The UAE National Rugby team departed Dubai today for Sri Lanka, where it will kickstart a new era for the UAE game with its first appearance on the world stage.
The 15s team – playing under the newly formed UAE Rugby Association (UAERA) – will play its inaugural international match in the HSBC Asian Five Nations tournament.
Led by captain Mike Cox-Hill, the team – sponsored by Emirates, the Official Airline of UAERA and its National teams – departed Dubai International with the carrier this morning for Colombo.
The side – featuring two UAE Nationals – will play against Sri Lanka in the opening round of the HSBC Asian Five Nations tournament on 23rd April.
“This match is one that we have been tirelessly working towards and it is a very proud moment,” said UAERA Chairman Mohammad Abdulrahman Falaknaz. “The team faces a tough task, they now play under the flag of their country for the first time and, as a newly formed team, the pressure is heavily on them to perform,” added Mr Falaknaz. “Each individual has taken on this challenge and grasped it firmly. We are looking forward to a tight, mature game.”
“Emirates is honoured to be flying the team to Sri Lanka for what will be a historic moment in the history of UAE rugby,” said Ahmed Khoory, Emirates’ Senior Vice President Commercial Operations, Gulf, Middle East and Iran. “Emirates is committed to the growth of rugby - both on a local and global level - and we are proud to be involved during this this momentous stage in the development of the UAE National team,” added Mr Khoory.