UAE Rugby Still Positive Despite it’s Exclusion from Dubai Rugby Sevens

August 30, 2012

UAE rugby furture still remains bright even after the announcement that the country will not compete at its home event, pill the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens this November.

This follows the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) implementation of a new merit-based qualification system into the HSBC Sevens World Series, generic which selects only the top 16 sides.

But the IRB Head of Development and Performance Mark Egan tried to assuage this blow by insisting: “While UAE will not be competing in the HSBC Sevens World Series event at this year’s 2012 Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, the future for rugby in the UAE is bright. From a rugby sevens perspective, the UAE RA is putting in place some very exciting plans with a view towards qualification for the Asian Games in 2014 and future Olympic Games. There has been tremendous development progress in the UAE since the current Board took over the governance of the game, and the IRB will continue to work closely with the UAE RA and all our member unions to make sure the sport continues to grow in their territories.”

Egan explained that, under the new system, the top teams in the Asian Sevens Series would proceed to a qualifying tournament with the best-ranked teams from the other five IRB regions to compete for places in all forthcoming Rugby Sevens World Series.

Formed only two years ago from the break-up of the Arabian Gulf Rugby Football Union, the UAE RA was handed a wild-card to last year’s Dubai event to celebrate their debut season as a rugby-playing nation.

However, with sevens becoming an Olympic sport in 2016 and the Rugby Sevens World Cup in Russia now just under a year away, the IRB has decided to hand invites to only the 16 highest-ranked nations.

Suffering heavy defeats in all three group games at last year’s Dubai Sevens and having finished ninth on the HSBC Asian Sevens circuit, the UAE has not yet done enough to warrant a recall.

Chairman of the UAE RA, Mohammad Falaknaz, said: “We fully respect and understand the IRB decision as elite performance unions enter a four-year cycle of preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games. UAE Rugby still has plans to participate annually in the Dubai and Asian Sevens Series as part of our ongoing development.

“We are still committed in the pursuit of our vision to be prominent and successful in Asian rugby. As part of our strategic development, we are currently implementing programmes to expand our player base within the Emirati population, to develop sevens in schools and tertiary institutions and to organise new domestic and regional competitions. All will provide a sustainable performance model for Asian Games qualification and beyond.”