x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Abu Dhabi provides Common rugby connection

For Alastair Common, an Abu Dhabi Harlequins player, Sunday's match at Emirates Palace was a trip down memory lane.

Abu Dhabi's Alastair Common, left, tackles a Dubai Wasps player at Emirates Palace.
Abu Dhabi's Alastair Common, left, tackles a Dubai Wasps player at Emirates Palace.

Sunday night's match at the Emirates Palace hotel between London Wasps and Harlequins was all about building the foundations of new relationships.

For many, however, it also represented the chance to catch up with some familiar faces and relive the good old days.

During the curtain-raiser friendly, Trevor Leota, 35, the Dubai Wasps captain, charged around the manicured playing field like a colt, so enthusiastic was he at playing in front of his old friends, teammates and supporters from Wasps.

He was not the only one who got the chance to revisit his youth. For Alastair Common, the Abu Dhabi Harlequins back, the fixture provided the chance to reminisce about the day he beat the English Harlequins in a Heineken Cup tie.

After finding his route to the first-team blocked by a raft of Scotland internationals at his first professional club, the Edinburgh Hawks, Common spent two years with Benetton Treviso, Italy's leading club.

He was part of the side when they became the first Italian team to win on English soil, beating Harlequins in the 1999-2000 campaign.

However, not long after that heady day, the Scottish centre had fallen out of love with the game, as he started to look to life after professional sport.

"Rugby was a good life, but was never something I'd be able to retire on," said Common, who now works as an architectural adviser in Dubai. "For four years I played semi-professionally, working full-time, and after that I was tired and not enjoying it any more. So I completely stopped."

After a four-year hiatus, he started playing again this season for Abu Dhabi, where he originally relocated in 2008, and he is glad to be back.

"When I hung up my boots, I thought I would never go back and play. I was convinced in my mind I never would," Common said.

"When I moved to Abu Dhabi, I bought a pair of boots with the intention of playing again, and they just sat in the box for two years.

"This year I decided it was time to start doing something. My body was starting to show noticeable differences.

"My wife pushed me back into playing. It gave me the bug back."

Common lands back in Dubai this morning after travelling from working in Germany this week, and expects to join Abu Dhabi for their encounter with Bahrain this afternoon.