Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 July 2020

Abu Dhabi Saracens seek new head coach after Winston Cowie steps down

UAE rugby club are also on the lookout a new home after the closure in July of Al Ghazal Golf Course and its neighbouring grounds.

Winston Cowie has left hs position as head coach of the Abu Dhabi Saracens. Antonie Robertson / The National
Winston Cowie has left hs position as head coach of the Abu Dhabi Saracens. Antonie Robertson / The National

Abu Dhabi Saracens are looking at home and abroad for a new coach, after Winston Cowie stepped down.

The New Zealander vacated the role after one season in charge due to family reasons. It means the club, who were West Asia Premiership champions three seasons ago, are currently homeless and without a head coach.

Despite the problems in a tough summer for Abu Dhabi rugby in general, Jay Danielson, the chairman, is confident they can still compete with the leading sides in the region.

“I have been in contact with a couple of guys both locally and internationally regarding coaching,” Danielson said. “The preference is to stick with a specific coach, rather than player-coaches as we have had in the past.


“It has been a summer of a few knocks, but we had one of our best training sessions ever in terms of numbers on Monday night. There are a huge number of new faces, and we are very confident. We are looking forward to a positive season.”

Talks over whether they can continue playing at Al Ghazal Golf Course remain stalled. The ground and its neighbouring golf course were shut in July, leaving its future as a sports venue unclear. Danielson says it could be up to two months before a definitive answer is granted.

They have been in discussions with Abu Dhabi Cricket, as well as returning to Zayed Sports City to play their home matches. Danielson says he might investigate the possibility of requesting their early season home matches be switched while they attempt to resolve the problem.

“It is frustrating, because training is one thing, but we want a home for our matches,” he said. “It is an ongoing thing. There are not a lot of facilities available, really only two places to play rugby in Abu Dhabi.

“Zayed Sports City [where Abu Dhabi Harlequins play] is not ideal because it would not have that club-house feel that is important to a cross-city rivalry. The on-island, off-island divide is a good one.”

Although Cowie’s primary role with the club was as first-team coach, he also made sporadic appearances for the side. So successful was his return to playing last season, after years spent sidelined by a serious knee injury, he debuted for the UAE in the Asia Rugby Championship in May.

“Due to increased family and work commitments, I regret I’ll be unable to coach the senior Sarries team this year,” Cowie said. “I just have too much on with my three kids under six, after-school clubs every night, and work which involves time in the field.

“I am grateful and proud for the opportunity, and met a great bunch of friends and top community of people. I’ll remain part of the club, and will be helping out with some of the juniors where my daughters will be involved.

“While we didn’t get the results we sought this past year, hand on heart, in every match we were competitive and I could not fault the effort the guys put in.”

Updated: September 12, 2017 04:43 PM



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