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Gulf Rugby

Gulf Rugby Roundup

Heres our final Gulf Rugby Roundup of 2019 as we find out who will be heading into Christmas ‘Top of the Pops’ across all of the the domestic leagues.

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Abu Dhabi Saracens RFC

Team of the Week – Abu Dhabi Saracens 1st XV

Saracens 1st XV have had a fantastic lead up to the Christmas break with an unbeaten run of five wins from five in the Division One league. Following the disappointment of just missing out on qualifying for the 2018/19 Grand Finals, the Sarries boys have really set out a marker in the first half of this season, which should see them in good contention to make up for loosing out last season.

West Asia Premiership Rugby

West Asia Premiership

Sitting just out in front in the West Asia Premiership league are the Dubai Exiles. Last years finalists have also enjoyed the success of an unbeaten first half to their 2019/20 Gulf Rugby campaign. Exiles are the only team to have beaten Bahrain RFC who continue to chase close behind them with a two point deficit. Also looking comfortable to be in with a shot at the finals come the end of the season, are the Dubai Hurricanes, who have turned around their fortunes from last season where they finished second from bottom. The battle for that fourth spot is looking tasty though. Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Premiership newbies – Dubai Tigers, will be looking to make every single point count moving forward but there’s still plenty to play for, so we look forward to see how the second half of the season plays out.

UAE Division One Rugby

UAE Division One

As mentioned in our Team of the Week, Saracens will enjoy their Christmas break knowing that they have a 100% win record keeping them above Hurricanes 2nd XV with a five point cushion. Chasing a top four finish are the Exiles 2s and Sharjah Wanderers. Last year, Gulf Rugby Management disqualified the Exiles 2s due to them forfeiting four fixtures throughout the season so they’ll want to make amends this season and will be looking to be in contention for a top four finish.

UAE Division 2 Rugby

UAE Division Two

The Division Two league is going to be intriguing to watch once again this season. It’s a four horse race with Barrelhouse, RAK Rugby, Harlequins 3s and new comers, Muscat Rugby all with fifteen points at the half way point. Barrelhouse have inflicted some heavy defeats throughout the season which leaves them 70 clear on points difference ahead of RAK. There could be a real battle to see who finishes in the top two places to earn those teams a place in this season’s Grand Finals Day.

Gulf Rugby Womens Sevens Series

UAE Womens Sevens Series

We’re into the third season of competitive Womens rugby and we’re finally starting to see the gap close between two time winners, KnightsEagles (formerly the Eagles). The Dubai Hurricanes have knocked the KnightsEagles off their perch, currently sitting top of the table having won three of the four rounds played so far. The upcoming Dubai Rugby Sevens will prove interesting as we see if the KnightsEagles can make it a third Gulf Women’s rugby title in a row, having previously won under their old Eagles RFC badge.

So that’s about it for this half of the season. We now turn our attention to the Dubai 7s which will begin on the 5th December over at The Sevens Stadium.


gulf rugby summer transfer list 2019

Now that the dust has settled on the opening weekend of Gulf Rugby action, we can reflect on the summer transfers that have taken place between the clubs. Who’s been leaving and who’s been joining?

The Ins and Outs of Gulf Rugby Summer Transfer Window 2019

It’s been a clear win for Dubai Tigers this season as they scooped a total of 14 new signings to boost their club numbers, with the majority of those players coming from the newly merged KnightsEagles rugby club in Dubai. This will no doubt be off the back of the Tigers gaining promotion to Premiership rugby at the end of last season.

Here’s a breakdown of numbers from rugby clubs active in the summer transfer window;

Barrelhouse Rugby ClubBarrelhouse

Transferred In: 1
Transferred Out: 0

Jebel Ali Dragons Rugby ClubDragons

Transferred In: 5
Transferred Out: 1

Dubai Exiles Rugby ClubExiles

Transferred In: 2
Transferred Out: 4

Abu Dhabi Harlequins Rugby ClubHarlequins

Transferred In: 0
Transferred Out: 3

Dubai Hurricanes Rugby ClubHurricanes

Transferred In: 1
Transferred Out: 3


Transferred In: 1
Transferred Out: 16

Abu Dhabi Saracens Rugby ClubSaracens

Transferred In: 3
Transferred Out: 0

Dubai Tigers Rugby ClubTigers

Transferred In: 14
Transferred Out: 0

Full Summer Transfer List

There was a total of twenty seven senior rugby players transferring to new clubs during the summer window. This is a rise from last year’s transfer list which hit twenty five. This summer saw an extended window up until the 31st September In alphabetical order they are listed below:

  1. Emma Ash – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  2. Riaan Barnard – from Hurricanes to Barrelhouse
  3. Briana Billings – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  4. Fadi Diab – from Dragons to Tigers
  5. Jarrod Eglen – from Hurricanes to Exiles
  6. Robyn Etherington – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  7. David Gibson – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  8. Trae Gosling – from KnightsEagles to Dragons
  9. Petillat Gwennael – from Harlequins to Saracens
  10. Oliver Johnson – from KnightsEagles to Dragons
  11. Gareth Jones – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  12. Jason Kettle – from Hurricanes to KnightsEagles
  13. Eliabeth McGowen – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  14. Kau Milanez – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  15. Charlene Moore from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  16. Kini Natuna – from Harlequins to Exiles
  17. Adreanne Normandeau – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  18. Rebecca Octave – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  19. Daniel Owen – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  20. Reuben Potaka – from KnightsEagles to Tigers
  21. Allan Short – from KnightsEagles to Hurricanes
  22. Rikus Swart – from Harlequins to Saracens
  23. Edward Venter – from Exiles to Dragons
  24. Gareth Venter – from Exiles to Dragons
  25. Hendrik Venter – from Exiles to Dragons
  26. Johannes Watermayer – from Exiles to Saracens
  27. Nathen Wilson – from KnightsEagles to Tigers

Source: UAERF.

Local Rugby Clubs

Are you looking for a local rugby club to play for? We have a full list, including three of our Premium listed Rugby Clubs: Amblers, Barrelhouse and Saracens.

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


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

Peter Henderson - Director of Rugby at Abu Dhabi Saracens 2019

Saracens aim to kick off their 2019/20 campaign with a welcomed boost of new coaches, players and improved club facilities.

Following their refocused 2018/19 season, members within the walls of Abu Dhabi Saracens have seen the club move into the 2019/20 season well ahead of schedule. Director of Rugby and Head Coach, Peter Henderson has admitted its all been extremely positive.

He explains,

“When I took over the role two years ago, I was more or less thrown into it. That first year was about survival, I can’t deny it. We needed a change of direction with respect to how we did things, who we were and what we were about. That included some tough decisions, which resulted in a new four year plan. Firstly, to reduce to a single team and bring back our traditional rugby values. I was planning on growing the club back to two teams by the 2020/21 rugby season, but in light of the unprecedented influx of new players, as well new coaches, we are proud to be in a position to extend our club back to it’s original two teams earlier than planned.”

“Some days you’re the pigeon and others, you’re the statue.”

Last season, Saracens played in the UAE Conference League, now known as the UAE Division 1, winning eleven out of their thirteen games and narrowly missing out on a semi final place to Al Ain Amblers, who finished higher in the pool B group.

“It was a bitter pill to swallow. Some days you’re the pigeon and others, you’re the statue. The Dubai Tigers were worthy winners, as were all teams who went in to the final series. We have full respect for the competition structure and all of our opponents. This year is a different structure* and we’re expecting to deliver some exciting rugby to the competition. We’re incredibly proud to be able to field teams in both UAE Division 1 and UAE Division 2.”

Photo credit: Grant Winter

Reports show that numbers at training have continued to rise during pre season, which has led to the club’s decision to enter a second team into the lower Division 2 competition. When asked about the decision to enter a second side, new Chairman, Joe Cervantes said,

“With more than enough players for one team, I proposed to the committee that we simply cannot deny players who train and pay their subs the chance to play. Sarries exists to grow rugby in Abu Dhabi and the UAE in the style and traditions that only a rugby club can. We’ll always welcome players of any ability. Gulf Rugby Management have been very supportive as well and we’re proud of where we’ve come from these past few years.”

New coaching staff

Saracens welcome three new assistant coaches to their backroom staff for the 2019/20 season. Jason Brown from South Wales, who brings with him experience as a successful Head Coach of the Combined Services for the UK Military and other top level RAF and Military teams as both a player and coach. Steve Da Maré joins the club from Belgium where he played for the national team and later went on to coach at national level Colts and Ladies. Finally, Farrel Jacobs joins the coaching team as a retired Sarries first team player and now the club’s forwards coach.

saracens women's rugby

After finishing in the bottom half of the ladies rugby Sevens Series last year, the club will once again be entering a Ladies Team into this years’ competition. Coaches Luca Mene said,

“Our ladies team has a great mix of experienced players and newcomers – but it’s the atmosphere they bring to the club that’s what is really remarkable. We’re going from strength to strength again this year.”

Based at Al Ghazal Golf Club, Abu Dhabi Saracens train every Monday and Wednesday nights from 19:00 until 20:30. Al Ghazal has also undergone big improvements over the summer. The pitch has had all new lighting fixtures replaced and the rugby pitch levelled, ready for the start of the season.

Anyone interested in joining the club can do so by enquiring on their Saracens Rugby profile page.

*Gulf Rugby Management have dropped the split tables this season instead opting for a single league structure.

mens gulf rugby fixtures announced

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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.


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

gulf rugby roundup week 12

This week’s UAE Rugby action from across all three leagues.

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abu dhabi saracens rugby

Team of the Week – Abu Dhabi Saracens

It has been well documented that 2018 was a difficult year for a side which were West Asia Champions as recently as 2015. Results on the field saw demotion to the UAE Conference at the end of last season but struggles off it have really tested the resilience of the club. The early signs are that 2019 might see Sarries turn a corner in their rebuilding phase. They have gone three wins from three in January, conceding only 12 points in the process and two of those matches coming away from home. Locked in a battle with Al Ain Amblers to secure a playoff spot, they are building momentum at the right time of the season and bringing much needed confidence back to Al Ghazal.

dubai exiles vs hurricanes 2019

West Asia Premiership

Dubai Exiles were the big winners in this round of matches, claiming a hard fought local derby win at The Sevens over Dubai Hurricanes 32-27. That lifts them to third in the standings as they jostle for playoff spots along with Canes and Jebel Ali Dragons. Dragons themselves were edged out at home by Abu Dhabi Harlequins 29-25, a win which sees Quins all but guaranteed second spot with Bahrain clear at the top.


dubai tigers rugby uae


The game of the week in the Conference also came at The Sevens and it was another agonising defeat for the home club with Canes 2s edged out 46-44 in the last minute of a tumultuous free scoring contest with unbeaten Dubai Tigers 1s. The three top 1s sides all recorded wins over their Premiership second team opponents with Al Ain Amblers cantering past Quins 2s and Abu Dhabi Saracens travelling down to Jebel Ali and recording an impressive 27-5 away win. Conversely, amongst the sides towards the bottom of their respective groups, it was the second strings who claimed the points with DSC Eagles 2s and Dubai Exiles 2s claiming only their second and third wins of the campaign respectively.


rak rugby vs al ain amblers


Nearing the end of the regular season in the Community League and just two fixtures were completed this weekend. Dragons 3s maintained their unbeaten record in sweeping past Tigers 2s to keep up in the two horse race at the top with Barrelhouse. The mid-table clash between Amblers 2s and RAK Rugby went the way of the northern emirate side 36-19, a result which sees them climb back to what is almost now their customary third place in the standings.

Article by: Birthday Boy Huw Harrow

Jonathan Taylor Abu Dhabi Saracens rugby player

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.

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.

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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

Saracens withdraw from UAE Premiership

In a month that has already witnessed one casualty for the new 2018/19 rugby season with Beaver Nomads withdrawal from competitive rugby, it now appears that the Abu Dhabi Saracens rugby club will be withdrawing from Premiership rugby for the forthcoming UAE rugby season.

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.

Saracens launch pre season attackAbu 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:

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.

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Team of the Week – Abu Dhabi Saracens 1s

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.

hurricanes rfc vs exiles rfc

UAE Premiership

Away from the battle at the bottom there were impressive wins for Dubai Exiles 36-11 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.

rak rugby club

UAE Community

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.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Emirates UAE Rugby Roundup


UAE Rugby Roundup

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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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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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.

UAE Rugby’s Conference and Community leagues re-start next weekend, Friday January 15th.

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