x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Expatriate Mohring feels like an Emirati among rugby teammates

The winger, born to New Zealand and British parents, tells Paul Radley he finds himself a lot in common with the UAE nationals.

The core of emerging Emirati players are learning the ropes in the sevens format.
The core of emerging Emirati players are learning the ropes in the sevens format.

UAE rugby may be in the throes of a drive to attract UAE nationals to the sport, but it is not just Emirati players who feel a deep-rooted affiliation with the country.

Luke Mohring, the UAE sevens wing, was born in Al Wasl hospital to British and New Zealand parents, first learnt to play rugby at Dubai Exiles at age four, and has lived here for much of his life.

He says he was honoured to get the chance to represent the country of his birth, having been handed his international debut at the start of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series.

"It is a privilege to get the chance to represent the country," Mohring, 23, a digital sales manager, said.

"I feel like I've got a lot in common with the Emirati boys and it means a lot to us.

"Getting on a plane and walking through the airport wearing your Fly Emirates gear, it feels pretty special. In New Zealand [where he went to university] I would never have got this opportunity."

Mohring's sevens baptism was a tough one. The Shanghai Sevens, which was the first leg on the Asian series, was his first experience of the format at any level, let alone internationally.

He was not the only one, with the core of emerging Emirati players also still learning the ropes of the abbreviated format, and results reflected the side's inexperience.

The UAE head to Borneo for the second leg of the series next weekend knowing much needs to be done to convince the International Rugby Board they warrant a place at their home tournament in Dubai in December.

It would be hard to question the commitment of any of the UAE sevens squad members, though, if the condition of Brad Barker at Tuesday evening's training session in Zabeel Park was anything to go by. Barker, the Dubai Hurricanes centre, pushed himself to vomiting point during a relentless training match.

Sympathy was hardly forthcoming. It is not a "big boys" training session unless someone is sick, was the general consensus of the rest of the squad.

The national team's results in the Asian series are being monitored by the IRB, who will decide whether they are fit to compete against the game's leading nations at the Dubai Rugby Sevens in December.

"Now we have a better understanding of the standard within Asian rugby competitions," Ian Bremner, the Rugby Association chief executive said.

"This is also a different tournament format. With three games on the first day we have a better chance to hit form and show a bit of staying power.

"We are looking to significantly up the performance. We can definitely perform better than we did in Shanghai."

 

pradley@thenational.ae


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