x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Omani displays what UAE national rugby team lacks

Taif Al Delamie is hoping to be cleared by the International Rugby Board to play for the UAE national side, but the longer he waits to hear the more disheartened he gets it won't happen.

Trevor Leota of the Dubai Wasps finds his path blocked by Taif Al Delamie of the Jebel Ali Dragons. Al Delamie's own trials in his application to the International Rugby Board to play for the UAE national team has left him in limbo.
Trevor Leota of the Dubai Wasps finds his path blocked by Taif Al Delamie of the Jebel Ali Dragons. Al Delamie's own trials in his application to the International Rugby Board to play for the UAE national team has left him in limbo.

 

DUBAI // Taif Al Delamie, the Jebel Ali Dragons centre, provided further evidence of just what the UAE national team are missing with a hat-trick in his side's victory over the Dubai Wasps on Friday.

The Rugby Association are already well aware of his merits, which is why they have been lobbying the International Rugby Board (IRB) for special dispensation to select him for the national team.

As an Omani national who has lived for much of his life in Ireland, Al Delamie is ineligible to play for the UAE as per IRB rules.

However, he has a strong association with rugby in this country, having been the first Arab national to captain the Arabian Gulf at the Dubai Rugby Sevens, as well as the Asian Five Nations.

When the Gulf was dissolved at the end of 2010, the UAE assumed its position in Asian competition.

Yet, with Oman unlikely to be ready to field a national team in IRB competition for some time yet, Al Delamie was faced with the prospect of never playing international rugby again.

His ability in the midfield would be a major boon to the national team.

Both he and the governing body for the game here were positive they could persuade the IRB to consider his case to be a special circumstance, such as when David Clark, the Bahrain-based No 8, was awarded eligibility last year.

To prove his commitment, as well as to be nearer to his parents in Muscat, Al Delamie quit his job as a fitness instructor in Ireland last year, and relocated to Dubai. His application is still pending, and he is starting to lose hope.

"I thought I was a dead cert, but it is just going on and on, even though I have given them all the paperwork they want from me," Al Delamie said after his three-try effort at The Sevens.

"It was not the sole reason I moved back here, but the chance of playing for the UAE was a huge draw." Al Delamie says he has also been instructed to stay away from national team training ahead of the Asian Five Nations campaign at the end of this season.

"I have wanted to go down to training, but I was kept off the emails, and they said they did not want me there unless I had qualified," Al Delamie said.

"It is so disappointing that I haven't been able to get the seal of approval."

Al Delamie's haul on Friday - he was bettered by Ian Overton's four scores - was part of a nine-try victory for the Dragons, which sets up a potential title-decider in the UAE Premiership next week.

They will face their Dubai rivals, the Hurricanes, who remain undefeated in the defence of their title after they comfortably beat the Dubai Exiles.

 

pradley@thenational.ae