x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

UAE Rugby Federation parts ways with chief executive Ian Bremner

Chief executive thanked for his efforts as discussions begin to appoint successor, reports Paul Radley.

Ian Bremner, the former chief executive of UAE rugby, has been relieved of his duties by the federation.
Ian Bremner, the former chief executive of UAE rugby, has been relieved of his duties by the federation.

DUBAI // The Emiratisation of the top levels of UAE rugby continues apace after Ian Bremner was relieved of his duties as the chief executive of the Rugby Federation.

It is understood the Irishman was told of the decision on Wednesday, and parted company with immediate effect.

He emailed domestic club chairmen and existing staff at the federation to thank them for their assistance during his nearly three years in office on Sunday morning.

That prompted the federation to issue a one-line press release confirming his departure at 1.30pm.

"UAE Rugby Federation wishes to announce that the contract with Mr Ian Bremner, CEO UAERF has been terminated with immediate effect, by mutual consent," the statement read.

The process for appointing a successor is likely to be discussed over the coming days, when the tour party of players and officials representing the UAE at the first leg of the Asian Sevens Series returns from Malaysia.

Mohammed Abdulrahman Falaknaz, the chairman of the federation who did not travel to Kuala Lumpur as he continues to recuperate from illness, thanked Bremner for his efforts.

He also suggested that the preference would be to have an Emirati administrator as the new chief executive, but acknowledged that the net would be cast wide, regardless of nationality.

"It doesn't matter what the nationality of the new CEO is," Falaknaz said.

"We will look all over. If we find a local person it will even better because the attention of the national authority is always on taking local people to a better standard.

"If we can find somebody then it would [be preferable] but we do not mind working with an expatriate."

The face of the sport here has changed markedly since the end of last season. Duncan Hall, the former Australia player who was the country's first paid performance manager, left his role after 18 months in charge at the end of last season.

He has since been replaced by a 65-year-old Fijian Epeli Lagiloa, whose first assignment has been a chastening one after the national sevens team failed to win a match in Malaysia this weekend.

The national XVs team will have to get used to a diminished status after they were relegated from the top flight of Asian rugby in May.

The make up of the side is likely to differ markedly, too, to reflect the new desire to promote Emirati players.

Eleven UAE nationals were selected for the opening leg of the Sevens Series, and the federation hope the next selection will be entirely free of expatriate players.

"We are living in a country where there is a vision to have Emiratis playing the game - whatever sport it is," said Saood Belshalat, the UAE RF board member who is the longest-serving Emirati rugby administrator. "This is our right."

pradley@thenational.ae

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