Great news for UAE rugby as Sharjah Wanderers announce a return to action in 2019/20

Matt Jones - Editor 19:19 02/07/2019
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Wanderers players celebrate their 2016 UAE Conference triumph.

One of the UAE’s most popular and oldest rugby clubs will make a welcome return to action next season after 12 months away.

Sharjah Wanderers’ men’s team will be back in action for 2019/20 after taking a 12-month hiatus on the eve of the 2018/19 season due to player departures. Club chairman at the time, Shane Breen, revealed Wanderers had lost half of their players from the previous season over the summer of 2018, leaving them with a tough decision to make.

But, as had been the case with the news delivered a year ago, the club announced via their Instagram account on Thursday that their men’s team is returning and recruiting for the upcoming campaign, with pre-season training starting on August 27, taking place on Tuesday evenings from 7.30pm at King’s School Al Barsha.

Chris Paton has replaced Sharjah-born Breen as chairman, while a new committee will also be in place to steer the club forward.

But Breen revealed he will still be around to offer any advice if needed.

“A few of the lads are working to start the men’s team back up gain. I’ve stepped down as chairman and there’s a fresh committee who will be great for the club and they’ll try to get things back to where they used to be,” said 33-year-old Breen, who first turned out for the club aged six.

The Northern Irishman, who is himself taking a break this season as he and his wife, Ciara, are expecting their first child in August, added: “I might join the boys in a playing capacity later on in the season but for now I’m just giving the new committee advice when they ask for it.

“Chris has been very proactive so far in trying to get things going again. The club needed some fresh input and hopefully it goes well.”

Wanderers are one of the Emirates’ oldest clubs, established in 1977, and they celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2017.

Only Dubai Exiles and Abu Dhabi Bats (now Harlequins) have been around longer. Quins came into being in 1974 while Exiles were the first club to be created in the UAE, in 1966.

The club has enjoyed much success in recent years. Nic Walters led Wanderers to a thrilling UAE Conference title win three years ago – beating Jebel Ali Dragons 2nds in the 2015/16 final.

After deciding against promotion to the top-flight of UAE rugby, Sharjah struggled a year later before returning to prominence in 2017/18 as they reached the Conference final yet again, this time on the losing side as Dubai Tigers’ sudden death try earned a 25-20 win.

Wanderers had continued to thrive in other departments even as their men’s side took a break last season, with their women’s rugby team, as well as the club’s thriving gaelic sports sides, continuing to compete. They had also continued to enter men’s and vets sides at the Dubai Rugby Sevens as well as other sevens and 10s tournaments throughout the season.

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