x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Toa will prove handful for London team in fund-raiser

Not content with already being the most star-laden side playing in the Emirates League, Transguard Toa Dubai will call in more heavy hitters, when they play in a fund-raising sevens match in London tomorrow.

DUBAI // Not content with already being the most star-laden side playing in the Emirates League, Transguard Toa Dubai will call in more heavy hitters, when they play in a fund-raising sevens match in London tomorrow. Toa will form the core of - and provide the colours for - a Samoan Legends side to play against a London invitational team at London Welsh's Old Deer Park ground near the banks of the River Thames.

Apollo Perelini, their player-coach, John Mamea-Wilson, the captain, and Trevor Leota, Toa's former Wasps hooker, will be joined by fellow Samoan Test players, such as Junior Paramore. The Dubai side's ranks will be further supplemented by a variety of Polynesian players from England's Super League, which is the top level of rugby league in the United Kingdom. Seven days on from being on opposing sides in rugby league's Grand Final, Ali Lauitiiti, of Leeds Rhinos, and the St Helens players Francis Meli and Maurie Fa'asavali will cross codes and line up in an abridged game for Toa.

The fixture is being staged to promote the "Help us to rebuild paradise appeal", with the mission of raising awareness of the victims of the recent tsunami that devastated parts of Samoa. It is the second part of a cross-continent double header, the first half of which came in the form of a touch rugby tournament at The Sevens in Dubai last weekend. The tsunami relief fund will also be granted 25 per cent of the gate receipts for the ensuing Championship match between the London Welsh side and the Cornish Pirates.

"With so many rugby league players in our team, I just hope they all remember the rules," said Mamea-Wilson. "The cause we are playing for is likely to pull at the heartstrings of Antipodeans living in London as they know what life is like in Samoa." The touring players from Dubai are likely to have weary limbs. Toa were in action in the Gulf Bowl last night against the Dubai Hurricanes second XV. In the recently renamed Danway Gulf Cup, the top tier of competition, this weekend, Muscat face a tough task in arresting their early season struggles.

They host the Premiership champions, Abu Dhabi Harlequins, who are undefeated in the top division this season and who are gunning for success in all competitions. Dubai Dragons, who also retain a 100 per cent record in the Premiership, host Doha at The Sevens this afternoon.