build on.”

General Manager, John Ebbitt had also had this to say;

“Mike has an indomitable passion for the Dubai Exiles and for rugby in the UAE. He has worked tirelessly to safeguard the club’s future and the Dubai Exiles status as one of the top rugby clubs in the Middle East.”

Club Captain, DuRandt Gerber said;

“Mike is an honest person, a lover of the game that just wants to see the game grow. He’s a true club man.”

Justin Brits from Dubai Warrior’s RFC Has A Choosday Chat

Justin Brits - Dubai Warriors Rugby Player

We have a Choosday Chat with Dubai Warriors Fly-Half, Justin Brits.

FACT FILE

Age: 16
Born: Pretoria, South Africa.
Club: Duabi Warriors RFC
Position: Fly-half / Inside Centre
Height: 185cm
Weight: 76kg

“My blood’s always been blue”

Justin Brits

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

From a young age, I’ve always grown up playing rugby and wanting to play professionally has always been a big goal for me.

Which team do you support from your home country?

I support the ‘Blue Bulls’ which is the team representing Pretoria in South Africa. The day I was born, my dad put a Blue Bulls beanie on my head and since that day my blood’s always been blue!

Do you have any nicknames?

My teammates either call me ‘Chris’ or ‘Ystervark’ (which is Afrikaans for porcupine, because of my short hair…!)

What do you get up to in your spare time?

Apart from just passing a rugby ball around, I like to do anything to relax like go to the pool or hit the local beach.

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

I would love to have the ability to fly, it would be cool to just go wherever you want, whenever you want.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I can play the guitar a little bit.

Who does the cooking at home and what’s your favourite meal?

My mother does most of the cooking and my favourite meal would definitely have to be boerewors and mielie-meal when we have a ‘braai’.

What would you like to do when you leave school?

I’d love to go to university and study something along the lines of sports management as it seems like an interesting subject. I’ll definitely push to play rugby for my university as well, and hopefully the local club.

Who are the jokers at the Warriors?

I’d have to say Reese O’Connell, he’s always got a smile on his face and cracking jokes… even during fitness training!

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

I’d probably choose Bradley Tarr – I’d like to see and experience how a prop plays the game. They’re absolute workhorses.

Which opposition do you look forward to playing against the most?

I love playing against the Dubai Hurricanes as they’re our toughest opposition and I thoroughly enjoy playing and testing myself against the best.

Who’s the best dancer in the Warriors squad

Again, probably Reese O’Connell, he loves his performing arts.

Whats been your proudest moment playing rugby in the UAE?

Captaining our u16 Warriors team to our most successful season yet and winning the league final this year!

What are the best things about being part of the Warriors rugby club?

It really is a brotherhood. We’ve all built such a great bond with each other, even with our teammates’ parents – which is something really special.

How’s life in Dubai?

Dubai is awesome! Especially with friends and family here, and the opportunities we have here are amazing.

UAE Rugby Referee Simon Dodd Has A Choosday Chat

Simon Dodd - UAE Rugby referee

We have a Choosday Chat with UAE Referee, Simon Dodd.

FACT FILE

Age: 40
Born: Rinteln, Germany
Referee Level: Premiership

“I try and stay away from them”

What do you get up to in your spare time?

I’m a full time teacher with a family…not sure what this ‘spare time’ is?

Do you have any phobias?

Rucks mainly, I try and stay away from them.

Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?

A lift engineer, if one is not available then Donald Trump. What a conversationalist!

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

Flying, have you seen the price of plane tickets these days?

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Eating an entire tub of ice cream and then blaming it on the children.

Do you have any hidden talents?

Refereeing – it’s a very hidden talent.

Who or what inspired you to pick up the whistle?

My Dad, an injury and Spreaders (Tony Spreadbury) in South West England. Best seat in the house.

Out of all the refs, who has the worst dress sense?

Well it has to be Hermann – we’re in the new century!!

What’s the toughest thing about reffing?

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork in triplicate.

If you could be one of the other UAE Refs, who would you be and why?

A combination of James and Niell, they are both young and fit – just like me.

What was the last takeaway you ordered?

It was an Indian – I can’t resist an Onion Bhaji or four.

What industry do you work in?

I work education, I’m Chemistry Teacher.

Hows life in the UAE?

I live in Al Ain which is great for the family. The Ramblers (Al Ain Amblers RFC) provide a really good set up with pool, bar and of course the rugby. Both kids are settled and enjoy lots of activities, particularly eating ice cream in the plethora of malls!

Barrelhouse RFC’s Matt Rubin Has A Choosday Chat

Matt Rubin Barrelhouse rugby Dubai

We have a Choosday Chat with Barrelhouse loose head prop, Matt Rubin.

FACT FILE

Age: 41
Born: Buckinghamshire, UK
Club: Barrelhouse Rugby Club
Position: Utility back/Loose head
Height: 180cm
Weight: 120kg

“I developed a trademark bosh”

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

My dad! He took me all around the UK for mini/junior, colts and county and then divisional rugby every week for over 12 years.

Do you have any nicknames?

Most of the lads call me “Rubberman” because I developed a trademark bosh with people bouncing off me, which has since been shortened to just “Rubber”.

Whats been your proudest moment playing rugby in the Middle East?

I haven’t played that much rugby here (3 joint recons on top of 3 previous ones) but personally this season playing 15s in the UAE Community League for the first time in 10 years and beating two very good Dragons and Harlequins teams in the league and playoffs and feeling like I can still contribute to the team. From a club perspective seeing the Warriors team I nurtured for 8 years finally win Dubai 7s in 2017 after 2 previous final losses.

Who does the cooking at home?

That would be either Deliveroo or my housekeeper!

Do you have any hidden talents?

I don’t have many, but I know my electronic music pretty well and I have 100 x DJ mixes in iTunes (Rubber Stamped).

What was the last takeaway you ordered?

I last ordered a Taqado Steak Burrito.

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

Definitely 90’s rave tunes.

What’s the daftest thing you’ve ever bought that just collected dust?

I once bought a music production keyboard in 2009 when I started playing sport again. That was 2500AED down the drain!

Who’s the best dancer in the Barrelhouse squad?

Hempies, there’s no doubt! He’s a light footed winger on the pitch and a complete groover on the dance floor. You will only find me moving on the other side of the decks.

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

Sorry Pasha/Iceman it has to be PJ, he’s a 20+ tackles / 20+ carries a match kind of guy. He’s a beast with a rugby brain and can do it on and off the pitch and he’s a great tourist too.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

I’d love to have a sit down with Jason Leonard, Mickey Skinner and Bakkies Botha, but it would need to be a long lunch.

Who has the worst Dress sense in the squad?

Probably me although I have to say the Red Mist/Gus were seen sporting a terrible green number on our rugby tour.

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

Ha, that would have to be Steve Phoenix. While he would be incredible company during the day with his wonderful jokes and karaoke ballads, he’d no doubt be “lights out” by 8pm after a few too many Coconut Arracks.

How’s life in Dubai?

Well my beautiful now wife Sandy and I came here in 2008 as a couple, but we are blessed to have the delightful Sammy and Grace with number 3, a little sister on the way. The future of Barrelhouse is pink!

Amblers RFC’s Lucian Jansen Has A Choosday Chat

Lucian Jensen - Amblers Rugby Player

We have a Choosday Chat with Amblers outside centre, Lucian Jansen.

FACT FILE

Age: 33
Born: Cape town, South africa
Club: Al Ain Amblers
Position: Outside centre or wing
Height: 180cm
Weight: 107kg

“We do have a few clowns in the team”

Do you have any nicknames?

Yes, I have two actually. One is “Hadji”, I was dubbed this name by my team mates back home because I was the only coloured, Indian looking rugby player in the team. Second one is Wakanda. I went on tour last year to Thailand and told my mate, Tito Asafo, every African looking person that walks past us I will do the Wakanda sign from the Black Panther movie and they will respond, which they did and the name just stuck. Half the team was doing ‘Wakanda forever’ throughout the tour.

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

My high school athletics coach, Thys Ruthven, got me in to rugby mainly because the under 16s school rugby team needed speed and I was the only one keen to do it. That was my first time playing this lovely sport and from then I’ve never looked back.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

Braai, Smoking some Shisha, having a beer and spending time with family and friends, in that order :)

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

Wow, after being part of rugby for such a long time I haven’t given it much thought. I guess enjoying the finer things in life, smoking shisha and occasionally playing FIFA.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I can make a mean sponge cake or so I’ve been told.

Who’s the best dancer in the Amblers squad?

It has to be Tom “Run it straight” Hanks (Not the movie star!!).

Who do you listen to to get pumped for a match?

Baby shark, doo doo hahaha, just kidding. I listen to an American football motivational speech by Coach Flowers called “I am a champion”.

Who are the jokers at the Amblers?

We do have a few clowns in the team. To name a few I have to say definitely Alaa Samman, FC Holdt and I count myself too.

What are the best things about being part of Amblers RFC?

The brotherhood on and off the field, the culture and ethos of the Amblers team, oh also not forgetting the bus rides when playing away games.

What was the last takeaway you ordered?

That’s a no brainer, McDonalds because McDonalds is life!

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

They would probably be Ma’a Nonu and Richie McCaw because it would be awesome to have dinner with those legends and Trevor Noah to add some comic entertainment.

Which opposition do you look forward to playing against the most?

I would have to say Harlequins, always a tough battle on the field.

Who has the worst Dress sense in the squad?

Sean Emmit “Gimmly”, our very own leprechaun ;) He is going to kill me.

Hows life in Al Ain?

Al Ain is good, been here about 2 years and loving it so far. Definitely an easy going life style. It’s an amazing place for my family.

Kyle Bennie From RAK Rugby Is With Us For This Weeks Choosday Chat

Kyle Bennie RAK rugby

We have a Choosday Chat with RAK Rugby‘s Fly Half, Kyle Bennie.

FACT FILE

Age: 30
Born: Larkhall, Scotland
Club: RAK Rugby Club
Position: Fly Half
Height: 178cm
Weight: 93kg

“I’m pretty good on the triangle”

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

Two people really spring to mind; Firstly my big brother Mitchell, he got into rugby and was obsessed. We used to throw the ball about for hours trying to perfect passing off both hands and then move onto kicking with both feet, we also used to watch as many rugby games as possible! We even used to rent old international games which were recorded on VHS. Secondly, my old school teacher Mr Jon Kendry, a proper Welshman, he would push me to my limits in the majority of sports but helped me focus on my rugby and was one of the main reasons I stuck at it and didn’t go down the football route. Thank God!

Whats been your proudest moment playing rugby in the Middle East?

Being in the UAE on and off for over 20+ years has many great and proud moments, but to some it up in three selfish points, they would be;

  1. Representing the Arabian Gulf (Rugby Union) and UAE Falcons (Rugby League)
  2. Being part of a band of brothers who revived Sharjah Wanderers and a band of misfits who established Dubai Wasps
  3. Running out onto a field with my brother, few really close mates and a heap of different international players

Do you have any nicknames?

When I was younger and playing with the wrong shaped ball, I was nicknamed “Wee Barra” after a famous Rangers player but when I turned to the proper egg shaped ball I didn’t really have one. Everyone just referred to me as “Bennie” or “KB” until I joined the Lakes Legends many moons ago, unfortunately with bad hair doos and a few questionable dressed to impress moments at 7am for training – they refer to me as “Corey Jane” or “Corey”.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

I have four kids and a corporate job so I don’t have much spare time but when I do…. I like to spend it with the family out exploring and camping or playing golf or going out motorbiking in the dunes.

Do you have any hidden talents?

Ironically I asked the Mrs recently if she knew any of my hidden talents and she said YES! “Looking busy and achieving Sweet FA around the house!” Apart from that, some say I am pretty good on the triangle and not to shabby around the kitchen.

What was the last takeaway you ordered?

Easy – Eat and Drink, Charcoal Chicken, full service with mutton soup and extra fries. I’m not even ashamed.

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

Definitely flying. It would be easy to travel about and I’d never sit in another traffic jam again!!

What do you miss most about back home?

I miss the usual – the family, the fresh air of the countryside and the different seasons (usually within the same day in Scotland!) and reality! Sometimes being here, you get engulfed with living the expat lifestyle.

Who are the jokers at RAK Rugby?

Of late it would have to be Brian O’Discin (Disco) for his constant messing about and pulling some funny snide remarks out the bag and Dale Rooney, simply because he is a Northern lad and rugby league convert, bringing a completely different yet hilarious chat to the group.

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

It would be a mix between Tomas Young (Mossy) as on his day, he is a tackling machine and seems to be everywhere around the park or Kieran Dorgan as he is lighting and has a great kicking game from his Gaelic football background.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

Elvis Presley, I’m pretty sure he would have a few good stories to tell. Sir Richard Branson, business knowledge and his approach/views on life and one of my late grandparents, purely from a personal perspective on who, what, where, when, why and the old family stories.

Who has the worst Dress sense in the squad?

They are all contenders in their own right, but it would have to be Oisin MacPartlin for his horrendously bright training gear or Neil Jose Carleton with his “don’t give a s&%t attitude (Yes mate – green trainers, yellow socks, blue shorts and a red t-shirts does work! Looks spiffing).

What are the best things about being part of RAK Rugby?

Being part of an up and coming rugby club like RAK is great, there is excitement, growth potential and real belief! It does unfortunately have its down sides, like being so remote and purely relying on teacher retention and new recruits. If the Gaelic football is on the same weekend we play, then we loose 40% of our squad, but all in all the camaraderie is solid and everyone gets stuck in. There is a real family feel and we’re performing the best we have since reviving the club. I hope it can only move forward. Oh….cheap membership and free Dubai 7’s tickets too. (Bonus!)

How’s life in Ras Al Khaimah?

RAK is good. I have only been here 2 years but it reminds me of the “Good old Dubai days”. The community isn’t too big, so you can always see a familiar face or two around town. There is also lots on offer, more adventurous and outgoing opportunities as the mountains are in the back drop and there is a slight temperature difference.

‘Mystic Mike’ Gives Us His 2019 Six Nations Predictions Video

Click Video Above To Watch Or View On YouTube

Mike Phillips Rugby Academy & Yalla Rugby Team Up To Bring You His Six Nations Rugby Predictions For 2019

Mike Phillips Rugby Academy

Mike is promoting his Half Term Holiday Camp which will be running on the 20th and 21st of February 2019 at Foremarke School in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. For further details you can visit his website on https://www.mikephillipsacademy.com/

Video Transcription

Hi it’s Mike Phillips Academy here with Yalla Rugby and here are my predictions for the Six Nations.

6th – Italy

Ok so, the team I think is going to unfortunately finish at the bottom of the table – Italy for me, I think they haven’t really progressed in the last couple of years. I think they’ll find it very difficult during the 6 Nations. The Italian player to look out for in this years Six Nations would be Tommaso Allan.

5th – Scotland

The team I think will come fifth in the competition will be Scotland. They’re a team that improved dramatically over the last few years, but because of injuries and because of the way the fixtures have fallen for them, I think they’ll end up fifth. The Scottish player to look out for would be Stuart Hogg.

4th – France

For me, the team that will end up fourth in this competition will be France. They’ve got so much potential, a great squad, but don’t seem to quite click in the big matches so I think they’ll come in fourth. The play I think to look out for in the French will be Gaël Fickou.

3rd – Ireland

The team that will end up coming third will be Ireland. Obviously they’re one of the best teams in the world at the moment, beating New Zealand in November and constantly improving under a great coach, but for me, they will end up third. Well for me the best Irish player would be Jacob Stockdale. He’s an outstanding player.

2nd – England

A close second for me will be England. I think without doubt, one of the favourites going into the World Cup. Whatever happens in the 6Nations they’ve got so much depth within their forwards and their back division, they’ve been a lot more creative so a close second for England. How do you do a Bristol accent? O’right Governor, the England player to ‘boss it’ will be Henry Slade…apples and pears!

1st – Wales

The team that is going to end up top of the Six Nations this year will be Wales. I think purely because of the way the fixtures are lying, they host England in their third match and Ireland in their last match and I think that they will be victorious in both these matches at home for Warren Gatland’s last 6 Nations Campaign. Well, for me you know, the best Welsh rugby player would be Ken Owens.

Thanks for being with Mike Phillips Rugby Academy and Yalla Rugby. I hope no one was offended by my accents.

I’ve got my Half Term Rugby Camp coming up in Feb from the 20th and 21st, see you there!

Matthis Bathe, Knights U16’s Scrum Half Has A Choosday Chat

Matthis Bathe, Arabian Knights Rugby Player

Arabian Knights Scrum Half – Matthis Bathe talks idols, favourite food and proudest moments.

FACT FILE

Age: 15
Born: Dubai, UAE
Club: Arabian Knights RFC
Position: Scrum/Fly Half
Height: 167cm
Weight: 57kg

“I’d like to understand how difficult a full game of rugby is for a prop”

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

My idols when I was growing up were Jonny Wilkinson and Danny Care. However there were many coaches such as Apollo Perellini and John Taimana who encouraged me to continue playing and practicing.

Do you have any nicknames?

Some of my friends call me Mathitha.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

In my spare time I either play video games, do homework or play around outside.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I love languages and can speak French, Spanish and Arabic.

Who does the cooking at home?

Mainly it’s my Mum but sometimes my Dad cooks.

What would you like to do when you leave school?

I would love to be a Chemical Engineer when I’m older, that would be pretty cool.

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

I would like to be able to control time and I’d travel into the future to see what it’s like.

Have you had any injuries whilst playing rugby?

I haven’t had any major injuries, but I have strained some ligaments in my fingers.

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

I would like to be Umberto and understand how difficult a full game of rugby is for a prop.

Who’s the best dancer in the Arabian Knights.

The best dancer is probably Dan Okenome, he’s got some moves!

What are the best things about being part of the the Knights RFC?

The best things about the Knights Rugby Club is that we are so close, like a family.

What’s your favourite food?

My favourite food is pepperoni pizza.

What do you miss most about back home?

I miss the cold weather and the ability to train at the local rugby pitch whenever I’d like.

Whats been your proudest moment playing rugby in the Dubai?

My proudest moment playing rugby in Dubai was when my team won the HSBC league in U10s.

Sandy Naylor From Dubai Eagles Has A Choosday Chat With Us

Sandy Naylor Dubai Eagles Rugby

We speak with Dubai Eagles Womens forward – Sandy Naylor on flakey people, wet socks and some “alone time”

FACT FILE

Age: 33
Born: Manila, Philippines
Club: Dubai Eagles RFC
Position: Front row in 7s. Back row in 15s
Height: 177cm
Weight: 69kg

“I think I function better in chaos!”

Do you have any nicknames?

I respond to Sandy, Sands, Nayls, and ‘Wife’.

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

At LSE University Sports Sign Up Week 15.5 years ago I was making my way to the netball table and a lovely lady called Hannah tapped me on the shoulder, said “it’s better you come here” and gently ushered me to the local rugby sign up table!

What are your bugbears?

Flaky people, being ripped off, and cold weather.

Do you have any tattoos?

Yes, and I want them lasered off!

What do you get up to in your spare time?

I am a part time personal trainer and have 3 crazy boy children – so between managing them, their activities and my own training at the gym and rugby I really do not have spare time! That said I love being busy and I think I function better in chaos.

Do you have any phobias?

Cockroaches, losing a tooth, and wet socks.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

EASY – Lime Tree Cafe carrot cake. Oh and buffets.

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

Invisibility so I can walk past my children without them shouting “I NEED A SNACK” at me.

Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?

My husband, we don’t get much alone time together 😁 (YR: Giggidy)

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

Hollie for the wheels. Not only is she absolutely rapid over short distances, but she completed the Dubai marathon last weekend that she didn’t even train for in 3hr36!!!

Who’s the best dancer in the Eagles Ladies squad

It’s gotta be the Beth and Chaz twerking twins!

What are the best things about being part of the Dubai Eagles RFC?

The camaraderie, the friendships, and the winning.

What was the last brunch you went on?

Wow I don’t even remember! I don’t actually drink or brunch often because a) I’m a total liability after a few drinks and b) I’m a really incompetent parent when hungover.

How’s life been in Dubai?

Love it. My parents and brother live here, I grew up here so it really is home to me.

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.”

Saracens Captain Taylor Has A Choosday Chat With Us

Jonathan Taylor Abu Dhabi Saracens rugby player

We have a quick Choosday Chat with Abu Dhabi Saracens Flanker and club captain, Jonathan Taylor

FACT FILE

Age: 30
Born: East London, South Africa
Club: Abu Dhabi Saracens
Position: Flanker
Height: 182cm
Weight: 85kg

“You would swear he is colourblind”

Do you have any nicknames?

I just get Jonny or JT. My mates aren’t very creative people when it comes to nicknames.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Chocolate.

Do you have any phobias?

Nope.

What do you miss most about your home country

Obviously my family but also a proper beach with waves.

Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?

Dr Jordan B Petersen (a Canadian professor of psychology at the University of Toronto)

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

My father, he was the coach of my school’s 1st XV so rugby was always part of our household and just a way of life. Some of my earliest memories are playing indoor knee rugby against my brother and inevitably breaking something.

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

Francesco… Everyone wants to be Francesco, some have even tried…. Have you seen him?

Who are the jokers at Sarries?

There’s a few contenders here but it would have to go to Morne, Jakes the snake and our biggest supporter Riad. I don’t think I can elaborate on this publicly.

Who has the worst Dress sense at the club?

Without a doubt it’s Stallone, the guy can’t even wear Sarries gear without clashing colours somehow. You would swear he is colourblind.

How’s life in Abu Dhabi?

Every year seems to be getting better. My wife and I are now expecting our first child as well, so I couldn’t be happier.

What was the last takeaway you ordered?

It was a KFC Boxmaster.

Do you have any hidden talents?

Back home, rowing was my main sport and I always considered myself a better oarsman than a rugby player.

What are the best things about the Saracens rugby club?

The club really is like having a big family. It’s almost impossible to leave training without spending three hours having “just one beer” and just about every week someone is hosting an event and it’s the entire club together again. Off and on the pitch I couldn’t be happier with the boys and girls of Sarries.

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

Definitely flying but I’d probably trade it in for an extra 10kgs.

Jamie Clarke From The Tigers Has A Choosday Chat

Jamie Clarke Dubai tigers

Dubai Tigers Flanker Jamie Clarke has a quick Choosday Chat

FACT FILE

Age: 33
Born: Palmerston North, New Zealand
Club: Dubai Tigers
Position: Flanker
Height: 180cm
Weight: 88kg

“I saw his wallet for the first time at the weekend, but only because his subs were due”

Do you have any nicknames?

It’s boring really, I just get JC, Clarkey or J.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of spare time. If I do and there are some waves in Dubai I’ll be out on the water, other than that I like to get outdoors as much as I can. I do try and get out of Dubai and travel as much as possible though.

Do you have any phobias?

Yeah, I hate snakes.

What do you miss most about New Zealand?

The outdoors along with the surf, the Kiwi food, the beer and of course, my family.

Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?

Probably Richard Branson, at least I could learn a thing or two whilst I was in there!

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

It’s a way of life back home in NZ. Most New Zealanders play rugby, it’s part of our culture and life growing up!

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

None of them because they are all pests…. haha Mandy Garry he’s got the best tan in the team!

Who has the worst Dress sense?

It would have to be Fitzy, because most of the time he doesn’t have any clothes on.

Who’s the tightest?

Noel, aka Leon Dashwood. I saw his wallet for the first time at the weekend, but only because his subs were due in at The Tigers!

How’s life in Dubai?

I can’t complain about life in Dubai, it’s been 12 years in the Middle East so pretty settled here right now and I recon I’ll be around the UAE for a bit longer!

What was the last brunch you went on?

Oktoberfest down at the Hyatt. A decent set up there.

Do you have any hidden talents?

Non that the general public need to know about!

What are the best things about Tigers?

It’s a great club, and an environment where rugby is the reason we show up week in week out, but there is also an understanding that family and work come first because that’s why people are here and it seems to be working well for us.

Who do you listen to to get pumped for a match?

Not much of a music man pre match to be fair, if it all, I’ll blast some sounds from back home, Six60, Fiji, Herbs, Katchafire.

RAK Rugby’s – Gloria Patil Has A Choosday Chat

Gloria Patil with RAK team mates – front row, second from the right.

RAK Rugby Club Ladies Prop Gloria Patil talks phobias, dream dinner guests and Rocky Balboa!

FACT FILE

Age: 28
Born: Mumbai, India
Club: RAK Rugby Club
Position: Prop/Hooker
Height: 152cm

“It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

Do you have any nicknames?

I get ‘Glo’, ‘Glory’ and nowadays some of my teammates call me ‘Baby Dinosaur’ as I’m short but tough on those tackles made on the rugby field!

What do you get up to in your spare time?

Workout, Eat, Sleep and watch some series or movies on Netflix.

Do you have any phobias?

Yes, I’m an acrophobic…petrified of heights!!!

Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?

Any day with my fiancé. [YR – Awwwww]

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

Jane Leonard. She’s funny and at the same time an absolute beast on the field.

Do you have any hidden talents?

Well, I guess they’re still hidden…

What do you miss most about India?

My mom, my fiancé, Leo – my dog and the chaos in Mumbai. Here in RAK it’s too quiet and I am so used to the chaos of India.

What annoys you?

Having to wake up at early each morning.

Who do you like to listen to, to get pumped for a match?

Orlagh, Kylie Minogue, Virginia and our coach – Craig are all good motivators to get me pumped before a big game.

Who’s the best dancer in the RAK Ladies squad?

Well that has to be Briana, she dances very well.

What are the best things about RAK Rugby Club?

The respect and togetherness I get from my teammates and the friendships I’ve made within the team, and also our coach.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

Richie McCaw – All Blacks Rugby Player, John Abraham – Bollywood Actor and Sunny Leone – Bollywood Actress.

How’s life in the UAE?

It’s just been 2 months since I moved here, so far it is going great. The best time is when I have rugby training with the squad and match days… It’s the highlight of my week!

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

I started playing rugby because of some of some friends in college back in 2009. I was the only one who continued to play after college after all my friends stopped playing. I love rugby due to the physicality of the game. In the words of the great Rocky Balboa – “It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

Alex Lee From The Dragons Has A Choosday Chat

Alex Lee from Jebel Ali Dragons RFC

Jebel Ali Dragons Scrum Half Alex Lee talks dislocations, potato sack fashion and life with the Dragons in Dubai

FACT FILE

Age: 31
Born: Hong Kong (But I’m not Chinese despite my last name!!!)
Club: Jebel Ali Dragons
Position: Scrum Half
Height: 178cm… Down hill, with the wind behind me.
Weight: 83kg

“The club and all the boys in it have absolutely helped me. Whether they know it or not!”

Do you have any nicknames?

Just Al. Short for Alex but also because it’s my initials.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

Gym, paddle boarding, drink coffee, people watching, McGettigans, Barasti, Rock Bottoms and Netflix. I’ve just finished ‘The Sinner’ the other day. Although Jessica Biel is easy on the eye it’s pretty disturbing. Good though!

Do you have any phobias?

Seeing joint dislocations usually makes me feel sick.

What do you miss most about England?

Even after 5 years there’s something not right about going to work on a Sunday. I miss a good roast and a pint in a decent pub!

Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?

Jimmy Saville. Jim’ll fix it and get us out.

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

I can’t remember initially but watching the likes of Lawrence Dallaglio, Neil Back, Mike Catt, Martin Johnson and a young Jonny Wilkinson etc back in 1998 definitely inspired me. I remember going down to Twickenham that year, which is a long way from Fleetwood, to watch England v Australia and remember the atmosphere being unreal.

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

Paul Hart. He’s an absolute stalwart, evergreen. He tried to retire this season but he’s just done 80mins in the front row for the 1s XV last weekend. Massive shout out to his wife for letting us have him back!

Who has the worst Dress sense?

Probably our Chairman, Quinney. Despite the constant abuse he likes to regularly don a t-shirt that can only be described as a potato sack. Although saying that there was a pair of purple loafers left at training one night but no one claimed them funnily enough.

Who do you listen to to get pumped for a match?

Usually something chilled like Ben Howard in the car on the way, then Artic Monkey’s in the changing rooms.

Who’s the tightest?

I’ve been told by Matty Henry’s girlfriend he’s pretty tight…

How’s life in Dubai?

People have this preconception of Dubai being very extravagant etc but it’s very much what you make of it. Expat rugby attracts people from so many different backgrounds that you may not otherwise meet out here and our club is very much a family, as cliche as that sounds. So being part of the Dragons makes life out here good. I also work with the UAE Military so this has taken me all over the UAE. Places that people otherwise wouldn’t go to and meeting some very interesting people.

What was the last brunch you went on?

Wanderlust. We’d just lost to ‘Canes the night before so needed to forget that!

Do you have any hidden talents?

Yeh rugby. I’m actually really good but keep it really well hidden.

What are the best things about Dragons?

As I mentioned before about us being a mix of people from different backgrounds, it has to be the people. Otherwise there’s no club. We have a great culture that has definitely evolved over the 5 seasons I’ve been involved.

Being an expat can be tough at times and when life throws some pretty sh*t things at you, it can be even harder. There’s a big awareness of mental health at the minute which I think is great, and I can honestly say that when I lost everything back home, the club and all the boys in it have absolutely helped me. Whether they know it or not. Having a culture that is inclusive of life off the pitch is so important and we’ve got that in abundance. You can guarantee there’s always buy-in whether it’s conditioning work in pre season or a Christmas brunch. There’s a lot of new faces this season and they have definitely become a great part of that. The kit Tsunami provide for us is pretty cool as well! Stops Quinney wearing his potato top for a day anyway!

Mr Lee… it’s been an absolute pleasure. [YR]

Barrelhouse Coach Taylor Hamilton’s Choosday Chat

Taylor Hamilton Choosday Chat

Barrelhouse Fullback Taylor Hamilton talks about noisy eaters, hiding evidence and an inspirational teacher.

FACT FILE

Age: 27
Born: Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Club: Barrelhouse RFC
Position: Fullback
Height: 187cm
Weight: 82kg

“Smart giants in the front and fast silky feet in the back.”

Do you have any nicknames?

The Barrelhouse boys have given me the nickname of ‘Butters’, obviously it’s because of my slick passing!

What annoys you?

I can’t stand the noise of people eating.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

Between running a rugby club and a new business, you’ll usually find me at the local beach or hitting the gym.

Who are the jokers at Barrelhouse?

The jokers are definitely Ryall and Kurt. They’re always great craic.

Do you have any phobias?

Just the eating thing as above!

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

Probably PJ. The boy could easily play pro rugby!

What’s your guilty pleasure?

There’s nothing better than eating a full family pack of crisps and then hiding the evidence.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I Would like to say I can impress on the dance floor. But I’ve recently seen some videos, and now I’m not so sure.

Who has the worst Dress sense?

Matt Rubin, I’ve never seen him with anything other than shorts and a pair of Air Max.

Who do you listen to to get pumped for a match?

I love blasting System of a down just before a big game. It totally gets me in the zone!

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

Probably my primary school coach, Paul Austin inspired me the most as a kid to play rugby.

What are the best things about Barrelhouse?

The camaraderie and brotherhood is like nothing we’ve had before. It’s a team topped with ‘smart giants’ in the front and fast ‘silky feet’ in the back.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

I’d love to have a sit down with Jonny Wilkinson, Jeremy Clarkson and Eminem.

What was the last takeaway you ordered?

It has to be Projeto Açaí. If you’re into your healthy food, you can’t go wrong!!!

Choosday Chat With Knights Scrum Half Shane Narara

Shane Narara Arabian Knights Rugby Club

Arabian Knights Scrum Half Shane Narara talks about useless facts, island life and scented bubble baths.

FACT FILE

Age: 28
Born: Lae, Papua New Guinea
Club: Arabian Knights RFC
Position: Scrum Half
Height: 168cm
Weight: 82kg

“I learned a lot of capital cities and useless facts growing up.”

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

Being from PNG it has to be rugby league with the NRL and State of Origin. Queenslander!!

Do you have any nicknames?

The standard ‘Shano’.

What was the last brunch you went on?

I can’t really remember hahah. Possibly McGettigan’s.

What are the best things about Knights?

The culture and ethos, and of course the Orange!

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

Teleportation I reckon, because my side step’s not that great.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I play a bit of guitar…well, try to anyway.

What do you miss most about PNG?

I miss the laid back, simple island life, and the natural scenic beauty.

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

Maybe Geography. I learned a lot of capital cities and useless facts growing up. [YR – We asked Shane for a useless fact: that Africa is the only continent which is located in all four hemispheres!]

Do you have any phobias?

It’d be between spiders and drunk people with buzz clippers!

Who are the jokers at The Knights?

Definitely Luke Spiteri – “The Dragin” (correct spelling… ask Luke why when you see him next!!) and Willy Njoya.

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

Either Charlie Willis (the captain), or Samson Narokobi. They’re both beasts on the playing field.

Who do you listen to to get pumped for a match?

Some Foo Fighters or Tool.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

Probably Dave Chapelle, Dan Carter and Eric Clapton.

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

That’s a tough one mate. I don’t know, I guess just to enjoy the finer things in life; you know, like nice long walks on the beach, scented bubble baths, and a cold pint of Guinness. [YR – Who doesn’t like a nice scented bubble bath?]

Yalla Rugby Sign New Partnership With Gulf Rugby Management

Alex johnson - Yalla Rugby Founder

Yalla Rugby are delighted to announce that we have been selected as the official media and results partner for Gulf Rugby for the 2018/19 season. Gulf Rugby Management is a new organisation that is part of Emirates Airline – responsible for managing all competitive Mens, Women’s, Schools and Mini & Youth competitions in the UAE.

Operating out of The Sevens Stadium the Gulf Rugby Management team have been looking at ways to manage the publication of results, choosing Yalla Rugby as the obvious choice to be the official media partner. Under the new partnership, Gulf Rugby Management and Yalla Rugby will be hoping to increase the already huge interest in rugby union here in the UAE.

Yalla Rugby will be first to publish all official match fixtures and results and league table standings for the season. Founder of Yalla Rugby, Alex Johnson said;

“I’m really looking forward to the season ahead. I think the additional exposure that Yalla Rugby and Gulf Rugby Management will bring will be great for rugby here in the Middle East.”

 

Ghaith Jalajel with Alex Johnson and Stephen McCafferty from Gulf Rugby Management

Ghaith Jalajel with Alex Johnson and Stephen McCafferty from Gulf Rugby Management

Jim Fitzsimons, Manager of Gulf Rugby Management said;

“It was clear from our early conversations with Alex that his commitment and dedication to providing a first class service on the reporting of results and coverage of UAE rugby matches was just what we wanted. We are delighted to be working with him to help get timely publication of results and fixtures, including all Mini & Youth fixtures’.

It is sure to be a busy season again for rugby in the UAE and the Gulf. For all the latest news and results don’t forget to follow Yalla Rugby and check in every Friday night for the first look at the weekend results and every Sunday for confirmed results and table standings.

Choosday Chat With UAE Referee Jaco de Wit

 

Jaco de Wit - UAE Rugby Referee

Referee Jaco de Wit talks Sushi, Golf and the Big C with us.

FACT FILE

Age: 27
Born: Prince Albert, South Africa
Level: World Rugby Level 3

“Keeping up with play and his holiday diet… now that’s impressive!”

How’s life in Dubai?

Life is busy, but Dubai is such a great place and full of opportunities.

What’s the best thing about being a UAE referee?

The best thing is being part of improving UAE rugby as a whole and the Dubai 7s is always a special occasion for me.

Do you have any phobias?

Apparently nomophobia (being without my mobile).

What do you get up to in your spare time?

I love playing golf and playing on Fifa.

Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?

Any international prop… let’s talk scrum time!!

Do you have any nicknames?

Yeah, I get Jakes a lot.

What’s your favourite type of food?

Bring me Salmon Sashimi… I could have Sushi everyday.

If you could be one of the other UAERF referees, who would it be and why?

Norman Drake, keeping up with play and his holiday diet… now that’s impressive!

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

I’d like to be successful in whatever I do and along the way hopefully inspire people to be the best that they can be.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I’m not too bad at hitting little white balls with an iron stick.

What was the last brunch you went on?

Caramel’s Saturday Brunch. Good wine and the food was not too bad!

What do you miss most about South Africa?

I really miss the farm that I grew up on and Karoo lamb chops.

Do you have any tattoos?

Not yet!

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

Tiger Woods, he can tell me all about comebacks. Cristiano Ronaldo, he can share his knowledge of hard work and Jessica Alba, because you have to have some beauty at the table.

Cheers, Jaco. Jaco de Wit is a cancer survivor which unfortunately ended his playing days.

“I obviously had a love for rugby and picking up the whistle was the perfect way of being part of this amazing sport”.

Jaco is one of the UAE Rugby Referees and earlier this year he represented the UAE on the global stage at the Singapore 7s! If you would like to become a UAE rugby ref, then click the button below.

Choosday Chat With Exiles Centre Alice Luckhurst

Alice Luckhurst Dubai exiles u18s gurls

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

FACT FILE

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

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

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

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

What do you get up to in your spare time?

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

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

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

Do you have any phobias?

Crunching! I hate hearing people eat, especially crisps.

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

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

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

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

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

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

Do you have any hidden talents?

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

Who does the cooking at home?

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

What do you miss most about England?

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

Who’s the best dancer in the Exiles team.

Sophie Millward, she’s got all the moves.

What are the best things about playing for the Exiles?

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

Choosday Chat With Sharks Hooker Armel van Erck

Dubai Sharks hooker Armel van Erck

Dubai Sharks hooker Armel van Erck talks mind reading, broken noses and secret tattoos

FACT FILE

Age: 40
Born: Brussels, Belgium
Club: Dubai Sharks
Position: Hooker
Height: 174cm
Weight: 98kg

“He tried to tackle a bloke with his nose, which ended up getting broken.”

Do you have any nicknames?

I have many… Shorty, Fatty, and Belgie seem to be the most frequent ones used in the changing room!

What do you get up to in your spare time?

Coaching kids’ rugby, cycling, and spending time with my boy, which is the best thing in the world.

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

A few years ago, our fullback – Robbo, tried to tackle a bloke with his nose, which ended up getting broken in the process. There is even a picture showing him in mid air with only his nose touching the guy’s heel. [YR – Look what we found!]

broken nose tackle dubai sharks

Do you have any phobias?

I have an irrepressible fear of heights, which is going to make many people chuckle…

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

I’d love to be able to read people’s minds!

Do you have any hidden talents?

I can cook up a pretty good dinner!

Who has the worst dress sense at the Dubai Sharks?

Definitely Philip Smurthwaite (Smurf).

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

Probably Dan Griffiths, just to see how life is as a short, fat, angry bloke.

Who does the cooking at home?

Easy. Me. I’m the best at cooking in the house.

What do you miss most about Belgium

The forests and the lakes around where I live, the incredible Belgian food, and obviously, my family.

Do you have any tattoos?

Yes. Enough said. [YR – Must be the French flag!!]

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

Barack Obama, Sandra Bullock and Sebastian Chabal.

How’s life in Dubai?

Life in Dubai is great! Rugby plays a big part in making life so good here! I’ve made lots of great friendships over the past 13 years that I’ve spent here too.