Ruck and Maul: Sand storm as Abu Dhabi Quins claim 'we're not in the middle of the desert'

Harlequins have been playing in Abu Dhabi for three years: the Abu Dhabi Harlequins, that is, who in 2008 became affiliated with the London club of the same name who on Wednesday announced their LV Cup tie against London Wasps will be held in the Gulf state on 30 January.

"We've seen comments in the UK about this game being in the middle of the desert but we've got three spanking new pitches at our club in the centre of the city," Rory Greene, the Abu Dhabi Harlequins chairman, told Ruck and Maul.

"There's great excitement about it here, the match was the big topic of conversation at training on Thursday night and I don't think Wasps and Quins will have any trouble selling the 5,000 tickets."

Greene's club, though run principally by British ex-pats, has members of 25 nationalities and 550 junior players from under-fives to U18s, including two of the Abu Dhabi royal family in the under-sixes.

"We have around 25 Emiratis in the juniors," said Greene, "and there's a big push to get more locals involved. Harlequins send academy coaches over and I've been to London with our first-team coach to watch and learn."

The match will be staged in the grounds of the seven-star Emirates Palace hotel – but won't it be a bit hot for rucking and mauling? Greene said: "It's an evening kick-off so the temperature should be in the high 20s – fine for rugby if a bit warmer than you're used to at the moment."

PS When Harlequins' director of rugby, Conor O'Shea, was asked what his team might otherwise have done for a winter break, he replied: "We'd probably have gone out in Richmond and had a pizza."

William Just lost a tooth

Starring as Ben in the smash-hit sitcom 'Outnumbered' and nabbing the title role in BBC's 'Just William' over the festive season hasn't kept young actor Daniel Roche from one of his other favourite pursuits: playing rugby.

Roche, whose father Tony's rugby writing has appeared in The Independent on Sunday, is a member of Saracens Amateurs' under-11s. He mentioned the sport with reading and music as his hobbies when appearing – and impressively getting much more than a word in edgeways – alongside Sir Terry Wogan, Victoria Wood and Rebecca Front on a recent radio chatshow.

Our Dan is no faint-hearted luvvy. Having forgotten to replace his gumshield after one half-time chat, his cheekbone met someone else's knee – and the scourge of Violet Elizabeth was left with a grin bearing one less tooth than before.

Tagicakibau brothers in arms

While London Irish hope to put an end to their nine-match losing streak at Saracens today, the Tagicakibau family, at least, can't lose.

Michael, at centre for Sarries, will be opposite brother Sailosi on the wing for Irish – both boys to be watched by mum Lofi and dad Isikeli who were over for Christmas and stayed especially for this fixture. A third brother, 18-year-old Sireli, is playing for Toulouse and two sisters live at home in New Zealand.

With all sorts of international qualification open to them – Lofi is Samoan and Isikeli is Fijian – Sailosi plumped for Samoa while Michael plays for Fiji.

As for that run of defeats, Irish have some way to go before matching the worst efforts by top-flight clubs in the open era. Stats specialists Stuart Farmer Media Services inform Ruck and Maul that Rotherham lead the way with 18 consecutive defeats in all competitions in 2003-04, followed by Bristol and Bedford with 14 each in 1997-98 and 1999-00 respectively.

French are up for the Cup

European competition returns next weekend, with Leicester, Northampton and Wasps best placed for England in the Heineken Cup and the Scarlets and Ospreys going well for Wales. The growing strength of French clubs is evident in the Amlin Challenge Cup, a competition our Channel-crossing confreres have not always shown much amour for.

As the groups stand before the final two rounds, the five Challenge Cup pool winners would be Stade Français, Brive, Agen, Bayonne and Montpellier. In this Europa League-style format, the pool winners will be joined in the quarter-finals by three runners-up from Heineken groups, who must each play away.

hughgodwin@yahoo.co.uk

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Life and Style
health
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine