Abu Dhabi Harlequins’ Manning says team benefited from Fijians

Abu Dhabi Harlequins player-coach Jeremy Manning said a recent knowledge-sharing agreement between his side and Fiji Rugby Union had helped Quins immensely.

Abu Dhabi Harlequins played Fiji at Zayed Sports City on Sunday. Christopher Pike / The National
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If Fiji end their Dubai Rugby Sevens drought this weekend and for the first time carry off the Emirates International Trophy, then Abu Dhabi could be set to benefit.

The Flying Fijians arrived in the country last week to acclimatise early, but headed for the capital instead of Dubai.

Abu Dhabi Harlequins were key drivers in the Fiji Rugby Union and their UAE counterparts agreeing a knowledge-sharing agreement earlier this year.

The ties forged between the two meant Quins hosted the Fijian sevens side, conducted training sessions for them at Haddins Gym, and played a friendly game against them on Sunday evening.

Ben Ryan, the Fiji coach, said the arrangement was so helpful it could become a permanent arrangement, while Quins were delighted by their end of the bargain.

“For the boys to play against Fiji like we did was an amazing opportunity,” said Jeremy Manning, the player-coach of Quins.

“Sevens opens up so many doors. You could be at your desk job on Wednesday and then by Saturday be playing in front of 40,000 people.

“To come up against some of the world’s best sevens sides during the week, some of the players must be pinching themselves wondering what is going on.

“It is a great opportunity for anybody, it is a massive thing to do, one of those things that is as good as it is going to get, for most people.”

Manning, who represented London Harlequins in the Premiership Sevens Series in the UK in the summer, has declined invitations to play for touring sides this weekend.

Instead he will be turning out for the first time in the competition with his club side.

“All this weekend is about is enjoyment and if we can reach a final, then fantastic,” he said.