The growth of rugby in the UAE among local children continues following the delivery of 800 balls to various schools in the country.
The UAE Rugby Federation’s Impact Beyond project gains more momentum as the federation and the Ministry of Education (MoE) strengthen their partnership, which will allow the sport to reach more school-aged Emirati children.
This bond has been strengthened through the collaboration for the federation’s Get Into Rugby initiative and highly successful Player Pathway Programme (PPP), supported by HSBC, which has been introduced into the school sports curriculum for Cycles 4 through 11.
Previously, the GIR programme was delivered to girls and boys in Cycles 9 through 11 with the 2017/2018 season seeing an impressive 17,000 girls and 13,000 boys introduced to the game in Emirati schools across the UAE.
“We are extremely pleased to have achieved this season’s performance goals as set by our board and the ministry” said Salman Hady, vice
chairman of the UAE RF and chairman of the development committee.
“It is incredibly rewarding for us to see the number of Emirati girls and boys participating in and enjoying our sport, and we are delighted to be able to take the game into five additional cycles.
“We extend our sincere gratitude to both the ministry and to HSBC whose support and commitment has made this possible.”
The federation recently presented the MoE with 800 rugby balls to be used in next season’s PPP. The handover of the balls was made at the MoE offices and was attended by Hady, UAE RF CEO Hamdan Suliman; rugby development manager Sami Smara, MoE director of health and physical fitness Aisha Al Siri, Ahmed Abdulrahman of the MoE’s schools sports department and Peter Moore, programme manager for physical and health education.
Brilliant goal-kicking by Owen Farrell and a superbly created Jonny May try gave England a 25-10 dead-rubber Test victory over South Africa on Saturday, which snapped a six-match losing run.
Here, we take a look at three of the stand-out players from the series.
FAF DE KLERK
Minutes played: 223 (73, 74, 76)
The Sale man was one of the stand-out performers for the Boks, with his clever box kicking, razor-like passing, decision-making and ability to marshal his pack effectively around ruck time all key to helping the home side tick.
He made superb tackles on Henry Slade and Chris Robshaw and scored a try in a man-of-the-match performance in the first Test, but wasn’t afforded the same time and space to orchestrate proceedings in the win at Bloemfontein.
His powerful tackle on Nathan Hughes in Newlands – who is nearly a foot taller and 45kg heavier than him – brought the home crowd to their feet, but he struggled to get on the fronfoot against an in-form England attack.
A key conductor to Rassie Erasmus side and a monster of a man for just 5′ 6″.
Minutes played: 240 (80, 80, 80)
The former World Player of the Year nominee was in sctintillating form over the three matches, playing key roles in the wins at Ellis Park and Bloemfontein.
His experience and calmness helped the confidence of younger players in the first Test, forcing two penalties at ruck time, to put the Boks in firm control.
At Bloemfontein, he was imply immense, showing brute power and vision to spot the gap for try and he also completed nine tackles and was a general menace at the breakdown.
Even in the third Test defeat, his carrying was emphatic and he secured one brilliant turnover off Joe Launchbury. A true warrior of this improving Springboks pack.
Minutes played: 225 (65, 80, 80)
England’s stand out player of the series. Even in the two defeats, the Sale man stood up while all other Red Rose players wilted.
Barely 20-years-old, Curry showed signs of his supreme talents, getting over the ball and really growing into that number seven role – an area that has been a huge problem since England’s Six Nations demise.
He was a menace at the breakdown on Sunday, sealing a penalty that led to three points for Owen Farrell, as well as getting one clear-out on Vermeulen and providing the pass for Danny Cipriani’s chip through for Johnny May’s try.
Although England received little frontfoot ball in the defeats at Ellis Park and Bloemfontein, Curry still showcased his strong offloading, solid carrying and smoking footwork to try and force a way back for a gallant away side.
If Eddie Jones can leave South Africa with some positives then it is Curry’s emergence as he looks towards the autumn.
Dai Young admits that Wasps have landed “a very difficult draw” in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup.
Wasps and their fellow former European title holders Bath have been bracketed in arguably the tournament’s toughest group.
Apart from the Premiership rivals meeting each other, they must also get to grips with reigning champions Leinster and French giants Toulouse, who boast eight European crowns between them.
“It’s a very difficult draw, but that is what you expect when you are playing against the best 19 other teams in Europe,” Young said.
“It’s exciting to be drawn with the defending champions and Toulouse, who have also won the competition several times. They will be great match-ups.
“We’ve also had some really good games with Bath in recent seasons, including a double-header in Europe three seasons back.
“They will all be tough games. We will have to be at our best to get through, but hopefully we will have a bit of luck this year and get to play these games when we are not carrying lots of injuries.”
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) June 20, 2018
The draw, which took place at Lausanne’s Olympic Museum in Switzerland, was much kinder to Premiership champions Saracens.
Saracens, who regained the Premiership title last month by beating Exeter at Twickenhan, have been drawn with Glasgow, Lyon and European Challenge Cup holders Cardiff Blues.
Newcastle – back in European rugby’s top-flight competition after a 14-year absence – face Montpellier, Toulon and Edinburgh.
Newcastle’s St James’ Park will play host to the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals next May, but the Falcons will have their work cut out to progress from a group that includes such a heavyweight French presence.
A west country derby lies ahead in Pool 2, with Premiership sides Exeter and Gloucester drawn together, and that quartet being completed by former European Cup winners Munster and reigning French champions Castres.
And Leicester, eliminated at the pool stage in their last Champions Cup campaign, must overcome 2018 runners-up Racing 92, in-form Scarlets and 1999 champions Ulster.
Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac said: “A semi-final in last season’s competition is something that we are all immensely proud of, but equally just as disappointed that we didn’t play to the best of our abilities on that afternoon in Dublin (against Leinster).
Who remembers this? We’ve shared some great memories with @leinsterrugby@StadeToulousain and @bathrugby. Here’s how Dai views the 2018/19 @ChampionsCup pool…https://t.co/7LfqSElatk pic.twitter.com/TmF9SYqjA5
— Wasps Rugby (@WaspsRugby) June 20, 2018
“Getting a good start in these competitions is vital, and that’s something we failed to do last season.
“We will be looking to improve our performances in the opening rounds, look to build on last season’s success and ensure that we remain competitive in both domestic and European competitions.”
The draw for the Challenge Cup pools was also made, giving Northampton a reunion with familiar Champions Cup rivals Clermont Auvergne – Dragons and Romanian minnows Timisoara Saracens are also in their group – while Sale Sharks face Bordeaux-Begles and Perpignan, plus Irish challengers Connacht.
2018/19 Heineken Champions Cup draw
Pool 1 – Leinster, Wasps, Toulouse, Bath
Pool 2 – Castres, Exeter, Munster, Gloucester
Pool 3 – Saracens, Glasgow, Lyon, Cardiff Blues
Pool 4 – Scarlets, Racing 92, Leicester, Ulster
Pool 5 – Montpellier, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Toulon
2018/19 European Challenge Cup draw
Pool 1 – Northampton, Clermont Auvergne, Dragons, Timisoara Saracens
Pool 2 – Pau, Ospreys, Worcester, Stade Francais
Pool 3 – Sale Sharks, Connacht, Bordeaux-Begles, Perpignan
Pool 4 – La Rochelle, Zebre, Bristol, Enisei-STM
Pool 5 – Benetton, Harlequins, Agen, Grenoble