Dubai Sports City on June 26 unveiled the merger of its premier rugby club, the Dubai Eagles with fellow club Arabian Knights. The news which was announced at Sports Village by senior executives of Dubai Sports City and the UAE Rugby Federation will be a great opportunity to create a club that offers the best rugby experience in the region to players of all ages and skill levels.
Arabian Knights was founded in 2008 in the UAE by Neil and Louise Palmer. The couple were a force of nature in the UAE rugby landscape, until the untimely passing of Neil in 2015 which left Louise to keep the club going in order to preserve its legacy, which she has done with courage and commitment. Arabian Knights has approximately 350 members and the club has actively regularly based itself at Dubai Sports City Sports Park, since 2011.
Speaking about the legacy of the Arabian Knights, Louise Palmer said: “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.”
Dubai Eagles, which was itself only recently founded, in 2016, has 200 active members and is the only rugby club in the UAE which owns their home venue, all of which makes today’s tie-up a natural fit. Particularly as Dubai Sports City is committed to growing the game of rugby and ensuring the Sports Park is the venue of choice for community rugby.
Vijay Sajjanhar, Chief Financial Officer of Dubai Sports City, speaking ahead of the tie-up 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, which will be renamed Dubai Knights Eagles, will feature the green and orange from each respective club. The club will compete in all levels of UAERF leagues and have a full complement of mini and youth players. The club members will have the advantage of the social elements of the Sports Park such as the club rooms, access to gymnasiums, running track and indoor facilities creating a unique experience for the all members, both new and old.
The consolidation of the two clubs will create the third largest club in the region and overseeing the finer detail of the amalgamation has been Qais Al Dhalai, Secretary General UAE Rugby Federation: “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. 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.” – firstname.lastname@example.org