ABU DHABI // The organisers of Abu Dhabi Harlequins Junior Rugby Tournament want new pitches to be built in the capital so next year's event can attract even more international teams.
Over Friday and yesterday, 2,000 players, between the ages of five and 18, made up 161 teams, including representatives from Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Wales, that took part in 465 matches in total.
Plans for the 2012 tournament are already being formulated and the biggest problem will be whether Zayed Sport City can cope with the numbers Harlequins are forecasting based on the success of this year's installment. The capital venue currently has four grass pitches.
"We are just about at capacity at the moment and would need more pitches if we were to expand, which is our aim," said Andy Cole, the Harlequins chairman.
"I know that the sponsors, Etihad Airways, would certainly like more international teams and would use their own aircraft to bring clubs over here.
"So maybe that is something we will look at over the next few weeks once the dust has settled on this tournament.
"A bigger tournament would help promote Asian rugby, and this is particularly important as the 2019 World Cup is being held in Japan."
During the tournament, the teams play tag or touch rugby up to the age of eight - the girls do this at all age levels - and every age group plays sevens, apart from the Under 9s who took part in 10-a-side matches. Games lasted a maximum of two halves of seven minutes.
Llandovery College from Wales were one of the overseas clubs who took part along with Kuwait Saracens, Doha Rugby Club and Bahrain Rugby Football Club.
Joe Morgan, 18, a member of the Welsh party who were unbeaten all weekend, was impressed with the event.
"It's been a brilliant weekend, but I have been a bit surprised that there haven't been too many Arab players," he said. "But that will change. I reckon that in 10 years time there will be as many Emiratis playing rugby as those who come from rugby countries.
"I tell you one thing, the facilities are miles better than anything you would have in the UK, so everything is set-up here to get everyone involved in the game."
The UAE was represented in the seventh running of the event by Abu Dhabi French, Dubai Exiles, English College Dubai, Hurricanes and Arabian Knights (also from Dubai), Sharjah Wanderers, Al Ain Amblers and hosts Harlequins.
"The best thing has been we've had 2,000 children out playing rugby and 99.9 per cent of them have a smile on their faces," said Guy Fulbrook, the tournament director. "The standard of rugby has been really good over both days and hopefully everyone will be back next year."