Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Duncan Murray impressed on his return after 20 months, not sure whether he would fit into the UAE rugby side. Photos by Mike young / The National
Duncan Murray impressed on his return after 20 months, not sure whether he would fit into the UAE rugby side. Photos by Mike young / The National

Duncan Murray rekindles his love affair with UAE rugby

The returning centre and the exciting debutante Ross Combe helped the hosts finish the Cup of Nations with a spring in their step, writes Paul Radley

DUBAI // After a tournament of predictably lean pickings, the UAE signed off the Cup of Nations with something to cheer last night with the emergence of a new gem as well as the long-awaited return of an old one.

Ross Combe, a 19 year old from Al Ain Amblers, capped a bright maiden campaign in national team colours with the only try of the tournament for the UAE.

Just as he was doing so, Duncan Murray was reacquainting himself with the international arena for the first time in 20 months.

The Dubai Hurricanes centre served a one-year suspension after testing positive for a banned stimulant which he consumed unwittingly via an over-the-counter energy drink.

Murray, formerly a professional in the UK before he moved to Dubai, conceded he felt emotional on his return to the side.

"It doesn't matter where you are from, you can be English, New Zealander, Emirati, anything - this is our country and we are proud to represent it," Murray said.

"It is probably the first time I have had that feeling, and it was very nice.

"It has revitalised my love for UAE rugby. I am just really annoyed I missed two tackles."

Murray, whose re-emergence came as a second-half replacement, had not been expecting this. In fact, at the start of this season he said he feared the national team may have moved on without him, never to return.

However, the representative side are light on numbers altogether, let alone players of his rich pedigree.

After meeting the management at the Jebel Ali Sevens last month, and following a variety of persuasive text messages this week, he was coaxed back into the fold.

He still had his doubts.

Forget about the fact the UAE were facing a Zimbabwe side ranked 30 in the world - 66 places above them in the IRB standings.

Murray's biggest concern ahead of his return was that the UAE's No 19 shirt would be baggy enough.

The figure-hugging outfits that are de rigueur in rugby these days are rarely suited to players who have spent 20 months on the sidelines.

"I was under no illusions," Murray said.

"Work has been so hectic and I am not fit enough at this level yet, but I want to give it a good go for the Asian Five Nations [in April] - 100 per cent."

While Murray gave a brief reminder of his merits, Combe impressed in giving a first glimpse of his this week.

The late try he touched down was due reward for a week of endeavor for a centre who trialled with London Wasps at the end of last season.

"I love rugby and it means a lot to represent UAE having lived here for the past 10 years," Combe said.

"I am glad I have been able to do it for these three games."

After two close defeats, Zimbabwe were happy to sign off with a comprehensive win.

"We have endless talent in Zimbabwe, and if we can put that all together we can become quite a force," said Brendan Dawson, their coach.


twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Raheem Sterling of Liverpool scores the opening goal against Norwich City on Sunday at Carrow Road. Michael Regan / Getty Images / April 20, 2014

In pictures: Sterling, Suarez inch Liverpool closer to title

Raheem Sterling, with a double, and Luis Suarez accounted for all three goals in Liverpool’s 3-2 away win over Norwich City on Sunday, leaving them five points up on Chelsea with three left to play.

 Manager Matt Williams benching star Bryce Harper, above, may have sent the wrong message to the rest of the Washington Nationals. Mike Ehrmann / AFP

Benching Harper sends Williams’s right message the wrong way

Matt Williams, the Washington Nationals manager, made the biggest move of his 18-game tenure on Saturday, benching rising star Bryce Harper for his “lack of hustle”.

 Players such as George Springer are a sign that things are starting to swing in the Houston Astros' favour. But more help is needed. Scott Halleran / AFP

Houston Astros are still earth-bound but help is on the way

As harbingers of a new era go, the Houston Astros could have done worse than misspelling their new phenom’s name on his major-league debut.

 Arsenal's Lukas Podolski celebrates his second goal during the Premier League match against Hull City at The KC Stadium in Hull, England, on April 20, 2014. Lynne Cameron / AP Photo

Arsenal maintain push for top-four finish with victory at Hull

Hull could end up in Europe regardless of the FA Cup final result if Arsenal finish in the Uefa Champions League places

 Ashish Nehra of Chennai Super Kings bowls to Kings XI Punjab at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Hard-hitting Chennai not deterred by opening loss in IPL

But some questions remain about the team's attack ahead of Monday's match against Delhi Daredevils in Abu Dhabi, writes Osman Samiuddin.

 Stanislas Wawrinka turned away fellow Swiss Roger Federer with a 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 victory at the Monte Carlo Masters on April 20, 2014. Julian Finney / Getty Images

Wawrinka backhands Federer aside at Monte Carlo Masters

Stanislas Wawrinka won the Monte Carlo Masters for the first time after rallying to beat Roger Federer 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 in a rare all-Swiss final.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National