DUBAI // Rugby league was given the most explosive baptism imaginable in the Emirates when a clash between the nascent UAE Falcons and Liban Espoir of Lebanon was abandoned with a quarter of the match still to play following a mass brawl between the players. Emirates Rugby League have mapped out a development programme in the hope that the UAE will qualify for the 2013 World Cup, starting with two matches against their Lebanese rivals.
However, they made an acrimonious start when the two sides clashed in the third quarter of a match divided into four to cope with the summer heat. The UAE led their more experienced rivals 16-6 when the referee said enough was enough. A disappointed Sol Mokdad, the director of development for the sport in the Emirates, said: "There is a big rivalry between the two sides. It was an extremely physical game, every hit was a big hit. It got out of hand, there was some dirty play at the ruck, and it all went off.
"It is a shame given the organisation that has gone into putting this match on," added Mokdad, who is from Lebanon. A rematch is scheduled for tomorrow night but Mokdad said the main perpetrators will be banned, pending a tribunal today. "We are trying to send a message that if these things happen, the players involved will be disciplined and the game will go on." email@example.com