The 22-man squad that will represent UAE Rugby’s inaugural representation in the opening round of the highly popular HSBC Asian 5 Nations (HSBC A5N) rugby tournament has been named. The UAE squad will square-up against 42nd IRB ranked Sri Lanka at Colombo’s Ceylonese Rugby and Football Club on Saturday at 16:00 IST.
Consisting of five past A5N players the squad carries with them, and onto the pitch, the new flag of UAE Rugby. None are more aware of the importance this match holds for the future of the team than coach Bruce Birtwistle. “Our training preparations have been going very well and I’m confident with the fitness and the aptitude of the team selected. A number of the squad-members recently had great exposure by playing in an international away game (against Morocco) which gave us a very solid foundation to assess and refine our tactics and strategies, we took a lot away from that encounter” said Birtwistle. “The combination of players with previous A5N experience with those hungry for the opportunity create a formidable force, but our opponents at no time can be underestimated. I am particularly pleased that Renier (Els) makes his return after absence from the Morocco squad and I am very confident he will add integral value to the depth of the squad facing Sri Lanka” he added.
The 2011 HSBC A5N Top 5 division will, as per previous meets, be held on consecutive weekends starting April 23. The HSBC A5N tournament prides itself by offering international competition as well as development support for eligible ARFU unions, this has opened the door for UAE Rugby to participate in the tournament, it also provides an outstanding opportunity for them to make their mark on international rugby.
UAE Rugby’s CEO Ian Bremner emphasised the importance and uniqueness of participating in the 2011 A5N tournament. “It is actually the first time members of this squad will play competitively for their country, rather than a region, on the international stage at a tournament of this calibre. We are very proud to announce that two Emirati players have been selected to join the squad and take the field on Saturday” stated Bremner. “We are well aware of the opportunity that has been presented by ARFU and we will be watching every play intently, our performance against Sri Lanka and as our opening match is of the utmost importance to our position and reputation in international rugby”.
From Saturday April 23 the HSBC Asian 5 Nations will roll through until May 21. The home games for the UAE will be held at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports Stadium on April 29 with UAE up against 27th ranked Kazakhstan, and at Dubai’s popular 7he Sevens complex on May 13 where the UAE will square-up against 13th ranked and defending champions Japan. Additionally, three of the four UAE games will be televised live; UAE v Sri Lanka April 23, UAE v Japan May 13 and UAE v Hong Kong May 21.
The 22-man squad that will face-off against Sri Lanka this Saturday, under the captaincy of Mike Cox-Hill is;
Andrew Millar – Dubai Dragons
Carl Von Rosenveldt – Dubai Exiles
Chris Jones Griffiths – Abu Dhabi Harlequins
Dan Boatwright – Dubai Hurricanes
Dan Heal – Dubai Dragons
David Clouston – Dubai Hurricanes
David Vittes – Dubai Exiles
Duncan Murray – Dubai Hurricanes
John Beeton – Dubai Exiles
Jonathan Grady – Dubai Dragons
Lloyd Budd – Dubai Exiles
Mike Cox-Hill – Dubai Exiles
Ali Mohammed – Dubai Wasps
Mohanned Shaker – Dubai Wasps
Renier Els – Abu Dhabi Harlequin
Scott Kerr – Dubai Dragons
Sean Hurley – Dubai Dragons
Simon Osbourne – Dubai Hurricanes
Stephan Imbert – Dubai Frogs
Steve Smith – Dubai Hurricanes
Stuart Quinn – Dubai Exiles
Tim Fletcher – Dubai Dragons