Mike McFarlane claims this could be his final season as head coach of Abu Dhabi Harlequins after signing a fresh one-year deal to remain in charge of the Zayed Sports City outfit for the 2018/19 campaign.
The Englishman has been here before apparently – revealing that he told himself two years ago that he was calling it quits. Then, he led Quins to an unprecedented sweep of all major trophies in 2016/17.
Even after that he considered once again calling it a day. After all, where else is there to go after you’ve won absolutely everything?
He was once again persuaded to stay on. And after retaining only their Asia Rugby Western Clubs Champions League title from a memorable 2016/17 campaign last term, as well as adding the inaugural UAE Premiership Cup, McFarlane revealed he gave the future serious thought following season’s end.
“The boys are incredibly persuasive,” he joked, after he and the club stated he will be at the helm for a fourth campaign next season.
So, will year number four actually be the final one?
He replied: “Who knows. Two years ago was the final year. Last year was. But there comes a time when I need to prioritise family and it’s a huge ask on top of a busy, challenging job. It’s an exciting position to be in and an ongoing learning journey with a great group of boys.”
So, essentially, it could be his last year. He’s said that before, but he will assess the situation again in 12 months’ time.
He said: “The contract will be for one year. I wasn’t going to continue after this season. Whatever happens, it has to be right for me and the club in order to keep the club moving forward.”
And right for the family of course, with McFarlane juggling his coaching responsibilities with a demanding job as a PE teacher at the British School Al Khubairat, as well as a wife and young daughter at home.
McFarlane took over at Quins from former Munster full-back Jeremy Manning in the summer of 2015. After the New Zealander had led Quins to the UAE Premiership title in 2014/15, McFarlane ushered in a three-year period of dominance in which standards at the club were meticulously raised, as well as trophies.
Ten in total. Out of 19 available over the last four years. That included 2016/17’s marvelous quintuple, as well as three-straight Dubai Sevens titles from 2015-17.
McFarlane’s decision to stick rather than twist has been welcomed by Quins chairman Andy Cole.
“I am delighted to announce that Mike McFarlane will continue as head coach of Abu Dhabi Harlequins for the coming season,” said Cole.
“Mike’s work ethic, organisational and leadership skills are at the highest level. Mike and his family go above and beyond the role of head coach and we are very lucky to have them as part of the club.”
Pre-season for Quins begins on June 24 and now that he’s committed his immediate future to the club, McFarlane will be doing everything he can to bring success back to the capital next year after Jebel Ali Dragons, Dubai Exiles and Bahrain pinched the four biggest accolades (West Asia Premiership, UAE Premiership, Dubai Sevens and West Asia Cup) away from Abu Dhabi. Especially if it proves to be his last in charge.
“With the foundations embedded, the professional setup and the close knit culture I have seen grow and develop over my tenure at Quins, I am pleased to be continuing as head coach for this coming season,” McFarlane added.
“As ever, I will demand the highest expectations of the players but in return know that it will be a fulfilling rugby experience being part of the club both for them as players and their families.
“I know the committee and the club are working tirelessly to ensure we are ready for another great season from logistics to acquiring sponsors.”
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