ABU DHABI SARACENS RUGBY CLUB is set to begin the 2019/20 Season stronger than expected with new coaches, new players and improved facilities.
From a revitalised 2018/19 campaign the changes and refocus of everyone at ADS has seen the club move into the 2019/20 season well ahead of schedule. Director of Rugby and Head Coach Peter Henderson has admitted it’s all been extremely positive. He explains,
“When I took over the role 2 years ago I was more or less thrown into it. That first year was survival, I can’t deny it. Sarries needed to change direction with respect to how we did things, who we are and what we’re all about. That included some tough decisions hence I put in place a 4 year plan. First of all was to reduce to a 1 team club and bring back traditional rugby values. I was planning on growing us back to 2 teams in the 2020/21 season but in light of the unprecedented number of new players, recruitment drive as well as amazing new coaches we are proud to be in a position to extend Sarries Rugby back to 2 teams.”
Last year ADS played in the Conference League (now referred to as “Division 1”) winning 11 out of their 13 games. While in second place on equal points with Al Ain in Pool B but behind on points difference, by virtue of the pool system the only two teams to defeat Sarries went into the final as did the top two teams from pool A thus making up the other four finalists.
“It was a bitter pill to swallow to have worked so hard but that’s rugby. Some days you’re the pigeon and other days the statue”, Henderson says. “The Dubai Tigers were worthy winners as were all teams who went in to the final series. We have full respect for the competition structure and all our opponents. This year is a different structure and we’re expecting to deliver well prepared and exciting rugby to the competition. We’re incredibly proud to be able to field teams in both Division 1 and Division 2.”
Numbers at training have continued to swell week by week hence the decision to enter a 2nd team into the Division 2 competition. When asked to explain the decision new Chairman Joe Cervantes stated that,
“With more than enough players for 1 team I proposed to the committee that we simply cannot deny players who train and pay their subs the chance to play. Sarries exists to grow rugby in Abu Dhabi and the UAE in the style and traditions that only a rugby club can. We’ll always welcome players of any ability. Gulf Rugby Management have been very supportive as well. We’re proud of where we’ve come from these past few years.”
ADS proudly welcomes 3 new assistant coaches to their staff. Jason Brown hails from South Wales and brings with him his immense experience as a successful Head Coach of the Combined Services for the UK Military to round off his previous roles at other top level RAF and Military teams as both a player and coach. Steve Da Maré joins ADS from Belgium where he played for the Belgium National Team and later went on to coach at the national level in Colts and Ladies divisions. Finally, Farrell Jacobs joins the coaching team as a retired Sarries 1st grade player and now forwards coach. Farrell’s experience stems from South Africa where he played 1st grade Premiership Rugby in Cape Town as well Provincial honours. He went on to begin his coaching at the University of Cape Town before returning to the pitch to play again when work bought him to the Middle East. All our new and current coaches bring with them an unbridled wealth of experience from all parts of the globe and at those respective top levels.
Also Abu Dhabi Saracens will once again be entering a Ladies Team into the UAE Ladies Competition. Coaches Luca Mene and Dave Jones return to an ever growing squad.
“The Ladies Team has a great mix of experienced players and new comers – but it’s the atmosphere they bring to the Club that is what really is remarkable. We’re going from strength to strength again this year,” Coach Luca wanted to point out.
Director of Rugby Peter Henderson affirms that,
“Our job is to provide the players with the best we can to allow them to be the best they can be. We pool our collective experience to deliver a singular coaching structure that is player focussed and open attacking rugby orientated. I want the players playing with smiles on their faces: that the work pays off and they’re having fun out there. If we as a Club do that then the results will follow.”
ADS home ground at Al Ghazal has also undergone big improvements. The pitch has had all lighting fixtures completely replaced and the pitch is being levelled ready for the start of the season.
Chairman Joe Cervantes points out,
“Al Ghazal and Sarries have a great partnership, as do all our sponsorship partners, with MediClinic being our main sponsor this season. They welcome the brand of complete inclusion that is what Sarries is all about. Abu Dhabi Saracens offers what no other rugby club in the UAE can by virtue of sideline adult drinks service during the games to a well stocked BBQ / Braai and Murphy’s above the club house. We’re happy to have such great partners sharing the same philosophy as us.”
Abu Dhabi Saracens Rugby Club’s home ground is at Al Ghazal Golf Club. In the regular season they train every Monday & Wednesday nights from 7 pm until 8.30 pm. Interested players or social members can visit our website at https://www.saracens.ae and contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.