DUBAI // The giant “Keep Calm” poster which currently dominates the Dubai Marina skyline might have you believe otherwise. But boom times often actually are followed by a downturn.
Just look at the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation veterans side. They won the International Veterans trophy in Dubai five years in succession, calling on Test stars like Will Greenwood, Austin Healey and Percy Montgomery in the process.
The only thing more impressive than their record of success is their contacts book, yet they are light on stellar names this time around.
Austerity measures may mean the headline acts are not quite as luminous as in the past for Dubai vets rugby’s most successful overseas team.
But that is only relative. They still have plenty of talent to call on, thank you very much.
“We have some very good players in the squad, they are just not the headline names,” said Kevin Yates, the former Bath, Saracens, and Wellington Hurricanes prop.
“This year, they wanted to get back to basics with the whole week. It is really about getting the charity’s name out there, not us idiots running around a rugby field.”
With Yates, his fellow England international Chris Sheasby, and a dual-code international with local knowledge like Apollo Perelini in their squad, Christina Noble could easily avenge last season’s loss.
Doing so would mean a return to Pitch 1 to play in front of the packed stands on Saturday afternoon, which is a little bit of bliss, according to Yates.
“To run out on any field is still a blessing,” he said. “We play the sport because we love the sport, but to run on in front of 45,000 people, even if they are all in fancy dress, is a fantastic few minutes. It is the highlight of my year.”
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