Dubai Eagles swoop to join UAE elite as 2017/18 rugby calendar is released

Matt Jones - Editor 13:44 03/07/2017
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Despite flourishing on the field last season, Abu Dhabi Harlequins are struggling off it

There will be a new team name on the UAE rugby scene next season after Dubai Eagles were added to the fixture list for the 2017/18 campaign.

The team, which will be based at Dubai Sports City, will go straight into the top-tier UAE Premiership and premier cross-border competition in the Gulf, the West Asia Premiership.

The Eagles will join reigning champions Abu Dhabi Harlequins in both competitions, as well as Dubai Exiles, Abu Dhabi Saracens, Dubai Hurricanes and Jebel Ali Dragons in the UAE Premiership.

Eagles will join the same five UAE sides in the West Asia Premiership, along with Bahrain. Doha will not be allowed to compete in the cross-border competition after diplomatic ties with the UAE and several other Gulf nations were severed last month.

The 2017/18 season kicks off on September 22 across the UAE with the West Asia Premiership – set to be run for the second straight season in conjunction with the UAE Premiership – getting underway on that day, with actual fixtures yet to be decided.

The second and third divisions of UAE rugby, the UAE Conference and Community League, also begin that day, as does the Gulf Conference, which features the UAE Shaheen side along with a Bahrain Select team, Kuwait and Muscat.

The UAE Premiership will feature 14 rounds before the play-offs begin on March 23, 2018, with the finals taking place a week later on March 30.

The Conference will feature 10 teams instead of 11 next season, with Saracens 2nds dropping down into the Community League. As is usual the division will operate on a single round-robin format until December 15, after which it will split into the Top5 and Bottom5 competitions from January 12, with teams playing home and away until March 30.

Reigning champions Quins 2nds will be joined by Exiles 2nds, Dragons 2nds and Hurricanes 2nds, as well as by Tigers, Sharks, Sharjah Wanderers, Dubai Wasps, Arabian Knights and Amblers.

With the addition of Sarries 2nds, the Community League will home 11 teams, including Dragons 3rds. They and Sarries are joined by Shaheen, RAK Rugby, Beaver Nomads, Amblers 2nds, Wasps 2nds, Sharks 2nds and 3rds, Knights 2nds and Dragons 3rds.

After a successful debut last season, the finals of the UAE Premiership, Conference and Community League are once again set to be held on the same day, April 13.

Last season’s inaugural UAE Rugby Grand Finals Day was held at Dubai Sports City on April 7 where Quins completed the quintuple as they beat Dragons 30-20 in the UAE Premiership final.

Quins 2nds also took home silverware as they beat Al Ain Amblers in a thrilling Conference Top 6 final. Heartbeat Tigers beat Dubai Sharks in the Bottom 5 final while Dragons beat Quins in the Community League final.

The Dubai Rugby Sevens, meanwhile, takes place from November 30 to December 2 at the Sevens Stadium.

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