x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Saracens battle Quins for share of capital

The emergence of the Abu Dhabi Saracens is a good thing for the Harlequins. Competition breeds improvement.

Monopolies are rarely a good thing, and accepted wisdom has always suggested that a lack of competition leads to stagnation.

Be that as it may, the Abu Dhabi Harlequins had been bobbing along quite nicely as the only club in the city since year dot in Gulf rugby.

Despite having no one to rival them in the capital, and therefore having first pick on all the rugby players on offer, they had made great strides in recent years, most notably with the move to their lush new grounds at Zayed Sports City at the start of last season.

That was before the Abu Dhabi Saracens, who will become an officially competitive entity today, started agitating for their own share of the rugby market.

Saracens have certainly been causing some ripples already. If the new club achieve even half of their stated ambitions, UAE rugby will be set for a major boon, and the Quins will have a genuine rival for affection.

At the moment, there seems to exist a special, big brother-little brother relationship between them, with the elder speaking in glowing terms about having a new neighbour, and how they can help take up the slack to haul in the Dubai clubs.

That could all change at about 5pm Friday afternoon, however, as the Quins second XV provide the opposition when Saracens play their first competitive match.

Saracens do not want to remain in the second tier competition for long. The Competition Commission should be delighted to hear it.