x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Plenty of over-time in coaching UAE's sevens

If he is going to succeed, whoever does land the job as head rugby coach of the UAE's sevens programme will probably be over-worked not under.

The UAE Rugby Association clearly mean business, having begun the process of looking for a professional coach to head up their sevens programme full-time.

Not so long ago, the idea of having a full-time coach in situ, for a version of the sport which is only really played on a social basis a couple of times per year here, was fanciful. Mike Lunjevich, a lawyer who was in charge when the Arabian Gulf played in the 2009 Sevens World Cup, was often frustrated by the laissez-faire attitude that pervaded the abbreviated version here back then.

The amateur game will always carry with it limitations, however, and when he stepped down from the role after that tournament, Lunjevich reflected that a full-time replacement would be under-employed for too much of the time.

Now the landscape is different. When Sevens was accepted as an Olympic sport, due in no small part to the impression events such as the World Cup and the Dubai Sevens made on the International Olympic Committee, the goalposts moved. Now sides can no longer be flooded with expatriates, as only passport holders can represent a nation at the Games.

Thus, the local community needs to be mobilised out of necessity. With no history of rugby among Emiratis, there is significant ground to make up if the UAE ever want to play at an Olympics.

If he is going to succeed, whoever does land the job as head coach of the UAE's sevens programme will probably be over-worked not under.