Dubai Sports City have announced the merging of premier UAE rugby club, Dubai Eagles, with fellow team Arabian Knights.
The news was unveiled at Sports Village by senior executives of both Dubai Sports City and the UAE Rugby Federation, and marks the creation of a club that will offer the best rugby experience in the region to a wide range of players.
The announcement came after Arabian Knights’ recent ownership struggles, that began in 2015 following the passing of co-owner Neil Palmer whose wife Louise was forced to keep the 350-member club running on her own after his death.
“I have been very keen to give the Arabian Knights a permanent home and I am incredibly proud that today’s news will provide the club not only with the stability it deserves but also safeguards the legacy, which both Neil and myself worked so hard to preserve,” Louise said.
Knights’ merging with the Dubai-based club sees it become part of the only rugby team in the UAE with its own home venue, building on Eagles’ 200-strong membership accumulated after its founding in 2016.
And the announcement also marks good news for Dubai Sports City itself, who are committed to enhancing the growth of rugby in the area and ensuring the Sports Park is the optimum venue of choice for community rugby in the UAE.
Vijay Sajjanhar, chief financial officer of Dubai Sports City, said: “The announcement today speaks loudly in regards to the commitment of Dubai Sports City to the sport of rugby in the UAE.
“At Dubai Sports City we know that sport has the power to bring individuals and cultures together and this amalgamation shows that rugby has a long-term home in the heart of the community for players of all ages and skills.”
The new club will be rebranded as Dubai Knights Eagles, and will don a combination of the two respective teams’ green and orange colours.
They will compete at all levels of the UAERF leagues and have a full contingent of mini and youth players, as well as members gaining full access to the wide range of facilities at the Sports Park.
And Qais Al Dhalai, secretary general of UAE Rugby Federation and the man who has been overseeing the amalgamation, is confident the creation of the third largest club in the region will be a success.
“With a venue of the quality of the Sports Park, this new club will offer a unique opportunity and playing experience to all those involved,” he said.
“Many rugby clubs are under pressure financially in today’s market and these types of mergers are seen as a positive step in the maturation of the rugby club business in the UAE.
“We, the UAE Rugby Federation see this as a positive step and one that augers well for the future of all rugby enthusiasts.”