UAE coach delighted by best-ever finish for U-20s

Matt Jones - Editor 12:00 15/08/2016
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Al Ain's Ryno De Bruyn was one of several relatively new faces who caught the eye.

UAE Rugby’s performance manager was disappointed not to achieve the top four finish he craved prior to the weekend, but Perelini admitted he was delighted with how his side ended the weekend in Kowloon.

His fledgling team suffered opening day defeats to South Korea and the hosts on Friday but ended the day with a morale-boosting win against Singapore.

The good vibes continued on Saturday as victories against Thailand and Chinese Taipei saw the UAE finish fifth – in what was a watershed moment for the nation’s youngsters.

“The team did very well to finish fifth overall in the championship and winning the Plate final against a very tough Chinese Taipei team,” said Perelini, who took the reins of Emirates rugby last October after Roelof Kotze stood down.

“It is the best finish for UAE in the Asian competitions. We’re the youngest union in all the top Asian competitions, but are making the loudest noise in terms of progress.”

The UAE’s senior side has been competing on the Asian sevens circuit since 2010 but the U-20s are only in their third year of existence.

They haven’t enjoyed such success previously, finishing seventh and sixth in legs one and two in their debut year.

The 2015 season was even worse as the UAE finished eighth in both Johor and Hong Kong. They improved to seventh out of 10 teams in the first leg of the 2016 ARSS in Malaysia last month, with a new high of fifth achieved this past weekend in Kowloon.

The milestone pleases former dual code Samoa star Perelini, who believes his side have taken a giant stride this year.

“Unions like Hong Kong and Japan are now taking us more seriously as opposed to thinking the UAE are just making up the numbers,” said Perelini, 47.

“I was hoping for a top four finish, but we can’t compete against teams that are almost in full time training, so I am happy with the finish and also happy with the progress that UAE rugby is making in the Asian rankings.

“It is making us serious contenders for future competitions.”

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