The Rocks hope new pitch is just the start

Matt Jones - Editor 22:56 24/08/2016
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Rocking the future: RAK Rocks chairman Mike Silvester (third right) is no stranger to rugby, having played the game since 1981.

Although from the outside looking in it may appear as if the club it at a low ebb, chairman Mike Silvester is confident that things are finally starting to turn in their favour.

The Rocks, forced to change their name for their Community League debut last season, finally have a permanent place to call home and Silvester believes the all sand pitch currently under construction will give them a distinct advantage when the new campaign kicks off next month.

“We didn’t have a pitch (last season). Our home games were played at Sharjah. We’re from Ras Al Khaimah so it was ridiculous,” said Silvester.

“In October last year we started looking at a pitch. I spent nearly 10 months looking for sponsors to do the earthworks.

“We can’t afford grass or to water it. It would cost around Dh400,000. A full pitch would be Dh1.7m and to keep it watered would cost Dh100,000 per year.

“We can’t afford that so it was decided we’d go back to basics. We’re one of the oldest clubs in the UAE, along with Dubai Exiles, Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Sharjah Wanderers.

“We had a pitch in the 1980s, it was a sand pitch. The Dubai Sevens pitch was sand until around 2000. It will give us an advantage once we get used to running around on it.”

Rugby has been played in the northern emirate for nearly 50 years and the club itself has been in existence since around 1981.

There have been ups and downs during the last three decades and the club has floated in and out of existence.

That all changed, however, when Silvester moved to the area in September 2013 and decided he wanted to get involved with the club.

Silvester, originally from Essex, has lived in the Middle East for 16 years, spending five years in Yemen and eight in Dubai before relocating to RAK.

“The club entered the Sharjah 10s towards the end of the 2012/13 season,” said Silvester, who has played rugby since 1981 including for the Royal Engineers in the British Army.

“They had to borrow Sharjah’s second team kit and turned it inside out, but they won the Plate. I arrived a few months later. Now here we are.”

Here wouldn’t be possible without an army of sponsors Silvester has managed to attract to the club.

He is hugely grateful for the support that Bin Majid Beach Resort, the Government of Ras Al Khaimah Waste Management Authority, BAM International, Boskalis, Tempest, the BLUEMAC Group, RAK Hospital and Creative Intelligence have all provided.

There is plenty of work still to do ahead of the new season but Silvester hopes everything will be in place for coach James Parker, a former UAE international, when they face Arabian Knights in a pre-season friendly on September 9.

“We finished bottom last year, we were a new club, but we’re hoping to do better this season,” he said. “The only way is up. Improvement should be straightforward, let’s see how it goes.”

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