Jan 22, 2015
UAE Rugby becoming more competitive
With Abu Dhabi Saracens defeating their city rivals Harlequins and Doha beating last year's UAE Premiership finalists, the evidence suggests that rugby in the Middle East is becoming more and more competitive.
Rugby in the Gulf region was dominated by Jebel Ali Dragons and Abu Dhabi Harlequins last year, the former won a second successive domestic treble, with the latter winning the UAE Premiership and the Dubai Sevens – two major competitions in the Middle East.
However, Quins have lost their opening two games this year to Saracens and Doha, with the Qatari capital side also hammering last year’s losing UAE Premiership finalists Dubai Hurricanes. Jebel Ali Dragons have also struggled to retain their supremacy: only narrowly defeating Bahrain in last weekend’s fixture after an opening loss to Saracens. All the evidence points to a more competitive UAE rugby scene.
Saracens centre Steve Hamilton has declared the club have loftier ambitions this year than just beating Harlequins in the capital city derby and want to win the competition, he also praised Doha: “Doha are putting down a marker now too and that’s good for Gulf rugby.”
Rather than be intimidated by the rise of other teams, Dragons 2nds coach Mike Lewis are excited: “We were in a dogfight against a pretty tough team (Bahrain) on Friday. Doha look something special too and it’s good to see someone from outside the UAE coming in and putting their mark on Gulf rugby.
He added: “Look how well Saracens are doing too, it makes for a great Gulf Top Six.“
A more competitive rugby environment in the UAE can only help grow the game in the region.
*quotes from The National