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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

UAE U18 rugby girls to continue development curve in France

The national Under 18 girls team will become the first representative side to profit from the UAE Rugby Federation’s affiliation with their French equivalent, when they train and play in Paris this week.

The UAE's Hamda Waleed, centre, makes a run through the Uzbekistan defence during the Under 18 Girls International Tournament at the Dubai Rugby Sevens in December 2016.
The UAE's Hamda Waleed, centre, makes a run through the Uzbekistan defence during the Under 18 Girls International Tournament at the Dubai Rugby Sevens in December 2016.

The national Under 18 girls team will become the first representative side to profit from the UAE Rugby Federation’s affiliation with their French equivalent, when they train and play in Paris this week.

The governing body for the sport here penned an agreement with the French Rugby Federation in May to share resources to help develop players and match officials in both countries.

The age-group side, who became the first all-Emirati female team to represent the UAE in rugby last December, are the primary beneficiaries of the link up.

Under the guidance of Apollo Perelini, the coach, they will train for five days at the National Rugby Centre in Marcoussis, in the southern suburbs of Paris.

They will then play in the Paris World Games, a multi-sport event in which sevens rugby is included, next weekend.

“This is the first time in our partnership with French rugby that they will be hosting a team in Marcoussis,” Qais Al Dhalai, the UAERF’s secretary general, said. “It will be the first of many, for sure.”

The trip to Paris is part of the UAE’s preparations for the second Asia Rugby Sevens Under 18, which will be hosted in Dubai in December.

That competition’s debut at Dubai Sports City last year marked the first time the country had been represented by Emirati female players.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, the chairman of the federation, addressed the players at a final training session before they left for France.

“He told the players we are not looking at results, but we are looking for an improvement,” Al Dhalai said.

“The players have been told this is all part of the preparation for the tournament in Dubai.

"They are well aware of the commitment they need to perform in terms of discipline, commitment and performance. We have our goal that we need to perform well.”

The federation hope to send more representative teams to Marcoussis in the future, with France also scheduled to play a Test match in the UAE as part of the agreement.

“The overall future of our sport will come through its development into new territories,” Bernard Laporte, the president of the French federation, said when the deal was announced in May.

“This is crucial if we want to expand its popularity and the number of players to last. This international development has to come through the Middle East.”