DUBAI // Rugby League is growing rapidly in the country, going by swelling in the ranks within the UAE Falcons team. The Falcons boasted of nine reserves for Friday night's friendly against English amateur side Saddleworth Rangers. The hosts and the visitors were also impressed by the turn-out at the stadium. Falcons coach Dougall Harvison attributed this growth to hard work by Emirates Rugby League.
Having said that though, several Falcons play the union as well as league codes, and Harvison hoped to wean them away from the union. "That is a difficulty there," the former Australian National Rugby League player said yesterday. "We are going to try to drag them away from that. "Union is well established here and we are trying to get a foothold. But I think there are enough people in the UAE to provide us as a sustainable code.
"It is going to be a tough uphill battle, but I think we can do it. We are going all right and we just got to look forward. "There are many more players. That comes from the administration, from the development with guys coming out from training and actually learning, which is what we want to do. We want to develop the game and have as many people at a good level." The 20-64 loss on Friday was the Falcons' first of the season. They had earlier defeated Lebanese team Liban Espoir twice.
The team will travel to Beirut next month for the third and final match of the Test series on Aug 22. And despite the loss to the Rangers, Harvison said there were plenty of positives from the game that his side could build on for the Lebanon visit. "It was a good preparation with everyone having an idea of what is expected," he said. "I think everyone has come away with what we can improve on. We just have to come up with a few more strategies, fitness techniques that are also enjoyable for the guys."