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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 25/08/2014
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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) UAE Rugby came away from the Hong Kong Asian Sevens on Sunday with little to show for their energetic efforts after finishing bottom of the 12-team competition with four straight heavy defeats, shipping 160 points and scoring just five in the process.

Having lost their two Pool A games to Japan (51-0) and Malaysia (40-0) on Saturday, the UAE dropped down to contest the Bowl semi-final against Chinese Taipei early on Sunday morning (8:20am).

Another one-sided reverse (29-0) then left them in the 11th/12th place play-off alongside Kazakhstan, who duly cantered to a 40-5 win to avoid the wooden spoon.

Hareb Al Azri went over for the UAE's solitary score to somewhat spare their blushes as they almost emerged pointless from this two-day tournament.

"We are very proud of this team as, despite what were deflating results on the scoreboard, not once did any of our players slow or lose intensity," said team manager Mohamed Shaker, who is also a UAE Rugby Federation board member.

"They maintained their composure and ferocity against an outstanding and professional Japanese team and showed courage in their final game against an aggressive Kazakhstan.

"These are very important traits to nurture as we grow this team under such confronting circumstances."

UAE Rugby's secretary-general Qais Al Dhalai added: "Our investment in our young Emirati players is a long-term programme; a programme where we decided to build a strong base for national teams consisting of talentedyoung players and to not look solely at the results during what we are in - a phase of construction and development.

"This is evident through the intensive training camps recently held in the Netherlands and South Africa with the Sharks Academy.

"As far as our outlook to provide a good setting for these players and acquire more competitive international experience, it was - and remains - our choice to participate in all such ARFU (Asian Rugby Football Union) tournaments and brave what could be considered walk-over games, so as to benefit our players and we believe within the next three years we will reap the fruits of this effective planning."

The UAE will be hoping for further, incremental improvements in their next outings in this Asian Sevens Series, with the second stop scheduled for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the weekend of September 6 th-7th. Beijing, China is then provisionally up next on the schedule on October 18th-19th.

Meanwhile, Japan the traditional powerhouse of Asian rugby surprisingly could only finish third after a shock 28-21 loss to South Korea in the Cup semi-finals.

They eventually beat Sri Lanka 42-12 in the third/fourth place play-off to claim the bronze medal, whereas the South Koreans had to be content with silver as hosts Hong Kong stormed to a 40-0 success in the final.

China won the women's event courtesy of a 38-7 triumph over their Hong Kong counterparts, with Japan once again completing the podium positions overall following a 19-5 defeat of Kazakhstan.


Khaleej Times

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