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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.

Choosday Chat With Canes Hooker Max Physick

Max Physick Dubai hurricanes hooker

Dubai Hurricanes hooker Max Physick talks teleportation, life on Mars and budgy smugglers

FACT FILE

Age: 27
Born: Bangor, North Wales
Club: Dubai Hurricanes
Position: Hooker/Flanker
Height: 178cm
Weight: 90kg

“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!

Choosday Chat With UAE Referee Tony Duminy

Tony Duminy UAE rugby referee

UAE Referee Tony Duminy talks nicknames, braais and condensed milk

FACT FILE

Age: 37
Born: Uitenhage, South Africa
Level: World Rugby Level 3, Asia Rugby B-Panel & #1 on UAE Premiership Panel.

“I quickly apologised and changed it to a yellow card”

Do you have any nicknames?

I’ve obtained quite a few over the years. You can always tell where someone knows me from simply by which nickname they’re using: TD, TonyD, Smiley, T-Dog, T-Bone and Pastor.

What are your bugbears?

I dislike rude people (and idiots!).

What do you get up to in your spare time?

Mostly I get up to entertaining my daughter, but I enjoy playing golf, fishing and cooking up a good braai! (YR: For those not in the know, braai or braaivleis is South African for a picnic or barbecue where meat is grilled over an open fire)

Tony Duminy

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

It’s a long list really, but it ranges from players’ expressions when they’ve been stitched up by a team-mate when they’ve been given a hospital pass to the wry smile they give me when they realise they’ve been caught out “bending the laws”, but last year… a premiership fly half made his way to the line out where he wanted to query/complain to the ref (who he knew rather well). This started to create a scene, so the ref simply asked him “are you here to lift?” It broke the ice, everyone laughed and they got on with the game. (YR: Brilliant!)

Whats been your most embarrassing moment during a game?

Once I mistakenly pulled out the red card for repeated infringements, not understanding why the player was so distraught, until the opposition captain said “Reds a bit harsh Mr Ref”. Realising my mistake, I quickly apologised and changed it to a yellow card.

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

Norman Drake, He’s forever on holiday!

What would you like to achieve outside of refereeing rugby matches?

I’d like to be a good husband and father.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Condense Milk or Caramel Treat. (YR: No strawberries???)

Do you have any hidden talents?

I used to play the guitar pretty well.

What do you miss most about South Africa?

Phuza Thursday, College (schoolboy) rugby derby days, the post match fines and meetings at Buffs and Old Selbonians.

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

Teleportation, I spend so much time driving at the moment that it would make life a lot easier if I could just click my fingers and be where I needed to be in an instant, instead of just being stuck in the Dubai traffic.

Who has the worst Dress sense out of the refs?

Oh I’d be the last one to judge on that!

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

Most commonly Coldplay and Tiësto but I like to change it up a lot.

Choosday Chat With Quins Fly Half Luke Stevenson

Luke Stevenson Harlequins rugby player

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

FACT FILE

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

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

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

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

What do you miss most about the UK?

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

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

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

Who has the worst Dress sense?

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

Vince McMahon

Do you have any hidden talents?

None :(

Do you have any phobias?

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

Who are the jokers at the Harlequins?

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

Do you have any nicknames?

None that I know of.

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

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

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Phil Abraham’s voice.

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

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

What do you get up to in your spare time?

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

Choosday Chat With Al Ain Ambler’s Hannah Hall

Hannah Hall - Al Ain Amblers Rugby Player

Al Ain Amblers speedster Hannah Hall talks Baywatch style rescues, local driving etiquette and chucking salt

FACT FILE

Age: We don’t ask!
Born: Gloucester, United Kingdom
Club: Al Ain Amblers
Position: Wing/Scrum Half
Height: 158cm
Weight: 49kg

“Simultaneously the scariest and most embarrassing moment of my life!”

What do you get up to in your spare time?

(laughs) Spare time isn’t something I’m familiar with but I try and grab as much time in the gym as possible.

What annoys you?

When I am driving and I give way to someone but they don’t say thank you. Grrrrr!

Do you have any nicknames?

Pocket Rocket. I’m small enough to fit in your pocket and run like a rocket!

Any superstitions?

I have issues with passing someone else on the stairs or dropping salt and having to throw it over my shoulder afterwards. You don’t want to be within a 2 metre radius of me when that happens!

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

Do you think The All Blacks would fit in a lift?

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

Definitely Courtney because she always looks so stylish.

Who are the jokers at Amblers WRFC?

My entire team! It’s always a laugh a minute with them.

Do you have any hidden talents?

Well I didn’t know I would be any good at playing rugby until 12 months ago so I’d have to say that.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Basking Robbins sundaes, they rock!

Who does the cooking at home?

Me. I do everything.

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

Being a good Mum.

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

I’d like to be able to freeze things… I love the snow!

Most embarrassing moment?

Getting stuck on the rocks as the tide had come in around me, whilst exploring a beach in Sydney. Anyway, to cut a long story short. I had to be rescued, by a lifeguard who looked about twelve years old, in an inflatable dinghy whilst the entire beach watched. Simultaneously the scariest and most embarrassing moment of my life!

Choosday Chat With Dubai Eagles Player Conor Coakley

Conor Coakley Eagles rugby player

Dubai Eagles second row Conor Coakley talks changing room calamities, shares in Snapchat, and dodgy dress sense.

FACT FILE

Age: 33
Born: Arklow, Republic Of Ireland
Club: Dubai Eagles
Position: Second Row
Height: 193cm
Weight: 105kg

“One of my phobias is nuns…. they scare me. I would also have to say I’m a bit of a Trypophobic”

Song to get you pumped for a match?

Rocky Road to Dublin, by The Dubliners.

Who are the jokers at Eagles?

They would have to be Daniel Crumplin, Gorgeous George Agius, Mark Sumner.

Do you have any nicknames?

I have too many to name and none that are flattering.

What annoys you?

Jamie Webb. (Eagles player)

What do you get up to in your spare time when not playing rugby?

I love to travel as we’re pretty much the gateway of the world here in Dubai. I also play guitar, and I sometimes like to give myself motivational talks too.

Do you have any phobias?

One of my phobias is nuns…. they scare me. I would also have to say I’m a bit of a Trypophobic. (We’ll let you look that one up!)

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

If I could have one superpower, it would have to be the ability to fly. No more Dubai traffic!!!!

What’s the daftest thing you’ve ever bought?

There’s too many that come to mind… but some shares in Snapchat were probably the daftest thing I’ve bought.

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

Padraig ‘Podge’ Crowley. We are all only participants in Podge’s world.

Do you have any hidden talents?

Art; I paint. I can also sing in full “Dancing at the Crossroads” by The Wild Swans. Oh and archery, I’m good at that too.

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

It wasn’t on the the pitch but in the changing rooms before a big game, circa 2010 for Doha, when Angus Frasier broke his own nose pulling on his sock. (Ouch)

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

Joe Rogan, he’s a standup comedian and martial arts commentator.

Who has the worst Dress sense in the Eagles?

There are several contenders but it must be Cameron Dearie for his pointy shoes with spikes. I think he got them from Dragon Mart.

Choosday Chat With Exiles Back Row Jaen Botes

Jaen Botes UAE rugby player

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

FACT FILE

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any nicknames?

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

Do you have any phobias?

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

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

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

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

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

Who are the jokers at the Exiles?

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your guilty pleasure?

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

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

Invisibility, for many reasons!!

Your Mastermind specialist subject?

Rugby, I basically live and breathe it.

Do you have any hidden talents?

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

Mike Phillips Teams Up With Just Play To Launch UAE Rugby Academy

Mike Phillips rugby academy


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Welsh Rugby Legend Mike Phillips Teams Up With Just Play To Launch His First Rugby Academy In The UAE

  • Opening to teams of girls and boys aged from 3 to 11 years old
  • Aiming to encourage more girls to get involved in the sport
  • Essential fitness and rugby skills from Phillips and a team of elite coaches

Welsh international rugby star Mike Phillips has teamed up with Just Play to launch his first rugby academy in the UAE.

Phillips, Wales’ most capped scrum-half with 99 appearances for the Welsh national side and the British and Irish Lions, will put young rugby stars aged from 3 to 11 years old through their paces with a host of fun activities at the new Dubai-based Mike Phillips Just Play Rugby Academy.

The Academy will hold regular training sessions at the English College Dubai in Jumeriah 3 and the Nord Anglia International School Dubai in Hessa Street.

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Each session will be carefully designed to help boost the players’ skills and improve their overall fitness while also making sure they have fun and enjoy playing the sport.

I’m delighted to be launching a brand-new Academy here in the UAE with Just Play”

The academy gives the rugby stars of tomorrow a unique opportunity to train alongside one of the game’s most experienced players and to learn first-hand the skills that helped propel Phillips to the top of the sport.

mike phillips rugby dubai

Rugby is hugely popular in the UAE, with teams of boys and girls of all ages regularly taking part in games and inter-school tournaments across the Emirates.

“I’m delighted to be launching a brand-new Academy here in the UAE with Just Play, called the Mike Phillips Rugby Academy in Dubai,” said Phillips. “There is a huge amount of support for rugby in the UAE, from the grassroots level all the way to the international game.”

“I’m really looking forward to working with some exciting young players and passing on the skills and knowledge that has served me so well over the years to a new generation. The great thing about rugby is that it’s for everyone. It can be played by boys and girls.”

“In recent years we have seen more females getting involved in the game, not just within the UAE but globally, with a thriving women’s professional game and a growing female development programme. This is great for the future of the sport and something we are very keen to encourage at the Mike Phillips Just Play Rugby Academy. I’m thrilled to have the chance to work with mini & junior rugby here in Dubai.”

Welsh rugby player Mike Phillips

Phillips made his name on the international rugby scene thanks to his outstanding performances for the Welsh team and the British and Irish Lions. His club career includes spells at professional clubs such as Bayonne, Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Racing Metro, Sale Sharks, and most recently the Scarlets.

A popular figure in the sport, Phillips came out of retirement to play two games for the Scarlets in their Pro14 fixtures in South Africa in November and December this year.

Leading youngsters in the fun-packed training sessions alongside Phillips will be Just Play’s much-loved rugby coach, Emlyn Jones. Welshman Jones has been coaching young rugby players in Dubai for three years.

Jones has more than 25 years of experience as a rugby coach, including spells playing for Pontypool and Abergavenny academies in the UK and coaching in many clubs and schools across the South West of England. His friendly and fun teaching methods have made him a favourite with students.

dubai rugby academy just play

As well as learning from expert coaches, youngsters who attend academy sessions at the English College Dubai and the Nord Anglia International School Dubai will be able use some of the best training facilities in the UAE.

Players looking to join in the training sessions can now sign up for the new term which will take place from Monday January 15th to Friday April 27th 2018. Participation in the spring term costs AED 1,450 and includes a full rugby kit.

We Interview Brian O’Driscoll At Last Weeks Dubai 7s

Brian O'Driscoll with Yalla Rugby in Dubai


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Brian O’Driscoll was at the Dubai 7s last week acting as an HSBC Rugby Ambassador. When Yalla Rugby caught up with him during the event; he shared with us his impressions of rugby in the UAE, how he is coming to terms with retirement and why British & Irish Lions fans should give Warren Gatland more credit…

The word legend is perhaps overused in sporting terms but there can be few who would begrudge that label of Brian O’Driscoll, a man of 133 caps for Ireland, veteran of four Lions tours and winner of three Heineken Cups at Leinster. As if we’re in any doubt, as we sit down with him on the sidelines of an HSBC pre-tournament press conference, it’s not long before he’s musing about a ‘Rugby Centurions’ function he attended shortly before flying out, reserved for those with 100 or more test caps. Pretty exclusive criteria for a dinner invite.

“The transition is very difficult, even if you do it on your own terms, that immediate nature of one day being part of a team and the next not”

Despite hanging up his boots four years ago, and seemingly establishing himself on the black tie circuit, ‘BOD’ cuts as good a figure now as he did in his playing days. He admits that keeping physically fit has been important in his transition to retirement.

“The transition is very difficult, even if you do it on your own terms, that immediate nature of one day being part of a team and the next not. One thing I would encourage any players finishing up to do, is continue exercising. I took a big break from it for a couple of years and I probably needed to rest my body but I’ve got back in to training and it’s so good for the head – I try to design my day around that where possible.”

BOD and the ‘Death Zone’

Indeed, his eagerness to keep in shape saw the 38 year old agree to join the England 7s squad for their infamous ‘death zone’ training session in the lead up to the opening round of the World 7s Series. He laughs off our jibe about donning the red rose during the session, claiming it “didn’t bother me in the slightest” despite the potential stick from his old playing mates.

Ex-pros often point to such dressing room camaraderie as the part of the game they miss the most but for O’Driscoll, it is something more precise. “It’s more the feeling of adding value to something and trying to find the next thing you are doing and adding the same level of value” he explains with the same self-assured poise that accompanied his on field leadership for so many years.

bod HSBC deeath zone

Having burst on to the world rugby scene with his wonder try for the Lions against Australia in 2001, it was in that famous red jersey that he added as much of that ‘value’ as anywhere else. Reflecting on this summer’s tour to New Zealand he is quick to distance himself from fellow Irishman Sean O’Brien’s comments that Warren Gatland’s management had cost the tourists a 3-0 win.

“I don’t really know the rationale behind it. I think if Sean had his time back he might verbalise it a little differently – there is nothing to be benefitted from saying that sort of thing. It was quite a stretch to think they should have won the series 3-0, it was a good draw from the Lions perspective, not a bad one. New Zealand should be kicking themselves that they threw it away in that third test in the first 10-15 minutes in reality. We’ve only ever won one series over there so to think it should have been 3-0…I’m not so sure about that.”

We put it to him that regardless of the results on the field, bars screening tour matches here in the UAE would have been packed out anyway, such is the popularity of the Lions concept. Yet, outside the ex-pat bubble, questions over its relevance in the professional age persist. He doesn’t think the dissenting voices are any cause for alarm.

“The enormity of it is great, we are as excited about it in the UK & Ireland as you are out here about where the tour is going to go in South Africa in four years time. It is such a unique thing from a player’s perspective to get to play with a group of players you’ll never get to go on a rugby pitch again with and yet you’ve formed these bonds. I don’t think you have bonds like you did in the old days when they went on three month tours but you do form friendships with certain players and you pick up where you left off. You’ve to remember as well that for as much as its great for the Lions because of the business that it is, its also great for the touring country, with the impact it has on their economy through the spend involved in going out and watching it.”

If O’Driscoll is any oracle, McGettigans and co can breathe easily and look forward to another bumper summer in 2021.

Alex Johnson Brian O'Driscoll Huw Harrow

So would a potential move to Dubai and growing the game internationally interest him?

“I don’t think my skin could take the sun out here!” he jokes, but he does see significant potential for growing the game of rugby in the UAE and thinks others may follow in the footsteps of Denis Hurley, the former Ireland and Munster centre, who began coaching at Dubai Exiles this season.

“It’s great to see the appetite for it and having a draw like the Dubai 7s can only enhance the game’s reputation here and of course there’s a big ex-pat rugby community to tap in to. I didn’t know (Hurley) was out here! I had lots of battles against Denis back in the day and I could think of worse things to be doing than coaching in Dubai, if you’re going to coach somewhere, why not here?!”

Article By: Huw Harrow

Join Mike Phillips At The ALS Rugby Foot Golf

als rugby foot golf Dubai

Show Your Support For ALS/MND

Lifestyle Events are hosting a Rugby Foot Golf event for the J9 Foundation and the late rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen.


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Date: 22nd November 2017
Time: 19:00
Venue: The Address Montgomerie Dubai

They’re hosting the event for ALS/MND and would like local UAE rugby teams, fans and supporters to enter the event in an effort to support the foundation and their ongoing efforts in providing medical research and relief for those that suffer from this devastating disease.

The ALS FootGolf event is a total goofy fun event where we will see which club/team has the biggest boot, while support this worthily cause and paying tribute to a fallen Rugby legend.

The event will take place at the Par3 course by the Montgomerie Dubai, however they will be switching out the normal club and balls for Boots and Balls, where all nine holes will be played with a rugby ball. The best two scores out of the fourball will count towards their overall team score and hopefully be crowned champions.

Mike Phillips

Attending this great event will be Mike Phillips as their guest host which here at Yalla, we’re sure you are well informed about the pedigree he carries and will be having a Q&A session with the man himself.

What is ALS?

  • ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks the upper and lower motor neurons.
  • Degeneration of the motor neurons leads to weakness and wasting of muscles, causing increasing loss of mobility in the limbs, and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing.
  • The disease affects each individual in a different way, so there is no definitive set of symptoms.
  • ALS does not usually affect the senses or the bladder and bowel. Some people may experience changes in thinking and behaviour, often referred to as cognitive impairment, but very few will experience severe cognitive change at all.
  • ALS is classed as a rare disease and therefore few people (in the greater scheme of population) are touched by it or know of it.
  • Because it is a rare disease, there is no help from government concerning any research, awareness or medical help.
  • Most medical staff have no knowledge about ALS and therefore do not know how to treat people.
  • There is no known cause therefore we cannot implement preventative measures
  • There is no cure therefore we can only make a patients life more comfortable while they are still alive.
  • ALS is not listed on the medical act’s prescribed minimum benefits list and therefore ALS patients are not covered by medical aid schemes.

For more information on ALS or Motor Neurone Disease click here

Beaver Nomads – A Dubai Rugby Team That’s All About Fun


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We Chat With Co Chairman Of The Dubai Beaver Nomads: Karl McGowen

Originally a 7’s team, the Beaver Nomads became a 15-a-side rugby team in Dubai in 2015. It was during this first season of full 15’s rugby that the Nomads were crowned UAE Community League Champions 2015/16 in it’s inaugural year.

The Nomads started playing in the Dubai Emirates Rugby Sevens back in 1998, and still to this day manage to put 3 teams in the popular rugby 7’s tournament, including a vets squad for the over 35’s section.

We got in touch with Co Chariman – Karl McGowen to ask him why people should join the Beaver Nomads rugby club and what it is that really sets them apart from the other clubs in the area.

“I think the Beaver Nomads is all about mates really. We’re a social rugby team, having last year won the UAE Community League and this season we finished 3rd.” said McGowen.

Dubai Beaver Nomads Rugby Club UAE

If you’ve played before or never picked up a rugby ball in your life, the Beaver Nomads would be a great place to start.

“Our focus is more about having fun, while playing rugby. We’ve got a mix of players who have never played rugby before, to international level.” added McGowen.

At the moment, the Nomads only have the one team, playing in the UAE Community League (Tier 3 UAE rugby) offering mens rugby to 19 years of age and above.

Training only once a week, they’re more suited to the newbies to ex-players who are interested in getting a social game of rugby once a fortnight, yet still allowing you to keep those all important social commitments that we all know and love – the Friday Brunches!

If you’re interested in playing rugby in Dubai, be sure to get in touch with Karl either by visiting the Beaver Nomads club profile page or by visiting their Facebook Page.