Al Ain Amblers withdrawal for the best

Matt Jones - Editor 23:15 29/09/2016
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Amblers withdrawal for the best.

It comes on the back of their opening day 45-3 defeat to Abu Dhabi Saracens – a result that was later changed to a 20-0 forfeit loss after they fielded two underage players.

Amblers director of rugby Rocco De Bruyn said it was a hard decision to make but was ultimately the right one for the future of the club.

“It’s a very, very hard decision the club had to make this week, but we looked at the reality of the situation,” De Bruyn told Sport360.

“We have 30-35 boys coming down to training but our biggest concern is front row players, we don’t have enough qualified.

“According to regulations, if you have five front row players you can have a squad of 22, with four you can have a squad of 18, and this is a problem for us, we don’t have the players.”

To make matters worse, prop Kitione Vatunitu dislocated a shoulder against Sarries, further adding to lack of front-row qualified options available to head coach Niekie Van Blerk.

Six of Al Ain’s talented Fijian corps also left in the summer, snapped up by rivals Abu Dhabi Harlequins, Jebel Ali Dragons and Dubai Exiles, and De Bruyn bemoaned Amblers’ escalating problems.

“It’s one thing after another,” said De Bruyn.

“Front rows are not a dime a dozen and to then go and compete against teams who are getting 100 players at training, it’s a tall order.

“Of course with the boys that went to the other clubs at short notice, we didn’t have time to replace them. It’s a numbers game and you can’t play in the Premiership with 15 guys. For the morale of the players it will be good not to be the league’s punching bag.

“We got hammered by Saracens and they probably won’t be one of the best three teams this season. If we’re struggling after the first game imagine what the situation would be like in a few weeks or months.

“It’s a case of demographics, we have teachers and family guys in Al Ain, a lot of old guys. A lot of good old guys who want to come and play vets.

“They would step up but they don’t want to and we can’t ask them to do that at Premiership level. We’ve got a bunch of vets playing in the Community League who rotate every few scrums. Asking them to step up to Premiership and be reserves, you can’t do that.

“It’s the right thing to do. It doesn’t sit right with us and it’s not what we would have wanted to do but at the end of the day we have to look at player safety and morale. For the long term future of the club it’s the best thing to do.”

Amblers’ fellow UAE clubs were informed of the decision via email.

The UAE Rugby Federation told them any games that have already been played or are due to be played by Amblers will now be recorded as 0-0 results.

Teams due to play Amblers will now have a bye weekend instead.

Amblers have confirmed they will honour tomorrow’s game against Jebel Ali, although no score will be recorded and it will be seen as a friendly match. Dragons are under no obligation to fulfil this fixture.

Amblers now have two teams who will remain in the UAE Conference and Community League competitions.

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