Dubai Tigers Rugby Club Tags


Knights Eagles record first premiership win 2020

It’s been a long old season for the KnightsEagles 1st XV, as they’ve faced some incredibly tough scorelines in their first season as a rebranded club. The last time some members of this team tasted victory was back in March 2018 when they were known as the Dubai Eagles . Even then, that was a rare sight, as they battled to come to terms with their first season of Premiership rugby as a newly formed club.

Skip forward to February 2020 and not much has changed for the Knights Eagles, having gone through the whole of the 2018/29 season and 2019/20 without a win…

Until now that is. Friday was the day that’s supposed to be filled full of hearts. That day was St. Valentines Day.

KnightsEagles Earn First Win Against Dubai Tigers

That’s certainly one thing that you cannot take away from the KnightsEagles Rugby Club. They have a lot of heart. A tight-knit group, that have turned up, week in – week out and left everything out on the playing field. Today’s victory might not count for much in the league tables, but it should instill belief in the club that they are not here just to make up the numbers.

They are still a very new club in comparison to the others in the league, but Friday’s fixture, hosted by the Dubai Tigers was a thriller of a game that could have quite easily gone either way. Both sides had been neck and neck until the KnightsEagles broke away in the last 15 minutes of the game with a late Dom Williams try which sealed the match 37-22.

Gulf Rugby News Round 3 scores
As we have a week off domestic rugby let’s recap with the latest from across all four divisions in Gulf Rugby as the season begins to take shape.

Jump Right In…

Team Of The Week – Dubai Tigers 1st XV

team of the week Dubai Tigers

Photo Credit: Alex Johnson

We’re only into round three but the Dubai Tigers are already causing upsets in the region. Last week they picked up their first win in the West Asia Premiership against a strong Dragons side who were looking to make amends for their first round drumming by Harlequins. Tigers lost their opening fixture against current West Asia Champions – Bahrain, but took Quins to the wire in Round 2 only to miss out on a win by two points. Their first three fixtures have all been against the top sides of the Gulf and have certainly shown that they are more than capable of playing Premiership rugby in the Middle East.

West Asia Premiership

Dubai Exiles 1st xv
Dubai Exiles celebrated their second win of the season against title holders Bahrain, in what was a repeat of twelve months ago in a similar victory at the Sevens Stadium, beating them 21-15. The Exiles are the only team to have beaten Bahrain, ending the #RedWall’s run of sixteen straight wins. Third round wins also came for Harlequins as they beat struggling KnightsEagles 55-19 down at Sports City and as already mentioned, The Tigers, a team gaining momentum, beating the Dragons 30-25 on home soil.

Division 1

Abu Dhabi Saracens RFC

Photo Credit: Chamara Senarath

Relishing their clubs revival in Division 1, the Abu Dhabi Saracens sit top of the table having comfortably beaten the Dragons 43-8. KnightsEagles 2nd XV tasted victory for the first time as they managed to beat Harlequins 26-12, seeing them share the middle of the league table with Al Ain Amblers. After a shaky start, it looks like the Wanderers are back to winning ways as they comfortably beat Tigers, lifting them to fourth place in the league. Hurricanes bagged their second win of the season, beating last years finalists Amblers over in the Garden City, 44-10. The Dubai Sharks are still to register a win in almost twelve months, but will settle for a well earned draw against the Exiles 2nd XV, 22-22.

Division 2

RAK Rugby

Photo Credit: David Learman

A team enjoying life at the moment are RAK Rugby, who have made it two from two, thumping the Sharks 56-5 at Al Hamra, their new home ground, which was officially opened by Sheikh Abdullah bin Humaid Al Qasimi before kick off. Continuing their successful start to life in Division 2, Muscat defeated last years champions Dragons 34-17, keeping them joint top on points with RAK. Barrelhouse notched a heavy scoreline against the Saracens, lifting them to third place in the league with an 81-0 scoreline. Amblers picked up an easy win against the Shaheen who forfeited their fixture and the KnightsEagles vs Harlequins game was postponed.

Womens Sevens Series

Saracens Ladies Rugby Team
Last weekend saw Round 2 of the Womens Sevens Series played out up in the Capital as it was successfully hosted by the Abu Dhabi Harlequins in Zayed Sports City. The Dubai KnightsEagles Ladies tasted victory for the first time this season as they look to make it a third season on the bounce as champions. Winners of the B League were the Abu Dhabi Saracens ladies team. Sarries ladies Captain  Michelle Moyles said:

“It was a really successful start to our season and a testament to all the hard work we’ve been doing at training. The support of our coaches and the men’s teams have all really helped build an encouraging and positive atmosphere at the club.”

Assistant head coach of Saracens ladies, Luca Mene praised the team, saying:

“The girls played amazing rugby, which was appreciated by everyone. I received congratulations from referees, other coaches, as well as many players from the other teams. Our squad was only created last year, the year before we had only four girls, and couldn’t make a team up. If we look back on our achievements, Friday was a great success. We won our first tournament and beat, for the first time, RAK Ladies RFC, which happens to be a very strong and experienced team.”

From a revolutionary standpoint, women’s rugby seems to be gaining more prominence now in the region, than ever before. We look forward to the next round which will be on the 1st November and hosted by the Abu Dhabi Saracens at Al Ghazal.

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.

Aaron Persico hits the ground running 2019Italian oversees difficult opening clash against defending West Asia champions Bahrain

Just as the final whistle was blowing on Italy’s Rugby World Cup loss to South Africa on Friday, one of their celebrated former players was running out on a school playing field in Dubai.

Only 26 players in history have played more Test matches for Italy than the 56 Aaron Persico racked up between 2000 and 2006. His career span included a trip to the 2003 World Cup in Australia. Five years after finishing his professional playing career in Italy, he was back in the ranks of Dubai Tigers, West Asia rugby’s newest top-flight team.

Persico is the Dubai Tigers coach, but filled the breach in the team’s second row as they made their first appearance in the region’s premier cross-border competition. They were handed the toughest start possible, facing the defending West Asia champions Bahrain. Despite the 39-5 defeat, the league new boys showed up well at Dubai College.

The New Zealand-born player-coach played all his international career, which included Test matches at Twickenham, Lansdowne Road, and Stade de France, as a flanker. Playing in the second row against Bahrain RFC was an unusual experience for him, but he was glad of the chance.

“I haven’t played there a lot, but knowing the profile of our team, it was about working out what was best for the team,” said Persico, who played three matches when the Tigers won the UAE Conference last season.

“We had a couple of personnel changes here and there. I had played at lock a little bit here and there, but my main position is flanker. I was happy to get in there. We were pretty happy with patches of the game. It was a step into the unknown for us, and we were playing Bahrain, who have a big reputation. That was exactly what we needed, to play the best, and we can just build upon that. There are things we could have done better, but there were plays that created opportunities, and we can build on that for the rest of the season.”

Earlier on Friday, Dubai Hurricanes got the new domestic season off to a flying start as they beat Dubai Knights Eagles 58-10 at The Sevens.

Saki Naisau scored a hat-trick of tries after being introduced as a second-half substitute, as part of an onslaught that saw the home side score 47 points after the break.

In a repeat of last year’s UAE Premiership final, defending domestic champions Abu Dhabi Harlequins laid down a marker with a 56-16 win away at Jebel Ali Dragons.

Read full article from The National.

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

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.


gulf rugby club of the year 2019

It’s been a long old season again with plenty of quality rugby played at all levels of the game from mini/junior and women’s rugby, right the way through to the senior men. We’ve now been in the ‘off season’ for just over a month and many of you are already climbing the wall with the rugby withdrawal symptoms.

Fear not, because before you all get stuck into pre-season training again, there’s still one final chapter of this season to be written for one rugby club. It’s time to decide who is the Yalla Rugby Club of the Year 2019. Last year RAK Rugby Club won the inaugural award after some fierce voting from fans from all parts the globe, (which managed to crash the Yalla website for a short while).

Jump right in:

So, about the award…

What is the Yalla Rugby Club of the Year award?

Within most rugby clubs there’s always end of season awards that are handed out, which is fantastic for players and members of the clubs. BUT, we like to celebrate Gulf Rugby as a whole with some of the most outstanding achievements to have taken place throughout the season. You – the readers and followers of Yalla Rugby, can vote for the rugby club that you think deserves to win this year.

How can a club be shortlisted?

We select four clubs from all areas of rugby which we feel have contributed and succeeded the most throughout the season and let you, the public decide who should win by casting your vote. Nominations are based on success at all levels of the game as well as contributions to the broader rugby community.

  • Mens Rugby
  • Womens Rugby
  • Mini/Junior Rugby
  • Community Involvement

The four nominees are then pitted against each other and put to a vote to see who is worthy winner of this prestigious award.

Who’s been nominated for the 2018/19 award?

The nominated rugby clubs are listed below. Commiserations to the rugby clubs that have not made this years nominations. It was a hard decision between a couple of other very worthy contenders. Voting is now open and will close at 22:00 on the 25th June 2019:

This poll has ended. To view the results click below

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

Tigers End Season With Huge Club Photo And Prize Giving

The Dubai Tigers Rugby Club officially closed their 2018/19 UAE Rugby campaign with a huge prize giving held at Dubai College. Over 600 players, parents and members were present at the event which saw prizes given out to all age groups of their club. It’s been the culmination of a huge season for the club which saw them lift the UAE Conference trophy for the second time in succession and earned them promotion to the UAE Premiership for next season.

Club Chairman Shane Thornton said;

“We had a fantastic prize giving this morning at Dubai college. We awarded players that have shown sportsmanship, improvement and players that are valuable to the team. We also acknowledged every Tiger’s player, girls and boys from under 4s upwards, that have given their all week in week out.”

Thornton went also paid tribute to the support that the club has had throughout the season saying;

“A big thank you to parents, coaches, managers, medics and our sponsors! We also said farewell to many players that have been with us for a few seasons that are leaving Dubai. What a year we had and we look forward to next season.”

tigers prize giving 2018 19

The Dubai Tigers RFC started life in 2013 with a small mini/junior section of only 40 players to now having over 300 playing members across its mini and youth, women’s & men’s senior rugby teams.

Next season the UAE Rugby Premiership will be boosted by the inclusion of the Dubai Tigers. This comes off the back of two consecutive Conference championship winning seasons for the ‘red and whites’ as they earn their place in the top tier of Gulf rugby.

In its short time of existence (founded in 2013), the Dubai Tigers Rugby Club has gone from strength to strength, starting with a small Junior rugby section of 40 players to today where it boasts over 300 playing members across its Junior, Women’s and Men’s senior squads. The Tigers once again confirmed their status as champions two weeks ago when they beat a spirited Al Ain Amblers side to lift the UAE Conference trophy after a dominant unbeaten 2018/19 rugby season.

shane thornton tigers chairman dubai

Club Chairman and founder, Shane Thornton said;

The promotion to the Premiership means a lot to our club. All players that have been with us for the past 5 years have got us to this point. We’re all really looking forward to the challenge ahead.

The Dubai Tigers will join current Premiership teams – Dragons, Eagles, Exiles, Harlequins and Hurricanes and will also see their 2nd XV team rise from the UAE Community league to the UAE Conference League.

dubai tigers conference rugby champions 2018/19

Tigers Crowned 2018/19 UAE Conference Champions

In what has been the culmination of an unbeaten season for the Dubai Tigers, they managed to sweep aside a spirited Al Ain Amblers team in this years UAE Conference Final to be crowned 2018/19 Champions for the second time in back to back seasons. It was this time last year that they won a dramatic Conference final with an extra time golden try against Sharjah Wanderers.

Amblers started strong but with relentless attacking force of the Tigers they couldn’t hold on to what had been in large a very close fought contest at the Sevens Stadium in Dubai.

Final score 37-21 to the Dubai Tigers.

Highlights of the UAE Conference Final 2018/19

You can watch highlights of the match by clicking the video above.

The domestic season draws to a close this weekend with the now traditional end of season UAE Finals day which will see champions crowned in both the UAE Premiership and Conference. The action takes place at The Sevens this year, having previously been held at Dubai Sports City with events getting underway with an exhibition Veterans match at 13:00. As ever Yalla Rugby will be your place to go for updates on the season’s climax, if we witness anything like the dramatic conclusion to the West Asia Premiership final out in Bahrain, UAE rugby fans will be in for a treat.

uae premiership rugby final 2019

UAE Premiership Final

UAE Premiership Final – Abu Dhabi Harlequins v Jebel Ali Dragons (KO 16:00)
Semi Finals:
Abu Dhabi Harlequins 43-27 Dubai Hurricanes;
Dubai Exiles 24-28 Jebel Ali Dragons

With this year’s West Asia Rugby crown having been claimed by Bahrain, for the big names of UAE Rugby, this year’s UAE Premiership carries extra significance as the remaining chance for major silverware. The Dragons sprang something of a surprise in seeing off Exiles, runners up in the West Asia Final to qualify for this showpiece against an Abu Dhabi side who finished 17pts clear at the top of the UAE regular season standings and must go in as favourites. The capital city outfit also won all three of the regular season meetings between the two, although there were only four points difference in the most recent clash at Jebel Ali. Having claimed a historic ‘quintuple’ of domestic trophies in 2017, Quins have surprisingly not won a major final since then, falling to lacklustre defeats at both this year’s Dubai Sevens and last year’s UAE Premiership. This weekend looks an opportunity to reclaim their position as the top side in the country but will be wary of a Dragons side who will relish the opportunity to express themselves on the big stage.

uae rugby conference final 2019

UAE Conference Final

UAE Conference Final – Dubai Tigers v Al Ain Amblers (KO: 14:00)
Semi Finals:
Dubai Tigers 57-17 Jebel Ali Dragons 2s,
Dubai Hurricanes 2s 22-31 Al Ain Amblers

Reigning champions Tigers have swept all before them this year and this final will not only put their Conference title, but also the prospect of an unbeaten season on the line. The last time Tigers failed to win a game in 80mins was indeed in last season’s final, where a draw with Sharjah Wanderers was settled by an extra time golden try. Can Al Ain push them all the way here? The formbook suggests that they have every chance. The most recent meeting between the sides went Tigers’ way by a narrow three point margin, and they have the confidence of coming through what were a series of cup-finals of their own just to qualify for the knockouts ahead of Abu Dhabi Saracens. Two straight hard fought wins over a strong Dubai Hurricanes 2s team will ensure they go in battle hardened and Tigers must be wary of complacency if they are to end what has been a remarkable season with the trophy they will feel they deserve.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Gulf Rugby Roundup

Our final roundup of 2018 as we find out who will be heading in to Christmas top of the tree in the Premiership and the Conference leagues

Jump right in…

Dubai Tigers

Team of the Week – Dubai Tigers 1s

A routine victory for the Tigers over an Arabian Knights outfit that are still looking for their first win this season would not normally attract our attention. But in defeating the Knights in the final round of games to be played in 2018, Tigers 1s have achieved the rare distinction of going a whole calendar year unbeaten. Their run stretches back to last season’s Conference title winning side and this form has carried across into this season as they sit comfortably top of their Conference Pool with 7 wins out of 7. The closest they have come to defeat was back in the Conference final with Sharjah Wanderers, which finished as a draw in normal time before Tigers snatched it in sudden death. A minor blemish on what is a significant milestone achievement.

harlequins vs hurricanes

West Asia Premiership

The weekend’s big clash came at The Sevens with an immediate rematch of the Dubai 7s final between Dubai Hurricanes and Abu Dhabi Harlequins. This time it was the away side who gained revenge for their 7s loss with a bonus point 43-21 win. That keeps Quins hot on the tails of Bahrain who dispatched Jebel Ali Dragons and go into the new year with a four point lead at the top. Dubai Exiles ran out victors at the end of a thriller over DSC Eagles, with their city rivals leading 20-12 at halftime and almost snatching the victory in the last play of the game with a try in the corner only for a foot in touch leaving them with the consolation of a credible losing bonus point and a final score of 23-29.

The title race at the top now looking clear as a 14 point gap having opened up between third place Exiles and Quins in second spot, all signs point towards January 18th’s crunch fixture at Zayed Sports City between Harlequins and Bahrain acting as this year’s title decider.


saracens rugby players abu dhabi


With Tigers running away with the lead in their pool, Abu Dhabi Saracens kept themselves in touch with Al Ain Amblers in the battle for the second qualification spot thanks to a decisive 57-10 away win over Dubai Sharks. Hurricanes 2s will be the happiest of the sides in the other pool, as they leapfrog Dragons 2s courtesy of a 20-7 triumph at home to Quins 2s. Both Dragons and Hurricanes have opened up a cushion in the top two places with Quins slipping away and Exiles 2s earning only their second win of the season over fellow back marker Eagles 2s.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Jamie Clarke Dubai tigers

Dubai Tigers Flanker Jamie Clarke has a quick Choosday Chat


Age: 33
Born: Palmerston North, New Zealand
Club: Dubai Tigers
Position: Flanker
Height: 180cm
Weight: 88kg

“I saw his wallet for the first time at the weekend, but only because his subs were due”

Do you have any nicknames?

It’s boring really, I just get JC, Clarkey or J.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of spare time. If I do and there are some waves in Dubai I’ll be out on the water, other than that I like to get outdoors as much as I can. I do try and get out of Dubai and travel as much as possible though.

Do you have any phobias?

Yeah, I hate snakes.

What do you miss most about New Zealand?

The outdoors along with the surf, the Kiwi food, the beer and of course, my family.

Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?

Probably Richard Branson, at least I could learn a thing or two whilst I was in there!

Who or what inspired you to play rugby?

It’s a way of life back home in NZ. Most New Zealanders play rugby, it’s part of our culture and life growing up!

If you could be one of your team-mates, who would it be?

None of them because they are all pests…. haha Mandy Garry he’s got the best tan in the team!

Who has the worst Dress sense?

It would have to be Fitzy, because most of the time he doesn’t have any clothes on.

Who’s the tightest?

Noel, aka Leon Dashwood. I saw his wallet for the first time at the weekend, but only because his subs were due in at The Tigers!

How’s life in Dubai?

I can’t complain about life in Dubai, it’s been 12 years in the Middle East so pretty settled here right now and I recon I’ll be around the UAE for a bit longer!

What was the last brunch you went on?

Oktoberfest down at the Hyatt. A decent set up there.

Do you have any hidden talents?

Non that the general public need to know about!

What are the best things about Tigers?

It’s a great club, and an environment where rugby is the reason we show up week in week out, but there is also an understanding that family and work come first because that’s why people are here and it seems to be working well for us.

Who do you listen to to get pumped for a match?

Not much of a music man pre match to be fair, if it all, I’ll blast some sounds from back home, Six60, Fiji, Herbs, Katchafire.

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

Dubai Tigers 25-20 Sharjah Wanderers (AET)

In a meeting of one of the UAE’s newest clubs and one with 40 years of history, it was the Dubai Tigers in just their fifth year in existence who claimed their first major XVs honours after a thrilling extra time win. Having held on to a slender 20-17 advantage for much of the second period in the face of a feocious Sharjah onslaught, the game was sent to extra time by a late Ryan Flaherty penalty. With the game to be settled by a first score wins ‘golden point’ rule, Flaherty then had the first chance to settle the outcome in extra time but on this occasion his attempt drifted wide.

The end when it did come was somewhat out of the blue, an innocuous looking punt downfield was allowed to bounce by the covering Sharjah Wanderers players, pivoting wickedly in to the arms of an onrushing Joe Barratt. In the melee that ensued, Pete Kelly’s outstretched arm was able to ground the ball, sending Tigers players into delirium.

Played out on a day where the mercury topped 33c at Sports City, the game was characterised by a contrast in styles between the Wanderers whose gameplan was built around set piece ascendency and a Tigers side who looked more threatening in broken field play with Liam Caldwell and Brian Odonga combining in the wide channels. Sharjah’s scrum dominance, anchored by David Lee and Garry Hanley, could well have been the decisive factor on another day, with a series of splintering drives early in the second half yielding a succession of penalties, two Tigers yellow cards and a penalty try to level the game at 17-17. It is a testament to the character of a Tigers side who had not tasted defeat since playing away to Sharjah back in November, that they were able to win the ensuing period where they were down to 13 men 3-0 curtesy of a Jack Simmons nudge set up by a 30 yard trundle from Gary Saitola. A series of Sharjah attacks could amount to nothing more than three points, their most fluent move seeing Fabrizio D’Amico held up over the line, with each turnover being cheered as if it were a try by a vocal Tigers supporting contingent.

There had been little to split the teams throughout the contest, two early scores cancelling each other out, Sharjah going ahead after an opportunistic grubber kick off the back of a scrum again the head catching Tigers unawares and allowing Mike Gormley to slide in. That lead was soon cancelled out by a score from Mark O’Donnell after a trademark powerful charge by loose-head Azmat Niazi whose early departure due to injury looked to have an influence on the one sided nature of the scrum contest. The two sides then traded penalties before a piece of individual brilliance from Shane Gibbons sent Tigers into the lead at half time, the fullback gathering his own chip kick ahead to score. Crucially given what was to follow captain Caldwell’s conversion deflected in after striking the left upright.

Dubai Tigers: Azmat Niazi, Matt Rawlinson, Leon Dashwood, Mark Odnell, Chris Sumner-Smith, Aaron Persico, Jamie Clark, Gary Saitola, Jon Poide, Callam Handford, Kenny Munier, Pete Kelly, Liam Caldwell, Brian Odonga, Shane Gibbons
Substitutes: Barry Lyon, Aaron Temple, Bernard Tsabang, Nenad Grbic, Sam Cross, Henry Frost, Joe Barratt, Jack Simmons

Sharjah Wanderers: David Lee, Darren Bowle, Garry Hanley, Tim Shepherd, Reuben Potaka, Gethyn Bugler, Patrick Barcoe, Isaac Porter, David Ermerins, Barry Enright, Shane Fowley, Nathan Wilson, Mike Gormley, Ryan Flaherty, Fabrizio D’Amico
Substitutes: Ante Bulat, Liam Bruce, Hugh Griesto, Dana van Wyck, Luke Banks, Shane Breen, Eoin Brenan, James Walsh

uae rugby round up

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Our final weekly round up of the season ahead as league action comes to a close


Jump right in…

Team of the Week – Dubai Tigers

Dubai Tigers Team Of The Week

On a weekend where two West Asia Premiership Finals took place it would take a sensational result for a team outside those games to claim team of the week, but in dismantling Conference holders Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2s 73-0, that is exactly what Dubai Tigers produced. While Tigers went into this game as the form side in the division, having been unbeaten in the Top 5 playoffs, they had only weeks ago been held 20-20 by this same opposition. Harlequins may have been short of a number of regular players towards the end of this season, but the capital club have unrivalled strength in depth and rarely field an uncompetitive side at any level. So the manner of this victory will have Tigers installed as favourites come Finals day as they await the victors of Sharjah Wanderers vs Dubai Exiles 2s in the second semi final.

West Asia Premiership

With both semi finalists having produced an upset by winning away from home, Bahrain as the third ranked side, hosted this year’s West Asia Cup final with Dubai Exiles. Bahrain eventually ran out 47-25 winners in a contest played out in front of a bumper four figure attendance and many more watching online via a live stream curtesy of the Exiles media team (who gave us a great shoutout – Thanks Marc!!). They’re a team well deserved of a piece of silverware at the end of what has been a strong season for the ‘Red Wall’.

Things went to form in the West Asia Trophy where Dubai Hurricanes rounded off a disappointing campaign with a consolation trophy, seeing off Dubai Eagles 31-22. Despite Hurricanes taking home the Trophy title, Eagles will have taken plenty from this performance, and will believe that the gap between themselves and their city rivals is within touching distance at the end of their debut campaign.


dragons vs sharks

Aside from Tigers semi final win, Jebel Ali Dragons 2s warmed up for their bottom four final clash with Al Ain Amblers by brushing past bottom side Dubai Sharks 54-7.


dragons vs harlequins

Both scheduled fixtures were forfeited this week, meaning that Abu Dhabi Harlequins 3s qualify for the final where they’ll face Jebel Ali Dragons 3s in a repeat of last year’s fixture, just edging out the Beaver Nomads for a place in this years final.

Article by: Huw Harrow

Dubai Tigers are Yalla Rugby team of the week

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We bring you all of this weekend’s UAE Rugby action and we name Yalla Rugby’s team of the week.

Team of the Week – Dubai Tigers

We go in to the Conference again for our team of the week, with Dubai Tigers taking the accolade after recording a third straight win. The Sevens has been a particularly happy hunting ground for the Tigers in recent weeks with back-to-back away wins and if the 8-7 victory over Exiles 2s could have gone away this weekend’s 45-10 triumph over Hurricanes 2s was comprehensive. The performance is particularly notable, coming as it did against a Hurricanes side high on confidence after putting 100+ points on the board across their previous two games. Having finishing last season on a high by winning the bottom half, Tigers have clearly carried this momentum into the new campaign and sit third in the table just a point behind Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2s.

jebel ali dragons rugby


A Dubai derby double bill at the Sevens this weekend saw wins for Jebel Ali Dragons and Dubai Hurricanes. The Dragons edged out Exiles 23-18 in a close fought contest, while the Hurricanes 28-12 win over the Eagles indicates that the newcomers are already quickly getting up to speed with life in the Premiership.

Sharjah Wanderers rugby


The competitive nature of this year’s Conference is demonstrated by the fact only one side boast an unbeaten record at this early point in the season. Sharjah Wanderers maintained their 100% record with a 40-5 win over Arabian Knights, who remain without a point, but have to settle for second in the standings behind Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2s who themselves enjoyed a convincing 43-9 win over Jebel Ali Dragons 2s. Our team of the week Dubai Tigers are on a three game winning streak and up to third off the back of an impressive 45-10 win over Hurricanes 2s while Al Ain Amblers broke their duck for the season, in a characteristically high scoring affair 54-15 over Dubai Sharks.

Article By: Huw Harrow

Wanderers vs Dragons UAE Conference league 2017

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Whats New With The UAE Conference League?

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

amblers harlequins conference rugby final 2017

Will the Al Ain resurgence continue?

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

sharks tigers conference uae rugby final 2017

Can anyone gate crash the top half?

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

Article by: Huw Harrow

uae rugby grand finals 2016 17

Inaugural UAE Rugby Grand Finals Day to be played On Friday April 7th

UAE Rugby will host their inaugural Grand Finals Day on Friday, April 7th, at Dubai Sports City’s Rugby Park in Dubai.

In a first for the Federation, the UAERF Grand Finals are the culmination of UAE Rugby’s Community, Conference and Premiership league fixtures played over the 2016/2017 rugby season.

“We are extremely pleased to bring the inaugural UAE Rugby Grand Finals Day to our rugby-loving community. Each year we are thrilled with the level of rugby we witness across our domestic league, and the finals have always drawn enthusiastic supporters. We are confident that bringing all three leagues together into one day will enhance the excitement and raise the profile of the league’s top-ranked teams.” said Qais Al Dhalai, UAE Rugby Secretary General.

Finals games kick off at 1pm with Abu Dhabi Harlequins competing against Jebel Ali Dragons in the third-tier Community League, followed at 3pm with two deciding games from the second-tier Conference League; Bottom 5 between Heartbeat Tigers and Dubai Sharks and Top 6 between Al Ain Amblers and Abu Dhabi Harlequins. At 5pm, the Federation’s elite Premiership League will play-out between Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Jebel Ali Dragons.

Alongside this rugby-fest will be mouth-watering food and beverage options as well as fantastic giveaways and prizes. Entry to join in the Finals Day fun, and watch quality domestic rugby, is free.

Why not re-live all of the 2016/17 UAE Rugby season by viewing our Match Day Photo Gallery.

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