x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE secures Asian rugby full member status

Qais Al Dhalai and Ian Bremner lead a successful bid at the ARFU council in Bangkok, but work towards full IRB status starts now.

UAE rugby is developing quickly both on and off the pitch.
UAE rugby is developing quickly both on and off the pitch.

ABU DHABI // Ian Bremner anticipates the UAE can fast track their progress to gaining full International Rugby Board (IRB) status “without cutting corners”.

The Rugby Association were granted full Asian Rugby Football United (ARFU) membership on Sunday and are now working towards attaining full IRB recognition which will afford them voting rights, attendance at council meetings and play a part in the decision making of the world game.

“It normally takes 18 months but we are hoping to fast track that process without cutting corners,” Bremner, the chief executive, said. “We will be assessed on administration, governance, high performance and growing the game.”

Bremner admits the association are at “level zero” in a few areas and one of the first tasks will be to translate most of their paperwork into English because “it is all in Arabic at present to satisfy government regulations”.

The UAE have been Associate Members of the ARFU since December 2009 and the planning and foresight of the six-man board of directors, since the Arabian Gulf (AGRFU) folded and the UAE was formed, paid dividends at the regional meeting in Thailand on Sunday.

“The board of directors had no background in rugby football union but what they have is unlimited enthusiasm,” Bremner said.

“They have grabbed the reins in superb fashion since the AGRFU disbanded. We have repaid the faith in us shown by the Ministry of Youth & Sport and UAE Olympic Council. We have shown we are an progressive organisation who can comply with very high global standards.

“We just need to build plans on that standards and foundations. The real visibility will be getting young people playing rugby. That will be when we are truly operational.”

Mohammed Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, the chairman of the Rugby Association, said: “We are exceptionally proud with being awarded full membership.

“Through this achievement we are now recognised by our governing body [the Ministry of Youth and Sport] as being a credible association on the international rugby stage. But now our work to maintain that credibility and to gain full IRB status begins.”

Lyn Jones, director of rugby at British School Al Khabairat and former coach of Ospreys, said: "It's great news and another step forward for Rugby in our region, with schools rugby growing and gaining momentum, a critical solid base is being laid for future success' for UAE Rugby Union."

kaffleck@thenational.ae