x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Losing Marsters a blow to development of rugby in UAE

New Zealander leaving UAE to join leading provincial union Canterbury

UAE Shaheen coach Wayne Marsters walks with his team after a game at the Abu Dhabi Harlequins Sevens Tournament on November 25, 2011. Silvia Razgova / The National
UAE Shaheen coach Wayne Marsters walks with his team after a game at the Abu Dhabi Harlequins Sevens Tournament on November 25, 2011. Silvia Razgova / The National

UAE rugby has faced a variety of challenges since it took over governance of the game here from the Arabian Gulf at the end of 2010.

It could be about to face its biggest yet, though, when Wayne Marsters takes his leave as rugby manager to return to New Zealand after 14 years here. The game here is about to lose the glue that has held it together for so long.

Marsters will part on good terms with the federation, who rightly see it as a compliment that Canterbury, arguably the leading provincial union in the world, sought the services of one of their employees.

He will be a huge loss to the game in the emirates, though. The change from Arabian Gulf to UAE rugby has brought with it fraught times, so having a conciliator of his amiability has been priceless. If clubs have a query about the constitution of a domestic competition, they call Marsters.

Whenever there has been an availability crisis in the national team – and there have been many – it is Marsters who dips into his contacts book to solve the problem. The time between seeing his number flash on their phones and a player suddenly go from unavailable to available has usually been brief. UAE rugby is also losing its canniest talent-spotter. He gave the likes of Jonny Macdonald, Imad Reyal and Quihen Marais their bows in international play.

He has found gems where there were previously thought to be none, setting the new generation of Emiratis, such as Majid Al Balooshi, on the right path. He will be sorely missed.

pradley@thenational.ae

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