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unveiling of the dubai knights eagles rugby club

Eagles and Knights Set To Merge

A press conference was held this morning to announce an exciting merge between the Arabian Knights and Dubai Eagles rugby clubs, both of whom are based at the Dubai Sports City’s Rugby Park ground. In attendance were Knights Chairwoman, Louise Palmer, Eagles Director of Rugby, Sean Carey, Secretary General of the UAE Rugby Federation, Qais Abdulla al Dhalai, CFO of Dubai Sports City, Vijay Sajjanhar and Consultant for DSC, Jeff O’Brian as they officially announced the merge.

dubai knights eagles

The new rugby club will be called the Dubai Knights Eagles

Both clubs share the same goals of developing rugby here in the UAE and are hoping for a tremendous boost by the merge, as they will now be able to offer the full spectrum of community rugby from grass roots, right the way through to senior rugby both male and female. The Knights bring a strong mini/youth rugby section to the party and the Eagles bring top flight Premiership rugby and an incredibly strong womens rugby section as well as mini and junior players.

Collectively the new Dubai Knights Eagles Rugby Club will have over 500 members helping the club move on to bigger and better things next season.

Chairwoman, Louise Palmer said;

“I founded the Knights over 10 years ago with my late husband and have a passion for the rugby community and the support here at Sports City has been amazing. So here I am 10 years later looking for stability more than anything and for the legacy of the club to go on with the ethos and the ethics that we’ve always built where everybody gets to play rugby.” 

Director of Rugby, Sean Carey said;

“For me I see this as a huge potential for growth in the region for rugby. As you know, the Knights have been around a while and they’ve got a great junior setup. The merge is perfect with the different teams coming together. The ultimate goal is the development of rugby and thats also the vision of Dubai Sports City and the UAE Rugby Federation’s vision also.”

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

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.

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?]

gulf rugby season preview 2018

2018/19 Gulf Rugby Season Preview

The start of the 2018/19 Gulf Rugby season is now upon us and with pre-season in full swing at most of the nation’s rugby clubs, it’s time to look ahead at the action in store for us and see how all of the domestic league competitions are shaping up. The summer has not been without its usual period of change as clubs come to terms with the usual spate of player arrivals and departures. Here’s what we know about how things will line up this season.

Jump Right In

UAE/West Asia Premiership

West Asia Premiership season 2018-19

UAE Premiership season 2018-19

Holders: Jebel Ali Dragons (West Asia) and Dubai Exiles (UAE)

Format: A straight league set up with all sides playing each other home and away over three rounds (Home, Away, Home). The champions of the West Asia Premiership will be decided between the top four teams after all league rounds are complete via playoff semi finals and final. Likewise, the top four UAE based outfits (discarding results against Bahrain) will have a semi final playoff to see who will play on finals day for the right to be crowned UAE Premiership Champions.

Ins and Outs: After a difficult season which saw them finish bottom of the pile with only one win, Abu Dhabi Saracens have decided to be relegated to the Conference league this year as they embark on a rebuilding phase.

UAE/West Asia Premiership Teams

Bahrain, Dragons, Eagles, Exiles, Harlequins Hurricanes

UAE Conference

UAE conference season preview 2018-19

Holders: Dubai Tigers

Format: Pay attention because things are about to get a little complicated in the second tier of Gulf rugby!

The ten UAE Conference sides have been split into two groups who will each play home and away fixtures during the first half of the season. Group A are formed of all UAE Premiership represented clubs and Group B are all other UAE rugby clubs. They will all fall under one league table this year with no split league as seen in previous years.

Part two of the season will see the sides face opposition from outside their group but only once. Points earned are added to their initial group totals. The season then culminates with the top two sides from each group entering the knockout stages with the Conference final scheduled for the end of March 2019.

UAE Conference Teams

Group A:
Harlequins 2s, Eagles 2s, Exiles 2s, Hurricanes 2s, Dragons 2s

Group B:
Amblers, Saracens, Knights, Sharks, Tigers

Ins and Outs: The Conference league was dealt a blow this week with the withdrawal of last season’s runners up and one of the UAE’s oldest rugby clubs, Sharjah Wanderers, citing lack of numbers. They will be replaced by the Dubai Eagles 2s who played their first season of Community rugby last year. Abu Dhabi Saracens 1s have dropped down from the UAE and will only field one team this season.

UAE Community

UAE Community season preview 2018-19

Holders: Abu Dhabi Harlequins 3s

Format: An initial league stage with each side playing each other once, aiming to secure a top two finish and a place at finals day where the champions will be decided.

Ins and Outs: Unsurprisingly for a league that fluctuated in size over the course of last season, the UAE Community rugby competition has seen its fair share of off-season activity. Barrelhouse, a club that is well established on the 7s circuit, make a welcome league debut whilst the Shaheen have also signalled an intent to return to the competition this year. Dubai Tigers’ expanding squad size sees them enter a 2s team for the first time. The Dubai Hurricanes will not field a 3rd team this year so will not participate in Community rugby. Disappointment comes in the shape of the Beaver Nomads, traditionally a team to beat at Community level, being forced to withdraw from this year’s competition.

UAE Community Teams

Amblers 2s, Barrelhouse 1s, Dragons 3s, Harlequins 3s, RAK 1s, Shaheen 1s, Sharks 2s, Tigers 2s

uae womens rugby season preview 2018

Womens Rugby

Holders: Dubai Eagles

Format: We’ll be doing a dedicated Womens Rugby article closer to their first set of fixtures (5th October), but to give you an idea of what to expect this season, there will be eight rounds of rugby where we’ll see Sevens rugby played at Harlequins, Hurricanes, Amblers, Saracens, Sharjah, Tigers and finally Eagles.

This season, there will be an invitational 15-a-side match held on finals day at The Sevens Stadium, alongside the other mens rugby Premiership, Conference and Community league finals which will be held on the 29th March 2019 which should bring the close to the season to an exciting climax this year with all levels featured on the final day.

uae mini youth rugby season preview 2018

Mini & Junior Rugby

This season we will hopefully see the Mini and Youth Rugby results and league tables featured for the first time on the website. We’re really looking forward to bringing you as much of the rugby action as possible here in the Middle East, so be sure to check back on a weekly basis.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Arabian Knights RFC training at Fitrepublik Dubai

While players across the UAE start their pre-season conditioning, the work behind the scenes for the new season preparations begins much earlier for club management. Local Dubai side, the Arabian Knights RFC leadership team have been hard at work throughout the offseason to showcase the club’s strength in what will be it’s 10th Anniversary year. Founded in 2008, the club is 600 members strong and offers rugby coaching for kids from the age of 5 to over senior rugby at 35+.

After a season of disruption to the seniors’ setup last year, it is the Men’s rugby teams that has experienced a revival during the offseason in preparation for a competitive charge into 2018/19. Welcoming Ric Lambert to the 1st team coaching setup, concluding an agreement with Sports City-based FitRepublik, and appointing a Club Captain to strengthen the team’s leadership and infrastructure, the team is setting their sights firmly to the top half of the Conference table this coming season.

“Having someone of Ric’s experience on board has already been telling in our preparations”

“Having someone of Ric’s experience on board has already been telling in our preparations,” says chairperson, Louise Palmer. “Under the guidance of coaches Wayne Terry and now Ric, we have a core team of young, exciting talent and looking to build on the season ahead. We can’t wait to get going.”

While cardio work for the players began back in June, a sea of distinctive orange vests descended on Sports City’s FitRepublik for their first group session of strength and conditioning on Monday night, with the players taking full advantage of the club’s investment in making available world class facilities and trainers to their members and newcomers.

Arabian Knights 1st vs Dubai Hurricanes 2nd

“In the club’s 10th year, we’re all set to do the club and ourselves proud,” says Charlie Willis, team captain and Number 8. “While clubs endure player turnover every year, mostly to relocation, the interest from fresh blood for the 2018/19 season has been very encouraging,” he added.

The Arabian Knights Mens and Vets teams are based at Kings School Al Barsha during the regular season. For preseason, they gather every Friday morning at 07:30 for an open beach session at Kite Beach, or twice a week at FitRepublik for the remainder of August.

Wanderers vs Dragons UAE Conference league 2017


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Whats New With The UAE Conference League?

  • Dubai Wasps will not compete this year
  • Abu Dhabi Saracens 2s drop to the Community league
  • Arabian Knights and Dubai Sharks to play at new home venues

amblers harlequins conference rugby final 2017

Will the Al Ain resurgence continue?

It was a tumultuous season last time round for the men from the Garden City. After dropping out of the Premiership a mere two games in to the competition, citing an inability to field a team, they found life easier in the Conference racking up some big wins en route to finals day. A loss in a thrilling contest with Harlequins 2s will no doubt motivate the Amblers to go one better this time around. The Amblers once again cite player retention as having been a challenge over the summer but under the guidance of new head coach Sean Emmett a more stable club environment and a core of players at their disposal who have competed at Premiership level should see them prosper.

sharks tigers conference uae rugby final 2017

Can anyone gate crash the top half?

The late season top-bottom half make up has had a familiar look to it in recent seasons with Dubai Tigers and Dubai Sharks contesting the bottom half final for two years running. Both must surely go in to this season with sights firmly set on a top half finish this year and competing for greater honours. Recent form suggests the Tigers are the better bet, having emerged victorious on finals day and bolstered their coaching ranks over the summer with the addition of the experienced Peter Kelly. Both the Sharks and Arabian Knights have both had to contend with the upheaval of losing their home ground at Sports City to the new boys, Dubai Eagles, but both remain confident that their player base will remain loyal with the Knights securing a prime new venue at Kings College Barsha and Sharks playing this seasons rugby at Jebal Ali Centre of Excellence.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Knights vs Sharks Dubai derby uae rugby

 

 

Dubai Derby day in Sports City

With the Knights confidence boosting win over the Saracens last weekend, you might have had your money on the home side to take the win in this local Dubai derby matchup against a struggling Sharks side.

Unfortunately for the Knights, things didn’t go their way, losing the game 24-39 to the Sharks. A lack of ball control at the breakdown and silly penalties led to a couple of turnover tries, which saw the Sharks quick to capitalise on their mistakes. For the Knights, there were some solid runs from Kassim Buyondo and Sean Corroon and some good defensive work from winger Will Boardman. The build up to this game for the Knights was slightly unsettled as their first choice hooker – Serunjoji Paul was ruled out with a broken foot with Jake Myers stepping into the position for the first time.

Knights Manager, John Taimana said, “At the end of the day, we lost the match at the breakdown with ball security not up to the standard required.”

He went on to say “The ruck was hotly contested and a number of penalties ensured that one team was able to put pressure on, which for this game was the Sharks” before finally adding, “Now, we prepare for the Bottom 5 rounds and will look forward to facing them again.”


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The Sharks can be pleased with themselves after a disappointing post sevens period of rugby, culminating in them having to forfeit last weeks game against the Exiles, simply because they did not have enough fit players. Yesterdays derby saw the return of Dan Crumplin in the front row, who put in a ‘man of the match’ performance with his relentless defence. This game also saw captain and UAE strongman, Joe Corcoran returning after the birth of his first child and putting in some solid contact. Together, they managed to set a platform for the team to get a rhythm going.

There is still a long list of players yet to return from injury for the Sharks, who will only strengthen the side but the coaches will be faced with selection headaches from players coming off the bench and holding their hands up – Paul Waters in particular having a good spell at full back.

Head coach Adrian Cartwright said, “Naturally, we’re disappointed to not be getting a Top 6 finish, something that seemed to almost be a given after 4 wins from the opening 6 games, but injuries have had a significant impact since the Dubai Sevens and so yesterday was reassuring for many of the guys.”

Cartwright added, “Most importantly, the game was played in great spirit and was a good match to watch with the Knights threatening right to the end, resulting in both teams seeming to enjoy the afternoon.”

Both teams now out of the race to be in contention with a Top 6 place, this game was all about the bragging rights and the turf war. As local Dubai derbys go, this Sports City fixture was always going to be a good one to watch.

Other Conference Results

Elsewhere in the UAE Conference, Amblers just secured their place in the Top 6 with a strong performance over the Saracens, beating them 63-10. They finished level in the table with Tigers but go through on points difference. The Wasps vs Tigers game was forfeited due to Wasps injury troubles seeing them unable to put a side together. A strong performance from the Harlequins 2’s saw them end the unbeaten run from the Dragons 2’s, winning convincingly 41-18. Over at The Sevens, the Hurricanes 2’s just scraped a win against Exiles 2’s with a last minute try in the corner after a late scrum, leading to their flanker diving over from 5 yards out, taking the victory 39-34. It will be an interesting next few months as we now split the Conference League into Top 6 and Bottom 5.

By Alex Johnson

 

uae conference rugby round up Tom Davies

After a quiet few months off, the UAE conference tournament is back for what looks to be an exciting season of rugby. The opening weekend saw some great matches take place across the UAE.

Defending champions Sharjah Wanderers began their campaign with a comfortable 34-7 win over the Dubai Sharks, showing their intent for back-to-back Conference triumphs.

The Arabian Knights lost a hard fought battle with the Wasps 15-29. The Knights seemed to win the battle of the forwards for the majority of the match but in the end discipline let them down and the Wasps made them pay for their mistakes.

The Dragons 2nd XV cruised to an impressive 58-3 win over the Al Ain Amblers 2nd XV, announcing that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with this season.

The final match saw the Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2nd XV go head to head with the Dubai Exiles 2nd XV. With both sides having finished in the top half of the table last season neither team wanted to drop points on the opening weekend. The result went the way of the Exiles who ran away with it to win 41-5.

A look ahead to this weekends UAE Rugby

The action continues this weekend coming with round 2 of the UAE Conference taking place, the pick of the matches is the Hurricanes 2nd XV taking on the Dragons 2nd XV, both teams have ambitions to finish in the top half of the table and the Dragons will definitely want to continue the great start they have made to the season.

Thats not all thats taking place this weekend with the beginning of both the UAE Premiership and Community League. The Premiership sees The Amblers entertaining the Abu Dhabi Saracens and the Dubai Hurricanes taking on the Abu Dhabi Harlequins. The match to watch in the Community League has the be the Beaver Nomads against the Sharks 2nd XV, the Nomads will be looking to defend their title this season and will hope to start it off with a win.

By Tom Davies

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