x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Reading all about it sometimes inspires a rugby crowd

The spat between Dubai Hurricanes and Jebel Ali Dragons before the UAE Rugby Premiership final was no bad thing.

Andy Russel, centre, of the Jebel Ali Dragons breaks tackles from Dubai Hurricanes. The Dragons defeated the Hurricanes 37-8 for the UAE Premiership on November 8 in Dubai. Charles Crowell / for The National
Andy Russel, centre, of the Jebel Ali Dragons breaks tackles from Dubai Hurricanes. The Dragons defeated the Hurricanes 37-8 for the UAE Premiership on November 8 in Dubai. Charles Crowell / for The National

Fortune smiled on Ross Mills, the Jebel Ali Dragons coach, when he was preparing his pep talk before last weekend’s UAE Premiership final.

Instead of tub-thumping, he was able to print out some literature that questioned the status of his team as the best in West Asia and address it to his players.

“No team-talk required – just pin the offending headlines to the dressing-room wall,” is the sort of thing you usually hear in relation to Premier League football. Not UAE rugby.

He was lucky to have two articles to hand out.

In the not-too-distant past, preparation like that would have meant going to the library and sifting through microfilm and newspaper archives to see if there were any mention at all of the oval-ball sport.

Russ Huxtable suffered a fair bit of opprobrium for bullishly touting the merits of his Dubai Hurricanes side in the lead-up to Friday.

Even more so after his side then failed to follow the script by playing the final as if the Hurricanes had yet to be introduced to each other.

He probably did the game a favour, though. Sport, not just of the niche variety that rugby remains in this country, needs the colour provided by people who speak their mind, albeit with the requisite level of respect.

Maybe the domestic game needs a bit of Oscar Wilde in its life – remembering there is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

pradley@thenational.ae

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