x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Singapore ideal model for impatient UAE’s rugby federation

The UAE Rugby Federation are keen for their national team to have such heavy Emirati representation. They have a good template to follow.

Singapore have nearly half the side in home-grown players and prefer not to be reliant on expatriates. Sarah Dea / The National / April 23, 2014
Singapore have nearly half the side in home-grown players and prefer not to be reliant on expatriates. Sarah Dea / The National / April 23, 2014

If the morale-sapped UAE are ever persuaded that transition can be successful, then their conquerors on Wednesday provide the perfect narrative.

Singapore tumbled down the divisions after one campaign in the top flight, in which they even gave Japan a decent enough game.

It was the sort of slump the UAE are experiencing, after back to back demotions – and the reasons are similar. Both nations want to create a side that reflects substantial indigenous involvement and not be reliant on expatriates.

On the evidence of this week’s Test, Singapore are making a success of it. Nearly half of their squad are Singapore nationals. Crucially, there was no difference between the skills, fitness or game sense of the different nationalities. All were worth their place.

“The Singaporean guys who are in the team are very much there on merit,” said Peter McFeely, the Northern Irishman who captained Singapore.

“Without getting controversial there are obviously issues on quotas in both countries. I think in the past – I don’t want to be disparaging about anyone who has played – but there has been a push for certain guys.

“But now it’s very much the case that everyone is there on merit and we’ve benefited from having a few years together.”

The UAE Rugby Federation are impatient for their national team to have such heavy Emirati representation. They have a good template to follow.

“I think that [Singapore] is what we have to aim for,” said Adam Telford, the UAE captain.

pradley@thenational.ae

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