We have a quick Choosday Chat with Abu Dhabi Saracens Flanker and club captain, Jonathan Taylor
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?
Do you have any phobias?
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
https://www.yallarugby.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/gulf-rugby-season-preview-2018.jpg400600Yalla Rugbyhttps://www.yallarugby.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/yalla-rugby-dubai-uae-2019.pngYalla Rugby2018-09-19 17:46:132018-10-02 10:20:34Your Gulf Rugby 2018/19 Season Preview
After what looked like a promising pre season start to their 2018/19 rugby campaign, the Abu Dhabi based club will only field one team this coming season. The 2014/15 Gulf Champions will only be entering this years’ UAE Expat Conference League citing the current economic climate within the UAE and a drop in player numbers as a deciding factor. In a statement received from the Saracens, the Committee have decided to endorse a plan to continue rebuilding their foundations. This plan revolves around providing the best opportunities for the players to enjoy their rugby, to still compete at a good level and see more successes from their hard work.
“It serves us no long term gain to extend beyond the absolute limits of our means.”
Director of Rugby Peter Henderson stated at the committee meeting, “While we launched an unprecedented pre-season campaign for the players’ strength and conditioning as well as a media campaign, we must not lose sight of our goals as a rugby club and the values we believe in. It serves us no long term gain to extend beyond the absolute limits of our means. The stresses to the players who would be required to step up a grade should injury or unavailability of other players dictate, as well as the financial cost to the club to travel to the West Asia rugby matches needed to be considered. Entering one team into the Conference League offers us unprecedented depth in our ranks, does not extend our Club finances beyond our means, and gives the players real expectations of success on the pitch. We need to be responsible, realistic and maintain the passion every Sarries player and supporter deserves.”
“We are revitalised as never before”
“We are revitalised as never before”, added Director of Rugby Peter Henderson. “The knocks have not stopped coming this season either. The club and committee has been pushed already these recent weeks but we’ve pulled through and as united as ever. Rugby Clubs exist for Rugby Players. It is the players who Saracens will always support to the best of our ability and do whatever we can to give them the opportunity for success on and off the pitch”.
As well as Senior Mens rugby, Saracens have a growing and strengthening Ladies rugby team. In the regular season they train every Monday and Wednesday nights from 19:00 until 20:30. Any interested players or social members can contact the Saracens for more information.
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Abu Dhabi Saracens Rugby Club have gone on the offensive leading into the 2018-19 UAE rugby season
Internally, Saracens announced their 2018/19 campaign plans last week to their club players and members. Last season’s UAE Premiership bottom place finishers will be holding a ‘no-nonsense’ player meeting behind closed doors on 20th June, followed by the launch of their pre season training campaign the following day on their home turf at Al Ghazal Golf Club, Abu Dhabi.
“This season our players will know that the gloves are off”
Head Coach Peter Henderson explains, “Last season I was thrust into the position of Head Coach. I didn’t have the time nor the resources that was needed and it showed. This season our players will know that the gloves are off. I know what is required to play and win at this level and last year we missed the mark.”
Last season, Sarries saw an exodus of all but a few of their 1st team due to player dissatisfaction of the previous era. The results weren’t what they would have liked but as Chairman Jakes Basson says,
“We didn’t give up. Sure, we had many set backs, almost on a daily basis, but we didn’t give up and we finished the season. We have now set in motion a new club culture and values that we will not compromise on.”
The club have been bolstered this year with several new signings that they hope will strengthen the club’s depth and talent. On player recruitment, Henderson commented, “To be honest we have an open door policy both in terms of recruitment and selection. No favourites, not ever. As a player I’ve been at the wrong end of a coach’s inner circle and also been inside it. So I refuse to let that happen. We offer the chance to every player to play top level rugby if that is their goal.”
Saracens will enter teams into the Premiership and the second tier Conference League in the new season, a change from last season where their second team (internally known as the “OGs” or “Other Guys”) played in the third tier Community, finishing second from bottom in the league standings. The club took the decision to enter their 2nd team into the Community League at the beginning of the 2017/18 season as they felt they needed to restructure and rebuild whilst also providing an avenue for the more social players to continue to play. With numbers growing, and a revitalised culture and belief from their committee and coaching staff the OG’s will now play at a higher standard where they hope to improve player depth and to narrow the gap between Premiership and the Conference league again.
As well as senior mens teams, Saracens have a growing ladies rugby team and are looking to relaunch their mini/junior rugby program aimed at children of all ages. Being located so close to a major expat area (Al Raha Beach), the club hopes to offer the enjoyment of being part of a rugby club in Abu Dhabi to everyone. With a licensed premises, the club can offer beverages and the odd BBQ or Braai right on the touchline, something extremely unique to match days and events.
Abu Dhabi Saracens Rugby home ground is at Al Ghazal Golf Club. In the regular season they train every Monday and Wednesday nights from 19:00 until 20:30. Interested players or social members should visit our Sarries club page by clicking here:
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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.
RAK Rugby’s thoughts and prayers are with Nick Young’s friends and family today as he is laid to rest in Australia. RIP Nick. pic.twitter.com/SbSHlKMY5J
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.
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It takes a lot of guts and spirit to keep turning up week after week when results have not gone your way. Couple that with a distracting off-field situation and your city rivals enjoying unparalleled success and strength in depth and a lesser bunch than Abu Dhabi Saracens would have long since thrown in the towel. Both they and DSC Eagles will have been targeting last weekend’s gulf rugby fixture since the new year and it was always likely to be a tight affair. Saracens getting over the line 14-10 to record their first win of the season, makes them our team of the week.
Away from the battle at the bottom there were impressive wins for Dubai Exiles36-11 over the Hurricanes and for Abu Dhabi Harlequins for whom normal service was resumed in a 27-5 victory in their West Asia Gulf Rugby fixture with Bahrain. That result lifts Quins back on top of the West Asia standings by points difference but they sit third in the UAE standings behind both Exiles and Jebel Ali Dragons. This weekend’s clash of the top two at Jebel Ali could have a significant bearing on who contests the end of season UAE final. With Exiles currently having played a game more than their near rivals you sense that for them in particular getting a result will be an enormous boost. The sub-plot to the fixture is of course the chance for Dragons to gain revenge for their heartbreak at the Dubai 7s where Exiles came from behind to deny them the Gulf Mens League crown. Be sure to check out the great LIVE Rugby coverage that the Exiles are now introducing as they look to repeat last weeks popular broadcast again up at Jebel Ali, curtesy of Mark Why.
It was not such good news for Saracens in the Community League where their 2s side were forced to forfeit their match with Arabian Knights 2s, a similar fate befalling the Shaheen who had been due to take on the Sharks 2s. In the three fixtures which did take place there was something of an upset out in RAK as Dubai Hurricanes 3s claimed their first win of the season, 22-19 over a RAK Rugby outfit who are contending at the top of the table this year. The Canes perhaps benefitting in terms of squad depth with the Conference league enjoying a bye week. It was also tight between Harlequins 3s and Beaver Nomads, Quins edging home 13-10. The defeat for Nomads leaves Jebel Ali Dragons 3s as the only side left undefeated in the whole of UAE rugby this season. There was also a good win away from home for Al Ain Amblers 2s, but they look to be too far behind the top contenders to mount a challenge for a place in the final.
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All three UAE rugby leagues are now into their regular season once again with both the Premiership and the Community tournaments back on the pitch.
Starting with the West Asia Premiership, the Saracens kicked off their season with a 20-0 win against the Amblers due to the match being ruled as a forfeit by the Amblers breaching UAERF Competition Regulations. Jayden Bell and Sunia Laladidi were both not eligible to play during this match. As stated in UAERF Regulation 19 – all fully completed dispensation forms must be submitted 15 days prior to the scheduled fixture. The Amblers will hope that the penalty point received doesn’t come back to haunt them near the end of the season.
The other match was an exciting 35-13 win for the Harlequins 1st XV against the Hurricanes 1st XV. The Quins really put their hand up as genuine title contenders against a strong Canes side.
In the UAE Conference league the Wanderers 1st XV secured a hard fought 23-14 win against a determined Heartbeat Tigers 1st XV side. They can take great pride in pushing the defending champions hard, finishing just 9 points behind. The Dubai Sharks 1st XV produced a gutsy performance, beating a battling Wasps 1st XV team by a solitary point 14-13 with the Sharks putting everything they had into the match and leaving nothing on the pitch at the sound of the final whistle.
Harlequins 2nd XV eased to an impressive 57-10 win against a struggling Amblers 2nd XV side. The Hurricanes 2nd XV suffered a disappointing 7-36 loss against an extremely impressive Dragons 2nd XV outfit, having finished one place above the Dragons last season, the Hurricanes will be disappointed with the heavy loss. The final match of the Conference was a dominating 59-0 win to the Exiles 2nd XV against the Saracens 2nd XV, the biggest scoring margin of the round leaves the Saracens with a lot to work on before the next round of UAE rugby.
The Community league kicked off with a Thursday night match for the defending champions – Beaver Nomads 1st XV against the Sharks 2nd XV. A physical encounter ended with the Nomads running out as 48-12 winners. The Amblers 3rd XV entertained the Harlequins 3rd XV on Friday with the Quins producing a fine performance to win 43-22.
Shaheen 1st XV produced the performance of the Community league by beating the Sharks 3rd XV 34-5. With just one season of 15s rugby union under their belt it shows that Shaheen have serious potential under head coach Apollo Perelini and will only get better as the season goes on. The final match of the Community league saw the RAK Rocks 1st XV entertain the Dragons 3rd XV in the “sandbox”, the name given to the Rocks newly refurbished all sand pitch. An extremely tiring game was won by the impressive Dragons unit 61-12.
A look ahead to the next round
There will be some great rugby on offer this coming weekend in the West Asia Premiership and Conference.
The match to watch in the WA Premiership has to be the defending champions, the Exiles 1st XV taking on the Harlequins 1st XV, who produced a fine performance last week.
In the Conference the Dubai Wasps will be looking to bounce back from their loss in round 2 and hopefully come away with a win against current champions Sharjah Wanderers 1st XV, to get their season back on track.
The Community league have a weekend off before returning to action on the 7th of October.
By Tom Davies
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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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We kick off 2016 with the West Asia Championship this Friday, January 8th, with 3 thrilling encounters to be played in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Friday’s first game will see Al Ain Amblers play Doha at Al Ain Amblers home ground at 3pm, in the second game Dubai Exiles take on Muscat at Dubai’s Sevens Stadium at 3.30pm, and the final game of the day will see the Abu Dhabi Saracens against Bahrain at the Al Ghazal ground – 5pm.
The West Asia Championship consists of the top 9 teams from across the GCC and will be played through to mid-March 2016. The top 9 teams, competing in the championship are; Al Ain Amblers, Abu Dhabi Harlequins, Abu Dhabi Saracens, Dubai Exiles, Dubai Hurricanes, Jebel Ali Dragons, Doha, Bahrain and Muscat.