x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Another divide will be felt at domestic rugby union finale

With scheduling like that, maybe it is a good job no Emiratis play Premiership club rugby, writes Paul Radley.

Dubai Hurricanes' Chris Gregory, left, will be one of several local stalwarts who will be absent in Friday's domestic league final. Sean Moore / Elite Steps
Dubai Hurricanes' Chris Gregory, left, will be one of several local stalwarts who will be absent in Friday's domestic league final. Sean Moore / Elite Steps

The disconnect between club and international rugby in this country will be shown up again this weekend with the national squad jetting off for a tournament in Singapore while the grand finale to the domestic season is taking place.

So much for it being a showpiece.

With scheduling like that, maybe it is a good job no Emiratis play Premiership club rugby.

Of course, even the best-laid plans can come to nought. Taif Al Delamie took over as the skipper of Jebel Ali Dragons in the summer, yet he is also missing the Premiership finale as he is abroad.

And Mr Dubai Hurricanes, the club captain Chris Gregory, is also absent as he is attending his brother’s wedding. Given the fact Ian Gregory is also a club great, the Hurricanes will be missing a sizeable chunk of their would-be cheer squad on Friday night.

For the UAE squad touring Singapore for the fourth and final leg of the Asian Sevens Series, it is the latest chance for the emerging Emirati players to see how far they have come.

The Rugby Federation’s all-Emirati selection policy for sevens has led to some tough times on this series, but they believe signs of progress are there.

“Since they brought this new idea, it’s been tough,” Adel Al Hendi, the Abu Dhabi Harlequins teenager, was quoted as saying.

“That is the only way forward to try and compete in Asian Games. We have to start somewhere without delaying it.”

pradley@thenational.ae

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