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rak rugby club new pitch opening 2019

Photo Credit: David Learman

It’s been a long time in the making, but RAK Rugby club finally have a place they can call ‘Home’

Rak Rugby RFC have had their fair share of pitch space over the years. Up until 2017 they were the only Gulf rugby club who played their fixtures on the golden sands of Ras Al Khaimah, training at various locations around the region and playing mostly away fixtures. It was then in 2017 that they made a move to the Tower Links Golf Club where they were able to train on grass for the first time and have a base to build on their foundations as a club which has origins going back to1969, and typically played as an informal social side.

“It is the culmination of many months of hard work and we are proud of how far this club has come.”

Along their journey to where they are today in 2019, which is at a new location within Al Hamra golf club, they have great progress on and off the pitch and still have ambitious plans for Emirati, expatriate and youth rugby in the region.

new rugby pitch opens in ras al khaimah 2019

Photo Credit: Rak Rugby

A New Chapter in the Rak Rugby Story book

After securing a new partnership with Al Hamra golf club last season, Rak rugby saw their dreams of having their own pitch take a first step in becoming reality, as ground was broken and in July the bulldozers rolled in to begin work. Fast forward three months to this coming Friday 18th October and new Chairman Ryan Reaney will be welcoming His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah bin Humaid Al Qasimi, Chief of Ras Al Khaimah’s Rulers Court and RAK Rugby’s patron, to cut the ribbon on the finished rugby pitch and club facilities that Rak Rugby club can finally call ‘Home’. The full size pitch has been built in collaboration with Al Hamra, and comes with newly built changing facilities as well as access to Al Hamra’s hospitality within the golf clubhouse.

Club Chairman, Reaney, said;

“This Friday marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of our club and rugby in the Northern Emirate. It is the culmination of many months of hard work and we are proud of how far this club has come. Credit must be given to the members of the previous committee; Simon Williams, Eddie Presch, and Dave Learman, as well as current committee members Ken Neves and Galvin McKechnie who have laid the foundations of this project and without which we would not have achieved what we have today.”

“This initiative has only been possible due to the generosity of our sponsors, some of which have been with us for several years.”

“We have also been very lucky to have forged strong new relationships with local companies. Without their financial backing and the support none of this would have materialised. We may be a small club compared to some of our brother clubs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi but we have a tenacious spirit and are proud of our historical roots in Ras Al Khaimah.”

“This is reflected in the fact we have the support and generosity of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, who is an active supporter, and to the community at large. Our goal is to grow a love of rugby within our community and we urge everyone and anyone that would like to try the sport to join our men and ladies at training on Monday and Wednesday evenings.”

Rak Rugby Club will officially open their new rugby pitch and facilities in time for the senior men’s rugby match against Division 2 side Dubai Sharks on Friday. Before the kick-off, an opening ceremony will be performed by RAK Rugby’s patron, His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah bin Humaid Al Qasimi.

Your official guide to Gulf Rugby 2019

Here’s Your Official Guide To Gulf Rugby In 2019/20

As the 2019/20 Gulf Rugby season kicks off, we take a look ahead to whats in store for rugby fans and how all of the regional league competitions are shaping up. This summer has not been without changes though so read on to find out whats new…

west asia champions 2018-19

Premiership

Holders: Bahrain (West Asia) and Harlequins (UAE)

Format: A straight league set up with all sides playing each other home and away over fourteen rounds. The champions of the West Asia Premiership will be decided between the top two teams after all league rounds are complete. Likewise, the top two UAE based outfits (discarding results against Bahrain) will play on finals day for the right to be crowned UAE Premiership Champions.

Ins and Outs: This season we see Dubai Tigers enter the top tier of Gulf Rugby after a gaining promotion at the end of last season. We see a new team, who recently merged as the KnightsEagles hoping to compete with boosted numbers this year.

Premiership Teams

Bahrain, Dragons, Exiles, Harlequins, Hurricanes, KnightsEagles, Tigers

dubai tigers conference rugby champions 2018/19

Division 1

Holders: Dubai Tigers

Format: First-off, you will see we’ve had a name change. Previously known as the UAE Conference League, the second tier of Gulf Rugby will now be referred to as Division 1. The 2019/20 season will see nine rounds of rugby played and the top four finishing teams after the final round will go into a knockout semi-final playoff to determine who play in on Finals Day 2020.

Ins and Outs: The Sharjah Wanderers are back in the mix after a one year hiatus. As mentioned above, newly merged KnightsEagles will be fielding their 2nd XV to complete the ten Division 1 rugby teams in the UAE.

Division 1 Teams

Amblers, Dragons, Exiles, Harlequins, Hurricanes, KnightsEagles, Saracens, Sharks, Tigers, Wanderers

Dragons UAE Community Champions 2018/19

Division 2

Holders: Jebel Ali Dragons

Format: Again, another name change. You will see what was once the Community League, now referred to as Division 2. The 2019/20 season will also see nine rounds of rugby played but will culminate with the top two teams in the league table going on to Finals Day to see who will be crowned Champions of Division 2.

Ins and Outs: Huge news for Oman Rugby as we welcome Muscat RFC into the third tier of Gulf Rugby. It’s been a longtime coming and we wish them all the best in their inaugural season as they join the social rugby scene. Saracens will be fielding a 2nd XV this season as the benefit from a boost in numbers over the summer.

Division 2 Teams

Amblers, Barrelhouse, Dragons, Harlequins, KnightsEagles, Muscat, Rak, Saracens, Shaheen, Sharks

dubai eagles womens sevens rugby series champions 2018 19

Womens Sevens Series

Holders: Dubai Eagles

Format: The Womens Rugby Sevens Series is the top tier league of ladies rugby in the Emirates with nine rugby clubs participating in the league. There will be eight rounds of rugby hosted by each club throughout the season. The Dubai Tigers and Firebirds rugby clubs will host a joint round.

Womens Teams

Amblers, Firebirds, Hurricanes, Harlequins, KnightsEagles, Rak, Saracens, Tigers, Wanderers

mens gulf rugby fixtures announced

Jump Right In…

Mens 2019/20 Rugby Fixtures

It’s been a long hot summer for all rugby clubs this year as pre-season training comes to an end and the focus switches to the first round of Gulf Rugby.

Due to the season kicking off slightly later this season, we won’t see any action until the beginning of October, so each team will have a good few weeks of extra training under their belts before they begin their 2019/20 rugby campaign.

West Asia Premiership – Round 1 Preview

October the 4th will see the West Asia Premiership kick off with the newly merged Dubai KnightsEagles taking on the Dubai Hurricanes down at Dubai Sports City.

Newly promoted Dubai Tigers will be thrown straight into the deep end of West Asia rugby with their first league fixture against the 2018/19 Champions – Bahrain at Dubai College.

The final game of Round 1 sees a repeat of last years UAE Premiership final between Jebel Ali Dragons and Abu Dhabi Harlequins. The Quins will be looking to continue their good form, having only lost one game in the Premiership last season as they went on to win the league.

Dubai Exiles will have an extra week of prep time as they sit this round out with a bye.

UAE Division 1 – Round 1 Preview

Previously known as the UAE Conference League, the UAE Division 1 will also kick off on the 4th October.

The above mentioned merged KnightsEagles 2s will get things underway with their first match against last years’s finalists – Al Ain Amblers. Dragons 2s take on Harlequins 2s, Dubai Sharks face off against the Hurricanes 2s, Tigers 2s will play the Saracens and for the final fixture of Round 1 we welcome back the Sharjah Wanderers after a 1 year hiatus from domestic rugby, as they take on the Dubai Exiles 2s.

UAE Division 2 – Round 1 Preview

This year we also see a name change for the previously known UAE Community League, now called the UAE Division 2 which kicks off on the 4th October.

The Sharks 2s play Amblers 2s, Saracens 2s host RAK Rugby up in Abu Dhabi, Harlequins 3s take on current Community Final winners Dragons 3s, Shaheen face KnightsEagles 3s and we welcome for the first time Muscat Rugby Club as the play last years unbeaten league toppers, Barrelhouse.

We’re still five weeks out before the season officially kicks off, so expect some time changes to what is already pencilled in for the fixtures.

 

rak rugby chairman simon williams

RAK Rugby Chairman To Step Down

The Chairman of RAK Rugby, Simon Williams has announced he will step down from his role and a new Chairman and several new board members will be sworn in at the upcoming AGM for the club.

“Now comes the time for me to retire. I have thoroughly enjoyed the three years in charge and will take away many wonderful memories. I’m particularly proud of what we have achieved at the club, transitioning into a proper functioning business as we needed to, both legally and commercially.”

RAK Rugby Club have been through difficult times throughout Williams tenure at the club. In particular, the death of Nick Young had been a horrific time for all members of RAK Rugby and the wider rugby community. Such is the rallying spirit within the UAE rugby community though, Nick will be honoured forever with the Nick Young Trophy. Funds continue to be raised for Nick’s wife and boys who will be having a well deserved holiday with the recent funds raised.

his highness sheikh saud

 

Other notable changes made during Williams’ time in charge have been the name change from the RAK Goats to RAK Rugby and the set up of the club up under Royal Decree from His Highness Sheikh Saud, the ruler of Ras al Khaimah and getting his endorsement was a key moment in the club’s development.

At the beginning of the 2017/18 rugby season, the club moved to playing on to a grass pitch and the changes put in place attracted new coach Craig Chapman, as well as new players. This was reflected in wins at the Dubai Sevens, Barrelhouse 10’s, the inaugural Nick Young Trophy against the Knights RFC as well as finishing 4th in the UAE Community League 2017/18. The club also managed to introduce a women’s team under Williams as Chairman.

“The season before we’d been the whipping boys of the Community League and now we’re beating teams we’ve never beaten before and achieved respect across the leagues, resulting in the Yalla Rugby Club of the year award for 2017/18.”

RAK Rugby Cub Of The Year 2018

During the 2018/19 season, RAK Rugby continued their success with the Men’s rugby team hitting their highest league position of 3rd place and the vets team winning in the Dubai 7s. The Womens rugby team have developed further this year, winning the Cross Border Sevens Series C league tournament, several B league wins and finally cementing themselves in the A league as a force to be reckoned with for 2019/20.

Williams has highlighted some of his best memories throughout the three years as RAK Rugby Chairman:

simon williams

  • Playing away at Al Ain Amblers in the 2016/17 season and winning their first match with just 15 men (Williams getting the forwards Man of the Match award) and enjoying a now legendary bus journey home!
  • Coaching and developing two mini/junior rugby teams and seeing the kids and parents beaming with delight at our first match against the Dubai Hurricanes
  • Helping start the Women’s team and watching them play their first tournament when we only had 5 girls and they managed to win one game against 7!
  • Managing our Vets in the Dubai 7s 2018/19 tournament, where we won the bowl and a bunch of us old guys were all jumping around like kids at the final whistle!

“Of course, I couldn’t have enjoyed or done any of the above without a fantastic team of committee members, sponsors and volunteers around me. It truly has been an honour and privilege to be Chairman at RAK and I look forward to watching them play as a spectator in the new season.”

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.

rak rugby nick young annual golf day 2018

Nick Young Annual Golf Day

16th November 2018

Tower Links Golf Club, Ras Al Khaimah
Registration and payment open 11:00 / Shotgun start / T-Off from 12:30 onwards

AED 375 per person (cash only) including BBQ, beverages, prize giving ceremony and live entertainment until late.

For team reservations and further information call:
Simon Williams – 056 138 4379
Galvin McKechnie – 050 536 8676

Nick Young – Annual Golf Event to be held in his memory

As most of you know, during last season’s Sharjah 10’s tournament, RAK Rugby player Nick Young died playing a sport that he loved. Another sport Nick was an avid fan of was golf! RAK Rugby Club will be honouring Nick with an annual golf event held at Tower Links Golf Course in Ras Al Khaimah. RAK RFC are hoping to raise funds for Nick’s family back home in Australia as they couldn’t claim on his company insurance.

The annual golf event is also a chance for the rugby community and Nick’s friends to come together to remember a great man and have some fun in the name of a good cause. In addition to the golf, at the end of the rugby season there will be a Nick Young Trophy rugby fixture between the Arabian Knights and RAK Rugby Club, as Nick was playing in a combined Knights/RAK team at Sharjah when the fatal incident occurred.

The Golf Day event will be held at Tower Links on the 16th November 2018 and is open to anyone interested, with the aim to have 72 players and all their friends and family along to enjoy as well as raise some money (and a toast) to Nick.

Anyone interested please contact Galvin McKechnie on 050 536 8676 or mail to chairman@rakrugby.com.

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.”

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

RAK Rugby Club were presented with the Yalla Rugby Club Of The Year award, along with a hefty bar tab thanks to the McGettigans JBR management.

“We are thrilled to receive the inaugural Yalla Rugby Club of the year award”, said club Chairman Simon Williams. “It represents an incredible 12 months for the club that includes difficult decisions, mistakes we’ve learnt from, tragedy and success.”

Club Rugby
This season has seen the club move away from the sand pitch at Bin Majid Beach Resort to training at Tower Links Golf Club leaving the club effectively a nomad club for the 2017/18 rugby season. The move however, did attract experienced coach and former UAE International rugby player Craig Chapman which in-turn brought in more players to the club as previously the club found the sand pitch actively discouraged players with some turning up, taking one look at it and disappearing again.

Craig Chapman RAK rugby coach

With a formal training structure in place and pre-season strength and conditioning under Chapman, RAK Rugby slowly built up their squad. This was reflected in their results with the men’s team beating clubs that they previously wouldn’t have come close to beating in seasons gone by. Club giants such as Abu Dhabi Harlequins who consistently manage to field two teams in the UAE Community were both well beaten by them, being the only team in the league to do so.

RAK womens rugby team 2018

Womens Rugby
A RAK women’s rugby team also made an appearance for the first time this year as a core group of five ladies who had never picked up a rugby ball before, going on to win a group C tournament in the Cross Border Series. The ladies soon caught the eye of former England International – Jane Leonard, to a squad of twelve who have recently come back from a successful tour of Egypt.

mini youth rugby rak

Mini/Junior Rugby
Another step this season saw the club introduce a mini and junior rugby section. With small numbers training and playing, RAK didn’t enter any tournament’s choosing to focus on a series of friendly matches against the Hurricanes, Eagles and Dragons. This move proved to be a huge success for the club as they ended up winning their first ever match. Williams now looks to next season with the aim of entering a mini/junior team into the local competitions.

Dubai Rugby 7s & Barrelhouse 10s Success
Away from the leagues RAK Rugby have proved themselves as a competent social side with their social and vets side making respective plate finals at the Dubai Sevens with the social side going on to win. A 10s side also tasted success at this years Barrelhouse 10s tournament, winning the plate final against a strong Dubai Lankans side.

Off The Field
It’s been bittersweet with the loss of club friend and sponsor – Katherine Reed in January and the tragic loss of Nick Young at the Sharjah 10s tournament in April. This Friday (1st June) sees a memorial match against local club Arabian Knights to honour Nick as well as the inaugural Nick Young memorial golf tournament which will be held on the 7th September. The club is hoping this event will include every UAE rugby club and become a firm annual fixture.

Sheikh Abdullah RAK rugby UAE

“There’s masses still to do but we have a great committee and set of players and supporters behind us and we are looking forward to next season and beyond.”

A Royal Decree
Lots of work went on to build on the club this year, establishing a patron under Sheikh Abdullah bin Humaid Al Qasimi and a royal decree meaning they can officially attract sponsors. The club are excited to hopefully start the 2018/19 rugby season with a pristine grass pitch at their new home based out of Tower Links Golf Club.

Honouring A Fellow Rugby Player – A Charity Rugby Match Between Capital City Rivals

Local rugby club giants of Abu Dhabi, Saracens and Harlequins, have put rivalry aside to honour the memory of RAK Rugby club player Nick Young who tragically died earlier this month in a 10s tournament in Sharjah.

Young, passed away in hospital on Sunday, April 29, two days after being hurt while playing for RAK’s vets side at the famous tournament hosted by Sharjah Wanderers. Simon Williams, RAK Chairman announced the news of Nick’s passing on their website and social media on the Sunday evening.

To show the close bond within the UAE rugby community, both Abu Dhabi clubs will play a friendly game under the flood lights on Thursday, May 24th at Al Ghazal ground, home ground to Saracens. The game between Saracens Social XV and Harlequins Social XV will be kicking off at 19:30 and is free for all to attend.

The initiative came from Richard Croft, a man who has been around the local rugby scene for many years and with links to both Abu Dhabi clubs, having joined Saracens from neighbours Harlequins earlier this year. Richard has drawn on his contacts to best represent the Abu Dhabi rugby community in both social teams.

“We wanted to arrange it to show the depth of the game in the Capital, and honour Nick on behalf of UAE Rugby in general,” said Croft. “For us as a rugby community, to lose a fellow player, whether we knew him or not, is devastating and we wanted to put aside club rivalry and show support for Nick’s family from two of RAK’s friendly Community League rivals.”

Besides being competitive and friendly rivals, Saracens and Harlequins stand together for this fun and social game in honour of Nick and RAK Rugby Club.

“Without knowing Nick I’m sure this is what he too would have stood for as a player.” Added Croft.

Both clubs hope to honour that and extends an invitation to all rugby supporters in the region to experience Saracens and Harlequins combined hospitality at Al Ghazal for the game. All money raised will go to Nick Youngs family. Please show your support for local rugby and join us for this charity evening.

uae rugby club of the year 2018

 

Congratulations to RAK Rugby Club

After (many) votes were cast it looked like a close race between Dubai Tigers and RAK Rugby. In the end it was the RAK Rugby Club have been voted the first ever Yalla Rugby Club of the Year.

VOTING HAS NOW FINISHED

Congratulations to RAK Rugby Club.

 

Have Your Say – Yalla Rugby Club Of The Year

With the curtain coming down on another season of UAE rugby, all that remains is for you, our Yalla Rugby readers, to decide who should claim the inaugural Yalla Rugby UAE Club of the Year award.

We’ve whittled it down to four nominees based on performances across all levels of the game throughout the season – but your votes will decide the outcome. The winning club will receive the Yalla Rugby Club Of The Year Award and a Bar Tab of (AED 1000) thanks to the generous sponsorship of McGettigans Hilton JBR.

Here are the contenders. Once you’ve made your decision, head over to cast your vote here!

Dubai Eagles Rugby

Dubai Sports City Eagles

A debut season that has not been without its ups and downs for the Eagles but judged in context of a club that was formed just weeks before the start of this campaign you’d have to say it has been a very credible effort from the newcomers. They have already claimed two pieces of silverware in the women’s game with a dominant side sweeping all before them to claim the Gulf Womens Dubai 7s and Cross Border 7s series. Of the seven rounds held as part of that series, Eagles ladies won six. Whilst success for men’s sides might be more of a long term project, they have fielded two fully competitive sides in both the Community League and Premiership, finishing above the bottom in both competitions.

Dubai Exiles Rugby

Dubai Exiles

Having triumphed at arguably the season’s two biggest showpiece occasions this year, Exiles have to be part of this conversation. The manner in which both trophies were won will have been particularly satisfying, coming from behind to edge out a hotly fancied Jebel Ali Dragons side at the Dubai 7s and overcoming fierce rivals and reigning champions Abu Dhabi Harlequins in the UAE Premiership Final. With their 2s side also having a decent campaign in making the Conference semi-finals, the strength of Exiles’ player pool at the business end of the season was reflected by their leading representation in the UAE squad for the recent friendly win over Gibraltar.

RAK Rugby

RAK Rugby

Another club building for the future on an upward curve. RAK’s days as perennial strugglers in the Community League are long gone, they are now one of the strongest outfits in the division and were in contention for a place at finals day until the closing stages. Indeed they hold the distinction of being the only side to record a win over eventual Community League champions, Harlequins 3s. Improvement on the field is being coupled with rapid progress off it. Moves are in place to establish a permanent (grass pitch) home venue in RAK and the club fielded a women’s side for the very first time this year, competing in the Cross Border 7s Series.

Dubai Tigers Rugby

Dubai Tigers

Having claimed back to back Conference Bottom Half trophies in previous seasons, Tigers came in to this season determined to prove they could cut it at a higher level. An unbeaten run that stretched from November through to a nail-biting Conference Final win over Sharjah Wanderers well and truly underlined that status. This represents a significant step forward for a club only in its fifth year in existence and with a strong focus on its vibrant minis and junior sections. Tigers have also been competitive in the women’s game throughout the campaign, running the dominant Eagles close on a number of occasions.

 


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Action from all three leagues on a wet weekend in the Emirates

 

Jump right in…

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    Team of the Week – RAK Rugby

    A tough decision on team of the week with all matches going to form this weekend. We’ve gone for RAK Rugby in recognition of their clash with DSC Eagles 2s being the game of the round, RAK needing a late try to rally past Eagles on their home patch 29-32. A loud contingent of away supporters ensuring the occasion had something of a cup final atmosphere. While last week’s loss to Dragons 3s has likely knocked RAK out for contention for the actual Community league cup final, they have cemented a credible fourth place finish and have plenty of positives from this campaign to build on in to next season.

    West Asia Premiership

    Banana skins were successfully avoided by the title chasers this week. Abu Dhabi Harlequins put pay to city rivals Saracens in a one-sided contest at Zayed Sports City, while Jebel Ali Dragons were also emphatic in dispatching Dubai Hurricanes to keep pace in the Premiership and consolidate top spot in the West Asia Championship. The West Asia standings have seen the emergence of a ‘big four’ this year with Bahrain underlining their credentials by coming away from Sports City with an impressive 54-8 win over DSC Eagles. They, together with Exiles, Dragons and Harlequins will contest the playoffs while a hefty 18 point gap separates these four from Hurricanes in fifth.

    UAE Conference


    Several games fell victim to cancellations this week with Arabian Knights home fixture with Jebel Ali Dragons 2s in the bottom half, the only match to go ahead. Dragons emerged victorious but the hard fought 31-17 scoreline will offer the Knights some encouragement as they head in to their wooden spoon decider with Dubai Sharks.

    UAE Community

    RAK’s trip to Sports City was the only match of the round and in securing the points late on, they still stay in with an outside shot of making the final should sides above them suffer any upsets in the final round of fixtures. Bottom side Eagles 2s are surprisingly still yet to chalk up a win in the Community League. In six losses they have still managed to claim five bonus points which indicates that they have been lacking a bit of luck to turn performances in to results. They will have an opportunity to put this right next week away to Saracens 2s who sit just one place above them in the standings.

    Article by: Huw Harrow

    Rocktape
    Rocktape Barrelhouse 10’s Tournament

    For those of you still hungry for more rugby action this season, Barrelhouse Rugby Club (new additions to the Community League next season) are hosting their annual Rocktape Barrelhouse 10’s tournament on the 6th April 2018 at Dubai College, with both social and vets team entries still available.

    Get your team entered before the deadline date (March 24th) and join the Yalla Rugby Select squad pitch side for some mediocre banter and some festival style rugby!!!!

Sheikh Abdullah RAK rugby UAE


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Club has ambitious plans for Emirati, Expatriate and Youth teams

His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah bin Humaid Al Qasimi, Director of the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah’s Office, met today with representatives of Ras Al Khaimah Rugby Club to mark the beginning of his association with the club as its patron. In attendance were Simon Williams, chairman of the club, and its president, Ken Neves.

I am delighted to take on the role of RAK Rugby’s patron and I look forward to the club growing to its full potential in the coming years

HE Sheikh Abdullah commented, “I am delighted to take on the role of RAK Rugby’s patron and I look forward to the club growing to its full potential in the coming years. The re-formed club has exciting plans to engage both the Emirati and expatriate communities, and to play a full part in the Emirate’s social and cultural ecosystem.”

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RAK Club was originally formed in 1969, and typically played as an informal social side. But its days of having the only surviving sand pitch in the UAE may be numbered as the new regime has plans to upgrade to a grass facility. Training has already shifted to the Tower Links Golf Course. That step is only a small part of the club’s drive to the top.

According to Simon Williams, the club’s chairman, its new incarnation has ambitious programmes for this season that include the launch of an Emirati team to compete in the UAE Rugby Federation league, and a target for Ras Al Khaimah participation in the UAE Emirati rugby side, the Shaheen. “We will also have mini and youth teams as well as a women’s team and a resurgent senior men’s team,” said Williams, “so there is a lot we need to do to grow the club. Having His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah on board to guide us is an important moment in the next phase of the club’s development.”

RAK Rugby player Simon Williams


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RAK Rugby To Relocate From Sand Pitch

The very unique rugby club that is RAK Rugby, based in Ras Al Khaimah will be swapping the golden sands of the Northern Emirate, to green grass at their new HQ at Tower Links Golf Club.

RAK Rugby (previously known as RAK Goats) have played at the only purpose built sand rugby pitch in the UAE based at the Bin Majid Beach Resort.

Due to an increase in numbers they have taken the decision to up sticks and base their new premises at Tower Links Golf Club in the city centre of Ras Al Khaimah.

“Now we’ve changed the name to RAK Rugby it makes it really obvious who we are and what we do”

Simon Williams, RAK’s player-chairman believes they have outgrown the sand pitch they called home during their opening season in the UAE Community League.

Williams said, “We may still go back there and use it, and it was a great thing in terms of giving us a place in Ras Al Khaimah”.

“But we now have two mini rugby teams and the sand pitch has been a challenge to get interest for new players. Some were OK with it and stuck with it, the same with some of the senior players. Other rugby clubs love playing against us at home for that one off experience, finishing with a cold drink in the sea afterwards, because it is just great fun. When you’re training on it day in, day out, then it’s a different experience.”

Ras al Khaimah rugby UAE

There have been some big changes with the club over the pre season with local resident and former Dubai Hurricanes prop forward Craig Chapman coaching coaching the record numbers attending training sessions.

“Last year, if we got 15 players to training we were jumping for joy”, added Williams. “Now we’ve changed the name to RAK Rugby it makes it really obvious who we are and what we do”

The club will be hoping to have a rugby team of 40 strong before the start of the 2017/18 UAE rugby season, as numbers have seen a huge boost at training, with still more players due back from summer vacations.

We look forward to covering plenty of the RAK rugby games this season. Lets hope the grass really is greener on the other side for this popular local rugby club.

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