Director of Rugby’s Welcome to 2019/2020 Season

It is my pleasure to welcome the Sarries Family, old and new, to the 2019/20 Season! A lot has gone on behind the scenes since the end of last season. I’d like to say in the ‘off season’, but to be honest for the committee and many others there really hasn’t been one!

This season sees the Abu Dhabi Saracens Rugby Club better prepared than ever before. As I’ve said many times, and will continue to do so, rugby clubs exist for rugby players. It is my job, and pleasure, to ensure our players are given every opportunity to be the best they can be by providing all resources within our means to achieve this.

As always, our mantra of ‘club, team, me’ defines a Saracens Rugby Player. Rugby is bigger and better than all of us. There are few, if any, games that demand so much of a person physically, mentally and socially. It is called Rugby ‘UNION’ which means we exist within this club to look after each other. We put the needs of our Sarries Family before those of ourselves. Rugby challenges every aspect of us and this season, like others, will test every one of us.

Many will go through challenging personal matters, some will be frustrated, and some will be excited and happy. OUR Sarries Rugby UNION will always be there to stand behind and support every Saracen. Remember, OUR club and YOUR team is what gives you the support that defines our club.

One club, one family.

With all that said, it is my pleasure to formally introduce you to the coaching team and expectations for this upcoming season.

It is my privilege to remain as Director of Rugby / Head Coach. This is something I’m extremely passionate, proud and committed to. Since joining Sarries in 2013, coaching in 2014, and taking over the role of Director of Rugby and Head Coach in 2016, I believe the initiatives and direction myself and the committee(s) have worked towards are truly bearing fruit today.

Luca Mene has once again eagerly accepted the position of Ladies Team Coach. Luca’s personality and passion for the Ladies’ Team is truly inspiring and shares our combined goal of lifting a trophy this season.

This season we will see a new addition to the Ladies’ coaching team. Siphato Quinisile (AKA: Phanta), from South Africa, will be assisting Luca. Phanta’s experience comes from top level provincial rugby for the Lions in South Africa, as well as much experience playing in the UAE Premiership.

For the Men’s Team, I am proud and excited to welcome Jason Brown, Steve De Maré and Farrell Jacobs as Assistant Coaches.

Jason Brown who grew up in Pontypridd, South Wales will be our backline coach. As a player he played alongside the likes of Neil Jenkins at Pontypridd RFC, and then Rhydyfelin RFC before joining the Royal Air Force in 1990. In addition, he was selected to represent County level in Wales. Other accolades include U21s for the Royal Air Force and Chippenham RFC. Unfortunately, Jason had to end his playing career due to an injury at the age of 25 years old. On the positive side, this injury then allowed the making of a young coach as he completed his IRB Level 3 in 2003, and quickly moved on as a Backs Coach for Treorchy RFC. After this, he was appointed Head Coach for the RAF Wolves Divisional team where he won consecutive seasons. In 2007 he was appointed Head Coach for the RAF Academy, leading them to unprecedented success by winning the George Crawford Cup and the Buckinghamshire Trophy the following year. Jason then went on to become Backs Coach to the Welsh RAF Seniors. During these years he was appointed Head Coach to the Combined Services for the UK Military where he was victorious at Twickenham Stadium two out of three years. After leaving the RAF, Jason went on to become the Backs Coach of the Welsh side, Taffs Well, winning the Welsh Division 3 as Champions and a narrowly beaten finalist in the Welsh Bowl at the Principality Stadium.

Steve De Maré who joins us from Belgium will be our second team coach. In Belgium, Steve was coaching First Grade standard in the respective European Leagues. As a player, Steve began his career after a mis-placed bet at a bar in 1998! From there he remained a one-club-man playing for 9 Heusden Zolder and relished playing in the second and back row, then eventually playing for the Belgium national team. Steve played for undefeated teams, winning titles until his playing career came to an end in 2010 when his coaching began. As a coach, Steve holds his IRB Level 2 and began coaching Colts teams and was quickly promoted to the clubs first grade ladies team. In addition to his achievements, Steve recently attended an international coaching masterclass by the Belgium national coach. Steve said “No matter how talented and good you are, this is the ultimate team sport, and teams are formed on and off the pitch.” We think Steve will make a great addition to the Sarries family as this is what we are all about!

Last, but not least, we also welcome Farrell Jacobs to the coaching side of the Sarries. Farrell has spent the last two years playing on the pitch, but due to injury last season he will be stepping to the sidelines to help as Forwards Coach. Farrell, from South Africa, played first grade Premiership rugby in Cape Town, as well as earning provincial honours. He began his coaching at the University of Cape Town and now holds his IRB Level 2. We’re sad to see him leave the front row, but look forward to him bringing his valuable experience to the club.

This year we have entered two Sarries teams into the Dubai Sevens Rugby Tournament; Men’s Gulf Division 1 (the same division in which we are playing in the regular season) and the Ladies Gulf Open. The Veterans 10’s will be self-determined and organised by Andrew Parker.

I have asked Stefan Van Zyl to lead our Men’s 7’s Campaign this year. Since joining Sarries, Stefan is, and has been, quite specialised in 7’s and is a highly sought-after player for the experienced and professional invitational teams. Needless to say, Stefan and I are seeking to lift Sarries’ 7’s to the same standards we demand of ourselves in the regular season.

With the coaching staff we have this year, as well as the potential to bring in overseas specialist coaches if needed, we are again solely focused on providing our players with the best resources to be the best they can be. I am asking all Sarries players to put playing for Saracens as their first priority. We appreciate that many have offers to play for social teams, but I hope this year we can continue to reach our full potential as a club and also strive to lift a trophy in multiple competitions.

Updates from the ‘off season’:

  • All tackle bags and bump pads have been repaired and handles restitched.
  • A brand new scrum machine is in the process of being built and delivered as soon as possible.
  • Brand new, top quality Saracens branded Gilbert rugby balls have been purchased.
  • After many talks with Al Ghazal and relevant Abu Dhabi municipality departments, all the lights on the pitch have been completely replaced.
  • The pitch has been resurfaced and levelled out.
  • A second men’s team has been reintroduced to offer all Sarries players the honour of wearing a jersey with pride.

Our website will always be your first place for official announcements, such as events and team selections. Please refer to it first and foremost.

Now, I guess all that is left to say is… let’s get this new season started!