Widely regarded as two of the greatest Sevens players of all time, Waisale Serevi and Ben Gollings, have landed in the UAE today to lead the HSBC Rugby Festivals powered by Serevi this week for more than 300 young Emirati players.
The Sevens legends will be spending time with the UAE National Schoolboys’ teams as they prepare to compete at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens next week.
Eight teams will be vying for the UAE National Schoolboys trophy this year where the final match will be played on Pitch 1 in front of 40,000 spectators marking another huge milestone in UAE rugby.
Qais Al Dhalai, secretary general of the UAE Rugby Federation (UAERF) has been leading the rise of UAE rugby and is quick to highlight the importance of these expert coaching clinics for the Emirates’ next generation of stars: “It’s an honor for these young players to learn from the game’s most iconic Sevens players.
"Today we have over 3,200 Emirati boys and girls playing the game regularly in local schools. The UAE National Schoolboys tournament is the culmination of years of hard work at a grassroots level."
“Our key focus this week is to prepare the senior teams for the UAE National Schoolboys tournament next month. This means the sessions will focus on core skills, decision-making, and game execution,” commented Serevi, who led Fiji to rugby World Cup sevens victory in 1997 and 2005.
The below is a full list of all the local schools competing in the UAE National Schoolboys Tournament at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens from December 4-6.
1. Secondary Technical School
2. Al Sanawber School
3. Emirates National School
4. Mixed schools form Al Ain
1. Al Shaarawi School
2. Al Maarif School
3. Vocational Education Development Centre
4. Mixed schools form Al Ain
The Webb Ellis Cup, the most coveted prize in Rugby, will visit Dubai this week (November 27 – 28) on the eighth leg of the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour.
Rugby World Cup, the third largest global sporting event behind the Olympics and Football World Cup, takes place in England and Cardiff next year between September 18 and October 31. The Tournament will be hosted in 13 venues in 11 cities across the country.
The Trophy Tour, which is being delivered in partnership with Land Rover and DHL – two long supporters of the Game and Rugby World Cup 2015 Worldwide Partners – is the first time Rugby’s most coveted prize has been showcased around the world visiting 15 countries over 12 months as part of a celebration of Rugby in the lead up to Rugby World Cup 2015.
The Trophy will be in Dubai on Thursday 27 and Friday 28 November where it will visit a number of locations in and around the city.
Rights free images and video footage of all the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour activity will be available daily via an FTP service – details will be shared on Thursday November 27.
Al Ain Amblers Rugby Club chairman Andre Fourie says he cannot understand the jealousy surrounding the club’s success this season.
Al Ain 1sts are storming towards the Sport360° UAE Conference title with nine wins from nine games. They lead second placed Heartbeat Tigers by five points and have scored 510 points so far, while their defensive record – 45 points conceded – is also the best in the division by some distance.
It seems the old adage of success breeding jealousy rings true, however, with the club’s decision to field two teams in the conference now coming in for criticism from some circles.
Club chairman Fourie says he is at a loss to explain the criticism.
He said: “The reason for the second team is that we have lots of players, around 55, coming to training.
“We made a request to the UAE Rugby Federation to enter two teams this season and the majority of the chairmen at other clubs backed our application at the league’s AGM.
“I’m at a bit of a loss to explain the criticism. It’s unfounded and perhaps it’s a bit of jealousy. Lots of people are saying things and I don’t know why, it’s probably because we’re doing so well.”
Despite their success so far this season, Fourie says not all the players at the club are yet at the calibre to play at the more elite Premiership level.
“I’m 43, yet I’m still playing for the first team because of a lack of hookers and props,” he said.
“The team plays with five veterans (over 35s) but that will be difficult to do in the Premiership where the lads are a lot younger and fitter.
“I don’t understand where the jealousy comes from, it’s second tier Middle East rugby at the end of the day.
“Irrespective of this we will be playing in the Premiership next year.
“We want to enter it and we hope we will be competitive if we can keep our players, although we feel our critics will be hoping for our demise.”
He also says critics are missing the point of what the club is trying to achieve.
“We have 2,200 members, 40 per cent of which are Emirati. There are also lots of Emiratis coming through the club ranks, which was the whole reason we started a second team.
“Against Sharjah Wanderers we had four players playing for the seconds and first team player Harab Alazry is a member of the Emirati national team. The club is moving in the right direction and, for some reason, people don’t like that.”
A lot of Al Ain’s players are from the Pacific islands and employed by Al Ain Equestrian, Golf & Shooting Club, or work at the club’s gym and pool.
Work commitments and difficulties with visas for the cross-Gulf competitions are also reasons why Fourie says the team did not make the step up to the Premiership this season.