x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Pain now will lead to gain later for UAE national rugby team

From the look of the tour party the UAE is bringing to the Asian Five Nations at Hong Kong, there may be reason for long-term optimism thanks to a small group of young, talented, UAE-born players. Paul Radley explains.

Emirati player Cyrus Homayoun, right, is one reason the UAE national rugby team may have a bright future in store.
Emirati player Cyrus Homayoun, right, is one reason the UAE national rugby team may have a bright future in store.

Given the resources available to the respective sides in this season's Asian Five Nations, it does not take a massive leap of imagination to expect the UAE to suffer a little short-term pain.

However, from the look of the tour party in Hong Kong, there may be reason for long-term optimism - namely the presence in the squad of a small group of young, talented, UAE-born players. With an eye on future involvement in Asian Games and - in the very distant future - Olympics, the UAE Rugby Federation are making commendable attempts to bring Emiratis to the sport.

However, deep-rooted local interest does not start and end with passport holders. Luke Mohring, the winger who will make his XV debut for UAE this weekend, was born in Al Wasl Hospital in Dubai. When he was first picked in the national sevens team, back in 2011, he said: "I feel like I've got a lot in common with the Emirati boys. It means a lot to us."

He is not the only one who must see this country as home rather than a place to pass through.

Jonathan Greenwood, the young hooker who has been part of the senior squad for some time now, was born in Abu Dhabi, plays for Dubai Hurricanes and was first picked for the UAE while playing for Sharjah Wanderers.

And the full-back Cyrus Homayoun, the lone Emirati in the squad, has been a regular in the national team since its first matches in 2011.

These players will feel plenty of passion for the shirt, no matter what colour their passports are.

 

pradley@thenational.ae

 

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE