Amendments to the rules governing player transfers between rugby clubs in the UAE have been met with a mixed reaction by clubs.
The UAE Rugby Federation altered the rules following recommendations based on end-of-season meetings held with clubs at the end of the 2017/18 campaign, which took place on April 21.
The UAE RF introduced the Rugby Player Transfer Window two years ago, giving players two opportunities per season to switch clubs – between August 1 and 15 and December 20 to January 5.
Prior to that, players were only allowed to transfer between clubs once the season had ended.
The amendments to the laws state has seen the summer transfer window lengthened to run from between June 1 to July 31, while the winter window remains the same.
“We welcome the transfer window, this allows clubs to recruit players in a fair and transparent manner,” said Richard Croft, vice chairman at Sarries.
“Additionally it allows players to consider their own rugby goals, moving, where needed, to clubs that allow them to realise their full potential.”
Exiles chairman Mike Wolff added: “I’m all in favor. It gives senior players the chance to explore alternatives but gives coaches the assurances they seek to know who they have got to work with before the real graft in August kicks off.
“Otherwise a player can do pre-season with a club (which costs clubs money), learn some critical intelligence regarding how a club is seeking to play, and then he leaves for somewhere else for whatever reason. That’s not fair or right.”
But even though there are benefits, Dubai Eagles fly-half and director of rugby Sean Carey feels it doesn’t necessarily work well for players, especially the large community of teachers in the Emirates.
“I can understand why it was introduced, it has its benefits for the clubs, who can organise pre-season and know who is committed for the season ahead,” said the Irishman.
“It doesn’t help the players, who could end up being second or third choice and not be able to move before the season starts.
“It also doesn’t help teachers or those who come back to the UAE at the end of August; they have to make their mind up before seeing any coaching set-up or competition.”
Those players wishing to transfer must supply a letter of no objection from their current club, fill in a Player Transfer Application Form and address it to the UAE RF Secretary General, Qais Al Dhalai, to be able to begin their transfer request.
The UAE RF regulations will be amended accordingly and any transfer requests outside of these windows will not be considered.
Mike Brown will feed off Owen Farrell’s aggression at Ellis Park after insisting that his captain’s deeds rather than words will inspire England against South Africa.
Farrell is skipper for the three-Test series against the Springboks which opens in Johannesburg on Saturday knowing that the post could be available for the 2019 World Cup given Dylan Hartley’s ongoing concussion problems.
The Saracens playmaker has long been viewed as Hartley’s natural successor and Brown appreciates a “special” team-mate who is carved out of his own confrontational image.
“Owen is a great leader. He energises the group through the way he trains and the way he drags people along with him, his physicality and his standards,” Brown said.
“I’ve played alongside him for a number of years now, so I’ve known him a long time and I’ve seen how he has progressed as a person and as a player.
“I love his aggression and his physicality. I can feed off someone like that. He never takes a backward step and always leads from the front. That’s the sign of a great leader.
“If I see my captain standing on the front line and leading from the front in terms of their physicality, energy and their standards, that is enough for me.
“But obviously he will be doing a lot of the talking as well.”
Brown played under Farrell’s father Andy when the former Great Britain Rugby league skipper was England’s defence coach from 2012 to 2015.
“I think we’ve all been super impressed with how Owen’s adapted to the captaincy.”@mikebrown_15 backs @owen_faz to lead England for the tour of South Africa: https://t.co/HxcGYeBq0E pic.twitter.com/OHPsGo5i2k— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) June 6, 2018
“Owen is special in terms of the way he talks. He’s exactly like his dad in the way he talks. He sounds the same,” Brown said.
“That’s what makes his dad a great coach as well – he energises and motivates people.
“He gets the best out of people and Owen brings that on to the field in all parts of the game.
“A couple of years ago I’d never seen someone at his age being the way he is. He is special.”
Hartley faces an uncertain international future after being forced to take an extended break from the game due to the most recent in a string of concussions sustained against Ireland in May.
“Owen has just carried on what Dylan did off the field. He’s carried those standards on, which has been so important in where we have got to,” Brown said.
“Owen has carried that on, but brought his own style to it. They are both great leaders in my eyes. It’s great to play under both of them.”
Eddie Jones names his team for the first Test at lunchtime on Thursday with the fitness of lock Joe Launchbury the biggest area of doubt.
The Wasps captain could miss the series opener with a calf injury sustained in training last week, placing Nick Isiekwe and Jonny Hill on standby in case he fails to come through a fitness test.
With South Africa’s first Test against England just days away, we take a look at seven stars that could re-ignite their revival this year.
A monster of a man.
The towering 6’8 Stormers lock keeps the pack well-organised and is the tipping point between winning and losing the forward battle such is his imposing presence.
Shows up all over the pitch and is an outstanding line-out option. Although he is injured for the England series, the 26-year-old has all the skills in his armoury to inspire Rassie Erasmus’s side to future success.
Makes everything tick for this Springboks side; from his box kicking, crisp passing, decision-making and to the way he marshalled his pack around ruck time.
In the post-Victor Matfield era, the Springboks are still searching for on-field leadership and – aside from Pieter-Steph du Toit and Kolisi – Pienaar has shown he can fill some of that void with his unselfish decision-making and ability to act as a ninth forward with his physicality and voracious work rate ensuring team-mates follow his lead.
His ability to take players into an attack from any position is invaluable, as well as initiating breaks that led to buckets of scoring chances during Montpellier’s run to the Top 14 final this season.
The new leader.
A high class operator at the breakdown, the Cape Town man will be a constant source of inspiration as he attempts to lead his side back among the top three sides in the game.
The 26-year-old is an instrumental presence for club and country with his strong offloading, solid carrying and smoking footwork all serious threats.
In defence, he can tackle effectively, win his own ball comfortably and show serious willingness in the tight areas.
WILLIE LE ROUX
A real filip for the Boks to have the 28-year-old available for the series.
At 6ft, the Stellenbosch native possesses pace, power, good defence and reliability under the high ball, and can act as an option for full-back and wing.
With four tries and 19 assists in 21 Premiership games, Le Roux is coming into the series on the back of his most promising campaign to date for Wasps.
If the Spingboks can get the ball out wide at pace, then it will be difficult to stop his searing speed and power from close range.
A star still waiting to sparkle.
The 2014 Young Player of the Year has reached nowhere near his potential after a series of shoulder, knee and ankle injuries has curtailed his progress to date.
Now fit and firing, the Bulls star is in a position to take control of the No10 jersey for the first time since the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Physical in attack and defence, the 24-year-old has the ability to keep opponents constantly guessing with ball in hand and is accurate from the boot.
The former World Player of the Year nominee has been in swackbuckling form this campaign, playing key roles in Toulon’s run to the Champions Cup and Top 14 knock-out stages.
His huge physicality (6’3 and 120kg) is a menace to any opposition and – coupled with his workrate – he is an outstanding footballer with a high skill level.
If England can stop the influential No8’s dominance at the breakdown, then they will have a great chance of winning the series.
BISMARCK DU PLESSIS
One of the greatest hookers of all time.
With rising star Malcom Marx ruled out of the series, the experienced Free State man will step in to provide the firepower in the front row.
Dynamic and abrasive with exceptional reading of the breakdown, the 34-year-old is a battering ram who will be central to cutting down England’s influence up front.
With the destructive Tendai Mtawarira alongside him in the scrum, the Springboks have two rocks capable of causing damage with and without the ball.
His throwing is immaculate too.