x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Difficult to determine UAE's quality on domestic rugby parameters

Dragons are officially the leading club in West Asia, yet their representation on the national squad for the Cyprus tour does not tally with their dominance.

The Jebel Ali Dragons won the West Asia Cup Final yet have a small ratio in the Cyprus-headed squad. Lee Hoagland / The National
The Jebel Ali Dragons won the West Asia Cup Final yet have a small ratio in the Cyprus-headed squad. Lee Hoagland / The National

Searching for trends between the domestic international games can be a confusing task in the unique environment of UAE rugby.

For instance, you might assume the fact that one of the country's leading clubs are light on front-row forwards would mean the national team might suffer from a similar fate.

Abu Dhabi Harlequins did forfeit their last match of the league season on that basis.

Yet the tour party to Cyprus, where the UAE have a three-day training camp ahead of the Asian Five Nations, is overloaded with props and hookers. Cyprus may struggle to feed their weekend guests, such is the high proportion of big men on tour.

Or another safe assumption might be that the undisputed No 1 club here would provide the lion's share of players for the national team. It does not work like that, though. And it never has.

In the final years of the Arabian Gulf, for example, the side's core was provided by Dubai Exiles - even though the city's oldest club had long since been superseded as its leading force.

Now, Jebel Ali Dragons are officially the leading club in West Asia. They swept the board with three major trophies this season, yet their representation on the national squad for the Cyprus tour does not tally with their dominance of the domestic game.

The disparity is because many of the leading domestic players do not qualify to represent the UAE, which goes to show the newest players involved in league rugby are often the most influential.

pradley@thenational.ae

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