x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Leota buzzes as Dubai Wasps win

Paul Radley talks to the former Samoa hooker after his new Dubai outfit lifts the UAE Conference Cup.

Dubai Wasps, a club only formed late last summer, carried off silverware at the first available opportunity when they won the UAE Conference Cup title with a 19-7 victory over the Dubai Hurricanes second string last Friday.

Given his glowing rugby CV, the cup ranks as a minor triumph for the club's founder and captain Trevor Leota, the former London Wasps and Samoa hooker.

He takes great satisfaction from the fact his club already have a thriving core of 15 Arab nationals.

The new UAE national team, which will take over from the Arabian Gulf in international representative rugby when they play their first Asian Five Nations fixture in April, hope to call on Emirati players for the first time.

The greatest choice of players will come from Wasps, who have the largest contingent of nationals of any side in the UAE.

"We started with no one about four months ago, then all of a sudden all the boys started turning up and it has worked out well," Leota said. "To finish up with silverware is great, especially for our local boys, who have been loving it.

"Next season we want to have two teams, as well as a minis and youth section, so we are getting bigger and bigger."

The Wasps' maiden cup triumph deprived the Hurricanes the first of what they had hoped would be four trophies as a club between now and the end of the winter campaign.

After they claimed a 57-7 win over a depleted Dubai Exiles at the Sevens on Friday, their first XV are still eyeing silverware on three fronts.

Victory meant the Hurricanes are now one point clear in the Gulf Top Six with one match left, with the title to be decided between them and second-placed Doha.

They will also play off against the Dragons in the UAE Premiership final on March 4.

"The club has pulled itself back together after two bad seasons," Steve Holohan, the Hurricanes coach, said. "Everybody wants to win something, we want to be recognised as the top side in the Gulf again."

 

pradley@thenational.ae