Wanderers beat Jebel Ali Dragons 2nds on Friday to lift the Conference crown but are likely to turn down promotion

Matt Jones - Editor 19:33 27/03/2016
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Wanderers were behind 16-0 early in the season showpiece on Friday before mounting a fight-back and snatching a 27-26 victory in the last seconds.

In addition to lifting the Conference crown and completing an unbeaten 16-game season, victory also brings with it promotion to the top-tier UAE Premiership, but making the step up is not mandatory.

Although the players might be enamored with the idea of pitting their wits against the likes of Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Dubai Exiles next season, Sharjah officials say previous experience and the travails of 2014-15 Conference champions Al Ain Amblers this season mean they are in no hurry to move to the top tier of UAE domestic rugby.

“As a club we still haven’t discussed promotion yet. We’ll just enjoy Friday first and then we’ll sit down to discuss our options,” said club chairman, Shane Breen.

Sharjah players, coaches and fans invade the field after Bracken’s late try

“Amblers beat teams last year by much bigger margins than we have. As far as I know it’s not mandatory to go up. The decision will need to be thought through properly so we don’t repeat past mistakes.”

Wanderers' wonderful season

  • 15 wins from 16
  • One draw (20-20 v Dragons in November)
  • Points for - 431
  • Points against - 145

Although it’s easy to get swept up in the euphoria of Friday, Sharjah’s cautious approach is wholly practical.

Amblers have struggled badly in the Premiership. The Garden City side have lost all eight of their Premiership fixtures this season.

Andrew Rouvi’s men have won just once in 16 matches in 15s rugby this season, their sole victory coming against hapless Muscat in the West Asia Championship a few weeks ago.

It’s a far cry from how they steamrollered their way to promotion last season, and Wanderers are well aware they are not in a position currently to bridge the chasm to the Premiership teams.

“Regardless of the result at the weekend, the Premiership is some way off for Sharjah,” said head coach Nic Walters.

“We’ve made huge strides over the past few seasons and I’m certain the club will continue to move in the right direction – our performance throughout this season certainly raises our profile within the UAE.

Sharjah No8 Isaac Porter had a superb game for Wanderers

Sharjah No8 Isaac Porter had a superb game for Wanderers

“Adding to that, training at The Sevens makes us a far more accessible and attractive club for Dubai-based players, resulting in increased recruitment potential.

“However, the Premiership is a big step-up and, until we are able to field two sides with a clear development pathway, it is not a realistic prospect.”

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