x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Gulf still operating on shoestring as end of road nears

As rugby's leading nations prepare to play for Commonwealth gold, the Arabian Gulf continue to do the best they can with their modest resources in their final few months of existence.

DUBAI // As rugby's leading nations prepare to play for Commonwealth gold in India, the Arabian Gulf continue to do the best they can with their modest resources in their final few months of existence. 

December's Dubai Rugby Sevens will be the last competition the collective states of the Gulf will play as a single union. From January 1, the region will be represented by each of its separate nations, because of an International Rugby Board (IRB)-led restructuring of the game in the region.

As has always been the case, the Gulf are having to operate on a shoestring as they prepare for their final assignment. However, they have managed to afford to fly in nine players from various points on the compass, including England, Wales and Ireland. for a training camp in Dubai this weekend. Sean Hurley, the side's captain, is sidelined because of an ankle ligament injury, but the time off has at least given him time to look for new potential sponsors. "We have a budget, but it has been a huge cost this year," Hurley said after the Gulf's warm-up friendly against South Africa at Dubai College on Wednesday.

"I am out looking for sponsorship now. We don't need much. It is a pittance compared to what other teams have. "There has been a lot of interest actually, so hopefully we will get some more money." The Gulf have entered a sevens tournament in Australia in November as part of the build-up to their big farewell. "It is going to be an emotional tournament," Hurley said of this year's Dubai Rugby Sevens. "It will be the last time an Arabian Gulf team ever runs out.

"We are going to finish on a high." This weekend's training camp was organised to coincide with several other international sides staying in Dubai ahead of the Commonwealth Games. The Gulf played warm-up matches against New Zealand, Wales and South Africa this week.

 pradley@thenational.ae