UAE national team rugby player Imad Reyal. Antonio Robertson / The National
UAE rugby earn ‘well deserved’ Asian Rugby Championship promotion
Apollo Perelini, the UAE national rugby team coach, has promised there is “more to come" from his team after they crushed Thailand 70-18 to win the Asia Rugby Championship Division 2 title and gain promotion to Division 1 for next year.
The UAE win at the Dustlik Stadium in the Uzbekistan capital Tashkent on Saturday also keeps alive their dreams of qualifying for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and Perelini believes his team, who had dispatched the hosts earlier in the week, has the talent to make those dreams come true.
“We want to challenge at the next level," he was quoted as saying on the WorldRugby website. “We want to go beyond Division 1 in fact. We have a good group of players who can achieve that and we have more to come so I think the future looks bright for us."
Talking about the win over Thailand, Perelini added: “We played well today and we had to in order to beat Thailand. We knew they wouldn’t just lie down for us. It took us probably 30 minutes to get into our stride and, to be honest, it took us 60 minutes before we were able to grind them down.
“We played some good rugby, some entertaining rugby so that was pleasing ... I am very proud of their performance and I’m a very happy coach going back to the UAE.
Charlie Sargent was the star of the UAE’s 10-try win, scoring 20 points, while wing Ryno Fourie, fly-half Matthew Hutchings and twinkle-toed full-back Imad Reyal contributed a double each. Tries from Adithep Keatpattanachai and Chinnoiwont Hirunchai, however, kept Thailand in the hunt late into the second half before the floodgates opened for the UAE.
“We played hard and deserved to win the championship," Salman Hadi, the vice chairman of UAE Rugby, wrote on Twitter as he congratulated the team. “The team work and dedication proved our strength among Asian teams.
“Congratulations to the UAE on winning the Asian Rugby Championship, well deserved