x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Paul Beard is UAE rugby's loss but Qatar's gain

There may be quality No 10s in the side now but it would have been better had the Abu Dhabi-born fly-half been around.

DUBAI // With Murray Strang's flight ticket booked for this weekend's trip to Japan, the national team should cope better with the loss of one prime fly-half better than in times past.

The UAE may have solved the chronic problem of a dearth of quality No 10s with the recent advent of Andy Russell and Strang's eligibility to represent the national team.

However, there was still a feeling that one had got away on Friday night, after Paul Beard provided a command performance to guide Qatar to the Asian Five Nations Division Four title at The Sevens.

Beard was born and raised in Abu Dhabi, played the Dubai Exiles for years, and represented the Arabian Gulf when he was resident in the UAE.

When the collective Gulf union made way for the UAE last year, though, the Englishman opted to represent his latest country of residence, having moved to Doha with his job in recruitment.

Now he could be set to move back to Dubai, but he remains committed to aiding Qatar's march up the ladder of Asian rugby.

Beard kicked eight goals in Qatar's 67-0 demolition of Lebanon in the Division Four final, and only missed his first attempt after running most of the length of the field to score his second try.

"I may be moving back to the UAE, but having been capped for Qatar, I would love to keep playing for them despite where I go," Beard said.

"The Philippines won Division One this year, and they have gone from division to division to division. That is something we are aiming at doing.

"It is something I really want to help with, and I hope I get the chance to do that. I want to keep playing for them."

pradley@thenational.ae

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