x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

UAE Rugby Association targeting top coach

A full-time candidate to replace Birtwistle could emerge from those who find themselves out of work after World Cup.

Apollo Perelini, the coach of Dubai Wasps, top, and Chester Williams (next slide) have been linked with the UAE coaching job.
Apollo Perelini, the coach of Dubai Wasps, top, and Chester Williams (next slide) have been linked with the UAE coaching job.

ABU DHABI // The chief executive of the Rugby Association has declared the new coach of the national team will be appointed on a full-time basis and the prospective candidate could be recruited from one of the sides at the Rugby World Cup.

The UAE are without a coach after Bruce Birtwistle announced last month he will return to New Zealand after two years in charge of the Arabian Gulf and then the newly formed UAE side.

Ian Bremner, the chief executive, has received plenty of global interest in the position but plans to formally advertise the vacancy which he describes as "very important to our progress".

Chester Williams, the former South Africa international and ex-coach of the Springbok sevens team, and Apollo Perelini, the coach of Dubai Wasps, have both been linked with the job, which will be significantly upgraded from part-time coach to full-time performance manager.

Asked when he hoped to make an appointment, Bremner said: "Ideally tomorrow but we must be realistic in this process and do our due diligence.

"We will advertise globally and the candidate must clearly have 15s and sevens experience.

"They have got to be able to develop the game here, build up performance and develop pathways.

"We've not got an Under 18, U20 or A squad feeding into adult population."

A raft of southern hemisphere Super 15 players will end their contracts with their home unions after the World Cup in October and head to Europe, particularly France, for inflated salaries and to broaden their horizons.

Bremner hopes the end of the four-year World Cup cycle could also herald the availability of several coaches seeking a fresh challenge.

"A number of contracts will come to an end before or after the World Cup and that should present a number of high-quality candidates," Bremner said.

"It is a very important appointment for our progression and a smashing opportunity for the right candidate. It's a chance to make a difference."

Bremner felt Birtwistle performed "a fantastic job" in establishing the UAE as a respected side in Asian rugby and guiding them to

third place in this year's Asian Five Nations.

"The Asian Five Nations was a very valuable experience for us," Bremner said.

"But had we had our time again, we would do things a lot differently.

"We would start much earlier in terms of planning and playing. We need to have a detailed look at how we prepared and look at starting before Christmas instead of after.

"We need more time in the gym as it was a testing experience for a lot of our players.

"We also need to work on marketing and promoting the game. We hardly scratched the surface on that front.

"We need to mobilise the rugby and non-rugby-playing public."

Bremner will hope to tap into the crowds of 50,000 per day who are attracted to the annual Dubai Sevens.

The event falls under the umbrella of Emirates Airline, and Bremner revealed the Rugby Association will petition the International Rugby Broad (IRB) to seek more involvement in their home event.

"We are in discussions with the IRB on how we can contribute to that event," Bremner said.

"They are assessing the capability of what part we can play but we would like to contribute."

Bremner also hopes the UAE can assume the place of the disbanded Arabian Gulf at the event. "The IRB are assessing that. Are we good enough.

"The last thing we want with new sponsors and a new organisation is to get beat by 100 points in 14 minutes. How to prove our capability to participate in this year's event."