Al Ain Amblers will remain in the UAE Conference next season, director of rugby Rocco De Bruyn has confirmed.
The Garden City club dropped down to domestic rugby’s second tier after just one UAE Premiership game last season, a heavy loss to Abu Dhabi Saracens, having been ravaged of their star players during a tumultuous summer. Their fortunes turned throughout the season as they surged from nowhere, qualifying for the UAE Conference’s Top 6. There they won four games to finish top and claim a berth in April’s final, though they lost a thrilling game 31-26 to Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2nds.
With Quins unable to opt for promotion to the Premiership as their senior team play there, the choice passes to the runners-up, but De Bruyn says the club will stay put for 2017/18.
“We’ll definitely be in the Conference next season,” the South African said. “The ruling would be the team who wins the Conference will be moving up unless it’s a second team like Harlequins.”
Sharjah Wanderers, 2015/16 Conference champions, decided against bridging the ever-increasing gap in quality to the Premiership, having seen Amblers struggle after making the step up.
The UAE Rugby Federation said last summer it would force teams to accept promotion but De Bruyn insists no order has been made.
He added: “Nothing was discussed at the AGM. The UAE RF haven’t told us we have to opt for promotion and we have decided to stay and compete in the Conference again.”