x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Dubai break pays off for Sharks' chief Kingsley Jones

The former Wales flanker has been part of Wooden Spoon Vets side playing in the International Veterans competition in Dubai.

The Arabian Gulf's James Love fights for the ball with Samoa's Simaika Mikaele. 

Jaime Puebla / The National
The Arabian Gulf's James Love fights for the ball with Samoa's Simaika Mikaele. Jaime Puebla / The National

DUBAI // Skipping an Aviva Premiership fixture and flying to Dubai to play in a veterans charity side could be deemed a dereliction of responsibility by Kingsley Jones, the Sale Sharks director of rugby.

Given that all he would have been doing would have been watching the snow fall had he stayed at home, the former Wales flanker will deem his jaunt to the UAE as time well spent.

Sale's scheduled match against Gloucester this weekend was postponed because of the inclement weather afflicting the UK.

Meanwhile, nearly 6,000km away, Jones has been part of Wooden Spoon Vets side playing in the International Veterans competition in Dubai.

"It is the first time in six and a half years of being at Sale that I've been able to take a break during the season as I have more staff there now," he said. "The game has been cancelled anyway, so it worked out perfectly.

"It was a great opportunity. We are having a good time playing in the sun, playing hard, but the big thing is to raise awareness of the charity."

Wooden Spoon, a rugby charity who raise money for disadvantaged children, have three sides at this weekend's tournament, with Jones's vets side joined by an outfit in the International Women and one in the International Open.

Going into today's semi-final, the vets side have a 100 per cent record and are eyeing the crown of another children's charity, Christina Noble, the defending International Veterans champions.

Jones has been able to dovetail playing duties with scouting talent, not least that of his son, Rhys, who was outstanding for the Wales sevens side in the IRB competition yesterday.

Jones already has picked up one player from the sevens circuit, last season's IRB world sevens player of the Year, Mikaele Pesamino.

The Samoan winger has yet to make his debut for Sale because of a delay in his application for a work visa, and the club gave him leave to join up with his national team in Dubai.

"I'll get the chance to watch Pesamino and also some other players while I'm here and do some networking," Jones said.

The International Marauders, which is effectively South Africa's second-string sevens side, laid down a marker in the International Invitational tournament.

The Marauders, who are coached by Marius Schoeman, a former stalwart of the Boks sevens side, thrashed Enisey STM 61-0 then beat France Development 12-0 in their pool matches.

The defending champions of the Gulf Men's competition, Dubai Dragons, stuttered through to today's knock-out stages as they were beaten 26-14 by Al Ain Amblers yesterday.

pradley@thenational.ae