Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

New rugby league tournament shows ambition of Emirates

Emirates Rugby League plan to harness the rapid expansion of the game here by hosting a four-team international competition at The Sevens.

DUBAI // Emirates Rugby League (ERL) plan to harness the rapid expansion of the game here by hosting a four-team international competition for the best sides in the region at The Sevens, Dubai, next summer. Morocco and Lebanon - two established league-playing countries - will be pitted against the emerging sides from the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the planned Middle East/North Africa Championship. "We are looking for that to become a regular fixture here in Dubai," said the ERL manager, Stephen Fairhall, who also foresees an annual "State of Origin" series against Lebanon during the summer months.

"Our international season will be our summer. We are trying to coordinate that with the different regions and the local seasons that they run." The organisers of the 13-man code in the Emirates have lofty ambitions, despite the lack of background of the sport on these shores. They aim to launch a domestic nine-a-side competition this autumn, with the best players from that feeding the national team for the Mena Competition.

"Our fierce competitor here is rugby union," added Fairhall, who hopes to drive forward their plans via a meeting with the European Rugby League Federation after the Super League Challenge Cup final in the UK in August. He went on: "We need to tiptoe around them to make sure we don't overlap. A lot of our players want to play league and they want to play union, and they want to play both at the same time."

Joshua Sherrin, who already plays for the Arabian Gulf 15s and sevens sides in union, has enjoyed his summer switch to league. He had no experience of the code before last year, having grown up in rugby-mad South Africa but said he would be happy to juggle both league and union during the winter. "If they are both established here, I would like to take part in both," he said. "I don't know which I enjoy more."

The nation's representative side, the UAE Falcons, claimed their maiden victory last month, when they beat Liban Espoir, the emerging Lebanon side, in the city. They are back in action tomorrow against the English club side Saddleworth Rangers, and travel to Beirut in August for the third match of their series of matches with the Lebanese side. pradley@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 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.

 Luis Suarez became the first Liverpool player to score 30 Premier League goals in a season since Ian Rush in 1987. Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

Sterling and Suarez inpire Liverpool to win over Norwich City

The win takes the Premier League table-toppers to 80 points from 35 games.

 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