Dubai Exiles’ Sevens open day aimed at all ages

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The place to be: Enthusiasts can make the most of the facilities at 7he Sevens.

Get a taste for rugby this Friday with Dubai Exiles, as the city’s oldest club put on an open day decided to inspire new members to sign up.

The Exiles are long-established in the UAE, running a vibrant mini and youth section as well as boast­ing leading senior, seconds and veterans sides.

They are looking to swell their numbers beyond the 700 members already registered, with a morning of free one-and-a-half hour intro­ductory training sessions to herald the season ahead.

The UAE Premiership outfit have got under-5s through to under-18s teams boys teams. Mixed rugby is played until under-12s, with girls under-15s and under-18s sides coming after that.

“As a rugby club we’ve been in Dubai for more than 40 years,” Exiles mini and youths chairman Toby Shore said. “We have grown from a relatively small club to one that boasts more than 700 members.

“We feel we have lost some of that ‘rugby club’ due to nothing more than sheer size because of the growth we’ve been through.

“For this event, we want to get that back by welcoming new families to join the club and for a chance for our sponsors to get out and come along. We want to pro­vide a club feel across the board.

“The day is for the whole club, including our senior section.”

The day’s activities begin at 08:30 at the world-class 7he Sev­ens, with the youngest age groups being put through their paces by expert coaches. The training finishes at 12:00, by which time an expected 600 plus players will have taken part from all ages.

 New members are being urged to attend and get a taste of the Exiles, while existing members can regroup for the first time since the end of the last campaign.

Shore also stated that for mini players of certain ages, it will pro­vide a first exposure to new rules and experiences.

He said: “For a lot of the kids, they have either just got off the clubs from their school holidays so there is a lot of time to catch up with their mates. It is a time for the squads to come together for the first time since the end of last season.

"There will be a mixture of apprehension and excitement if you are moving from a step-change group, such as under-8s to under-9s where we introduce full tackle and under-12s when they begin playing on a full-sized pitch. There is always a lot of excitement and activity.

“For the under-5s and under-6s, it is about introducing them to rug­by. There is a lot of energy about at 08:30 when you have 200 kids aged under nine running around on the paddock.”

The entire season runs from September to March, featuring two training sessions a week plus league games and tournaments.

If you are bitten by the rugby bug, annual membership fees range from Dh1,400 to 1,950.

“The Exiles are the largest club in Dubai,” Shore said. “We put a lot of time, effort and money into pro­viding great facilities to train kids.

“We put our coaches and medical staff through courses. We are try­ing to bring a family environment back into the club.

“We are rolling out a whole raft of initiatives in the next 18 months that are aimed at putting things back into the membership.”

What: Dubai Exiles open day
Where: 7he Sevens, Dubai-Al Ain Road
When: September 5, 08:00-12:00
Contact: Send your mail to [email protected] or visit www.dubaiexiles.com

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UAE bid for 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens

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Men at the top: (l-r) UAE performance manager Roelof Kotze, UAE RF secretary Qais Al Dhalai and team manager Mohammed Shaker.

The rugby World Cup Sevens could be heading back to Dubai in 2018, after the UAE Rugby Federation revealed they had officially begun the bidding process this weekend.

The Emirates last played host to the showcase of the globe’s finest limited-sides stars in 2009.

The sport has gone from strength-to-strength in the inter­vening years, with attendances top­ping 100,000 for the annual Dubai Sevens extravaganza.

This popularity combined with the world-class 7he Sevens Stadium facilities makes the UAE, who reg­istered intent earlier in the year, a credible candidate.

The International Rugby Board has received interest from 13 other nations, with competition set to come from England, Fiji, France, Hong Kong, Netherlands, New Zea­land, Portugal, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, United States and Wales. Official bids have to be submitted by December, with the winner revealed in May.

“We are bidding for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens, it is a very hot topic for us as we started the bidding process yesterday [Sat­urday],” UAE RF secretary general Qais Al Dhalai said. “This will be in partnership with the Dubai govern­ment. We are going to lobby heavily for this, for our nation.

“The bidding form is a long docu­ment, with requests about many sides of the game – commercial, technical, communication, player welfare, stadium, referees etc.”

The 2013 tournament in Moscow was marked by poor attendance, which Al Dhalai insisted would not be an issue in the UAE.

He added: “Apparently, the IRB have learned from their mistakes from the previous event in Moscow when the stadium was empty.

“It damages the sevens game if you watch the final with only 200 people in a 40,000-seater stadium.”

A potential hurdle to Dubai’s bid comes with the timing of the tour­nament. Organisers are pushing for an August or September start, which would be impossible for the UAE to comply with because of the intense heat during those months.

Al Dhalai said: “One of the big fac­tors that will determine our success is the time factor. The UAE RF is in discussions with the IRB to find a suitable window. We saw positive signs that there could be a mutual agreement to be found.”

The Rugby World Cup Sevens is usually held every four years. But a one-off, five-year gap has been agreed to create a two-year window with the Olympic Games after the

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UAE rugby hurt by Asian Games exclusion

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Performance takes a hit: UAE (green) players contest for the ball during the Asian Rugby Sevens Series.

The UAE’s daunting task to make an impression at the Hong Kong round of the HSBC Asian Rugby Sevens Series became tougher after the players’ confidence was shaken by last week’s decision not to send them to September’s Asian Games, according to team manager Mohamed Shaker.

The 35-year-old’s youthful side were thumped yesterday and on Saturday, finishing bottom after shipping 160 points in heavy losses to opponents Malaysia, Japan, Chinese Taipei and Kazakhstan.

The mood in the developing 12-man squad, which boasted the lowest average age at the tournament and contained four new call-ups, was not helped after the UAE National Olympic Committee informed them on Wednesday that they would not be able to take up their wildcard entry into the upcoming event in South Korea.

“Our Olympic Committee decided to not take the rugby team, we found out two days before we travelled,” Shaker said. “It affected the players, this was a disadvantage.

“The players are very disappointed. It really affected the senior players, as this was the time to play.”

The withdrawal means the UAE are now focusing on the Asian Rugby Football Union’s Olympic pre-qualifiers in Al Ain (October 31) and India (November 29-30).

Part of this drive will see contact made with UAE Premiership sides today, to try and arrange friendly sevens matches. The team’s only try in Hong Kong was scored in the 40-5, 11/12th-place play-off defeat to Kazakhstan.

“We are still learning, as we changed the whole team with most of them being young boys aged 18 or 19,” Shaker said. “Our plan is not for now, it is for the future.”

The UAE next play on September 6-7 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the second of four HSBC Asian Rugby Sevens Series meetings.

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