DUBAI // Aideen Butler, the captain of the UAE women’s side, says her teammates want to be the standard-bearers for the domestic game in international competition this weekend.
Both the all-Emirati men’s team and the all-expatriate women’s teams have been entered into the respective International Invitational competitions at The Sevens.
As such, each has a tough task, as the event is the tier below the senior IRB world series in terms of standard.
However, Butler is hoping the extra volume of pitchside support will count in her side’s favour as they pit themselves against sides such as the Kenyan national team.
“We have four games on Friday, so the club teams who play most their matches on Thursday will be there shouting for us,” said the Abu Dhabi Harlequins player.
“We are probably one of the best supported UAE teams. Last year the Rugby Federation board members watched our games and said they wanted that many people down supporting the men’s teams.
“We have a nice blend of youth and experience now, whereas we had been reliant on a lot of us old fogies in the past.
“There is a lot of competition now as people are deciding they want to play for the UAE. That competition is very healthy and there is a lot of belief now.”
The UAE women were buoyed by finishing sixth in the Asian Championships in India earlier this month.
It represented a vast improvement on the 11th place last year and Wayne Marsters, the coach, says it is a reason for optimism.
“The International Invitational is a tough competition but they did really well in India a few weeks ago,” Marsters said.
“We surprised a lot of people, but this is a different level when you are playing against teams like South Africa and Kenya.”
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