Dubai Exiles turn on the style to complete UAE and West Asia double

Dubai Exiles completed a stunning season by trouncing the Al Ain Amblers to complete the UAE and West Asia double. Paul Radley reports.

DUBAI // After six months and 18 matches in which they had been all business, Dubai Exiles finally allowed themselves a little showboating in the very last play of the season.

DuRandt Gerber, the fly-half who has done so much to bring about the remarkable turn around in fortunes at the city’s oldest club this season, ran in under the posts.

Then, rather than dotting the ball down himself over the line, he passed the ball for prop Kristian Stinsson to score a rare try.

Just to show they were in full party mode, Stinson was also permitted the conversion, too. He duly knocked it over, and was happy to point out after that he had a 100 per cent success rate from the kicking tee — unlike his team’s more highly-regarded kickers.

Until this point of the season, the Exiles had not permitted themselves such frippery. They could be forgiven for it, though. It was their 13th try of the afternoon after all, and they were 76-19 ahead against Al Ain Amblers at the time. The UAE and West Asia double was theirs.

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“I’ve heard what the club has been through over the past few years so it has been good to come in and hopefully have a positive effect,” Gerber said.

“They are a really good bunch of boys and winning both trophies is a pretty good feeling.”

From the failure to qualifying for the elite cross-border competition last season, to winning it this time around, and then the UAE Premiership as well. These are heady times for the Exiles.

What is more, their trophy double has been founded heavily on a variety of home-raised, UAE-qualified players.

In the backs, Tom Stapley and Charlie Sargent both helped themselves to hat-tricks. Stapley only turned 18 recently, yet he has been impossible to dislodge from the Exiles midfield since being handed his debut this year because of injuries to other players.

The success of the young players is not just good for the club. It will be a major boost for Apollo Perelini, the onlooking UAE coach, who now has to ready a national team for coming challenges.

Even among those yet to qualify for national duty, there is more talented youth.

For example, against an Al Ain team packed with gifted players from the Pacific Islands, the outstanding Fijian on the field was Vereniki Leveanasiga, the brilliant young Exiles lock forward.

“At the start of the season, having not made the Gulf Top Six for the past two years, some of the boys wanted to go play somewhere else,” Jacques Benade, the Exiles coach said.

“We had individual one-on-one chats with all the players, telling them what we wanted to do, and that really worked.

“A lot of credit has to go to those boys. They just never stopped. They had to work hard, we put a side together, signed a few brilliant boys, and it all made such a big difference.

“Although we said at the start we had a three-year plan, the fact the boys worked so hard meant we were able to achieve it.”

Who won what in 2015-16?

UAE Premiership

Winners: Dubai Exiles

Runners up: Abu Dhabi Harlequins

West Asia Championship

Winners: Dubai Exiles

Runners up: Abu Dhabi Harlequins

Dubai Rugby Sevens

Winners: Abu Dhabi Harlequins

Runners up: Al Ain Amblers

UAE Conference

Winners: Sharjah Wanderers

Runners up: Jebel Ali Dragons II

UAE Community League

Winners: Beaver Nomads

Runners up: Jebel Ali Dragons III

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