Having had a taste of international rugby on the UAE’s Asia Rugby Championship tour to Malaysia earlier this year, Jebel Ali Dragons full-back Ryno Fourie admits he’s hungry for more.
In the wake of the UAE failing to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Chennai in March, national team head coach Roelof Kotze has decided to reintroduce expatriates to the sevens fold. South African Fourie is one of those and has been training at 7he Sevens this week ahead of the Asian Sevens Series in September and October.
The 33-year-old has been living in the Emirates for a decade and previously represented the Arabian Gulf. He says it would be an “honour” to be involved with the UAE sevens squad in the upcoming tournaments in Shanghai and Colombo.
"It will be another honour for me to play for the national sevens side" – Fourie
“I played when I was a youngster for the Arabian Gulf and it’s nice to be back involved,” said Fourie.
“It’s an accomplishment for me to have been part of the UAE for so long. It will be another honour for me to play for the national sevens side. I hope I can represent them in the next tournament and make them proud.”
Fourie was among familiar faces in Malaysia, Dragons’ team-mates Niall Statham, Adam Telford, Andrew Carphin, Daniel Minks, Michael Botha and Paul Hart all part of a UAE team that recorded wins over Thailand and Chinese Taipei but fell short of winning promotion to Division I following a 20-19 loss to hosts Malaysia.
Fourie revealed a lot of the players on tour expressed a desire to become more involved.
“We said in Malaysia that we would like to get involved with the sevens. I know a lot of the other senior 15 boys are keen to get
involved. In Malaysia we came close and we want to give it a go in sevens too,” said Fourie.
The senior UAE players returned to training last night, ahead of the Shanghai 7s (September 5-6) and Colombo 7s (October 10-11).
The Under-20s have already been training for a few weeks ahead of two tournaments in Malaysia and Hong Kong between August 15-16 and 21-22 respectively.
Despite expats being brought back in by Kotze, compatriot Fourie has been impressed by what he’s seen from his Emirati colleagues at UAE training.
“From what I can see, they’re switched on and I think we have a good enough team to finish inside the top two or three (at Shanghai in September).
“As for the U-20s, I think what Roelof’s done is a good thing. I’ve watched some of their games on film and from where they were up to now there’s been a big improvement.
“We train with them and can see they’re really stepping up. I think they’ll hit the tournament and I hope they’ll come back with a few wins.”
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