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.”
Australian Michael Hooper’s one-week suspension for a striking offence is confirmed, allowing the Wallabies to select the flanker for a crucial showdown against New Zealand.
— Wallabies (@Wallabies) July 30, 2015
The 23-year-old was found last week to have struck Argentinian player Nicolas Sanchez in the 59th minute of a match on July 25 in Mendoza in the Rugby Championship and was suspended until August 1.
Super Rugby organisers SANZAR appealed the decision, saying it was too lenient, while the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) appealed on the basis that the ban was made in error.
But a SANZAR Appeals Committee maintained the week-long suspension as it dismissed both appeals.
The ban ruled Hooper out of a domestic game with Manly on Saturday but not the Wallabies’ Rugby Championship match against the All Blacks on August 8 in Sydney.
“Glad it’s wrapped up and I can really look forward to this week and moving forward into the first Bledisloe,” Hooper said in comments published by the ARU.
“It’s been a little bit tough but I have been preparing as if I’ve been right to play and I’ll be trying to get into the team for this week.”
Emirati rugby star Hassan Al Noobi has revealed a chat with Abu Dhabi Saracens captain Jaen Botes convinced him to make a move to the West Asia Champions from Arabian Knights.
Al Noobi, 28, is arguably the brightest home-grown talent in the UAE, cementing his growing reputation with a starring role on the UAE’s tour to Malaysia in May.
Sarries have also raided Knights for Al Noobi’s fellow UAE international, flanker Mohammed Hassan, who was also on the Malaysia tour.
Full-back Al Noobi was impressive in the Asia Rugby Championship, recording a personal haul of 23 points for Roelof Kotze’s side.
The UAE recorded victories over Thailand and Chinese Taipei in Division II.
The only black mark for the UAE and Al Noobi was when the Emirati’s last minute, long range penalty kick against Malaysia bounced agonisingly off an upright, giving the host nation a 20-19 triumph.
The result ultimately denied the UAE promotion back to the second tier of Asian rugby but Al Noobi’s star was clearly on the rise.
Botes shone for Sarries during the 2014/15 campaign, his performances for the Al Ghazal club leading to him being named player of the year winner at the UAE Rugby Annual Awards, and he seemingly saw enough in his international colleague to want to recruit him as a team-mate at club level too.
“I was in Malaysia and we were coming back on the plane and Jaen Botes was sitting next to me and we were talking about Knights and Saracens and he said ‘we need you to play for us, we can help you’,” said Al Noobi, who played for Knights in the UAE Conference last season.
“It feels very good and I’m really happy Saracens wanted me. Playing in the UAE Premiership and for the West Asia champions will be very big for me.”
Al Noobi said he improved as a player at Knights but he is ready to make the step-up to Premiership rugby.
“I had a meeting last Monday with Saracens and I have spoken to Knights and told them I was leaving,” said Al Noobi, who spent two years with the Dubai-based Knights.
“It’s been a happy time at Knights, I’ve improved myself there and now I want to test myself in the best league and prove I’m good enough to play there. I want to play for the West Asia champions and win the Premiership this season. I’m exci-ted for this.”
— Hassan Al Noobi (@Hassanbushaker7) June 30, 2012
Al Noobi’s arrival is a timely tonic for Sarries, cushioning the blow of South African centre Pieter Morton’s departure to Abu Dhabi rivals Harlequins last week.
Sarries’ chairman Jay Danielson said he is delighted to have acquired the talented Al Noobi.
“I can confirm Saracens have signed Hassan Al Noobi. I have spoken with Hassan and we are looking forward to him joining us,” he said.
“He is a good lad and we are happy to have him in the squad.”