Following a difficult summer in which they changed coaches and saw a number of talented Fijians cherry-picked by rival teams, Amblers began the season with a heavy 45-3 defeat to Abu Dhabi Saracens in the West Asia Premiership.
In the wake of that defeat, the Garden City club have been caught up in an underage player row with the game’s governing body, the UAE Rugby Federation.
The dispute revolves around teenagers Jayden Bell and Sunia Laladidi who both featured in Friday’s season opener without the club having gone through the correct process to register players under the age of 17.
A UAE RF statement read: “It came to the attention of UAE Rugby that Al Ain Amblers were in breach of UAE RF Competition Regulations. To play in any senior/ adult competition a player must be 17-years-old or above, with a fully completed dispensation form, signed off by the UAE RF.
“If an under-age player plays adult rugby without completing the above process and obtaining union approval, the player and the club for which he/she has played for will forfeit any matches that the player was involved in and may be liable for other sanction(s) as determined by the UAE RF.
“The dispensation form for Jayden was received Wednesday prior to the fixture, to which communication was made to Rocco (De Bruyn, Amblers director of rugby) to inform him that as per the form, it must be submitted 15 days prior to the fixture in which the player intends to play and he was not eligible to play the upcoming weekend. For Sunia no dispensation form has been received at all.”
Amblers said they did not wish to comment on the ongoing matter. Chairman Sean Emmett said: “The UAE RF has made their decision and Al Ain will accept the decision of the governing body.”
The defeat now reads as an Amblers forfeit and instead of a 45-3 loss, is now 20-0; a less heavy defeat for Amblers while Sarries have seen 22 points essentially erased from their points difference.
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