UAE With Another Big Win in Thailand
After thumping Guam in the semi finals of the Division 2 Championship, UAE Rugby took on their hosts, Thailand, in a Championship Cup Final showdown to earn head coach, Apollo Perelini and his (some might say strongest to date) UAE side promotion up to the Asia Rugby Division One league next season. They will join the likes of the Singapore, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Chinese Taipei. The Division One Championship is due to kick off next week in Taipei City, Taiwan.
Saturday’s match against Thailand looked to be heading for another pasting for the opposition facing an in form UAE squad, as they went in at half time 45 points up on the hosts, but credit to a resilient Thai side, they managed to put 12 points on the scoreboard in the second half and only allow a content UAE side to add another 5 points to complete up a successful campaign back to Division One. Perelini praised his team saying;
“The boys did me proud, even though they put the cue on the rack at half time.”
It’s been a phenomenal year for Exiles lock forward – Stephen Ferguson, following what started as a pretty rocky start to the season with injury woes, to come through the second half of the season fighting fit again and ending up in the UAE National squad.
Collectively Perelini’s squad have totalled 132 points and conceded just 19 in their Asia Rugby Championship campaign of 2019. Over the two matches, Botes scored 5 tries, Natuna with 4, Naisau and Richards both getting 3, Ferguson with 2 and Anderson, Armitage and Stevenson getting one each. UAE Captain and Harlequins fly-half Luke Stevenson’s kicking rate was impressive, converting 16 of the 20 tries.
UAE now head home for a well deserved break and will be saying farewell to stand-in defensive coach, Louie Tonkin, who heads for pastures new after leading newly crowned West Asia Champions of 2018/19, Bahrain Rugby following a close encounter with Dubai Exiles back in March. Tonkin will be heading to Exeter Chiefs RFC in England to take up a coaching role with the academy.
UAE vs Thailand, 18th May 2019
Tries: Ferguson (2), Natuna (2), Richards (2), Botes, Stevenson
Conversions: Stevenson (5)