Leading domestic rugby players join forces in Dubai to prepare for Ibiza 10s and are looking forward to the early June competition, reports Paul Radley.
Ibiza 10s proof that more rugby is always better in the UAE
A group of players, the UAE would doubtlessly be grateful to have at their disposal, have continued to train since the end of the domestic season in readiness for a new challenge.
The Goal Attained Select team have been training twice a week at the hockey field in Dubai Sports City as they prepare for the inaugural Ibiza 10s in early June.
The scratch side comprises leading players from Jebel Ali Dragons, the UAE's No 1 club, as well as Dubai Hurricanes and Dubai Exiles.
It includes a variety of players who are outstanding at the domestic level yet are ineligible for UAE selection, as well as some who have chosen to make themselves unavailable for national duty.
Chris Gregory, the Hurricanes captain and former Arabian Gulf regular, is one of the players who has opted out of trying for a UAE selection, yet he is still keen to take part in the new venture this summer.
"We were all getting fat waiting around in the summer, so we all thought it would be a good idea to start training for this," Gregory said.
"The more we have done, the more we have enjoyed it, and the more we are looking forward to going to it now."
The team's enthusiasm is well-founded. The standard of competition at the new competition promises to be high, with sides made up of players from Racing Metro, the French Top 14 club, as well players from the Spanish national team set to compete.
The Dubai contingent should be competitive, too, given the standard of players they have available to pick from, plus the fact that Chester Williams, the former South Africa winger, will be jetting in to coach them in the lead-up to the competition.
"It is an opportunity for players away from the UAE setup to have a crack at playing," Gregory said.
Bruce King, the organiser of the Goal Attained Select side, also hopes the new project will have lasting benefits for UAE rugby.
King, the Dubai Exiles assistant coach, wants to create a training scheme which will complement those already in place here.
"Our future aim is to house a sevens or 10s team here in Dubai for up to five months of the year," King said.
"We want to create opportunities for less-fortunate players to get a chance to showcase themselves alongside existing and ex-internationals and professionals."
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