ABU DHABI // The coaching team from top English rugby union side Harlequins, headed by Dean Richards, the former England international and now the London club's director of rugby, are set to leave a lasting memory with the 400 children attending the Etihad Airways Harlequins Rugby School beginning this morning at the Al Ghazal Golf Club. The four-day workshop is aimed at both Emirati and international children, and is the first of its kind. It will culminate in a junior rugby festival on Nov 14 and 15.
The old adage of 'catch them young' befits the curtain-raiser event, as any coach would agree it is important to teach the correct fundamentals during a youngster's formative years because it is difficult to put right any wrong techniques. Identifying and nurturing young talent is important for the development of the sport, but it is a task which needs devotion and patience. And these objectives can be best met when the top-class coaching opportunities are provided.
Etihad have flown in four Harlequins coaches and a couple of current players along with Richards. Their aim will be to get Emirati and international children to try rugby for the first time. And the event is a precursor to one of the largest gathering of young players in the Gulf for the international junior rugby tournament in which around 1,800 children from across the globe will compete. The arrival of the Harlequins to teach children is a massive coup. Richards and his party, which also includes the current Harlequins captain Will Skinner, are sure to leave behind a legacy on the budding young stars of the future.
Richards played in three Rugby Union World Cups and has 42 caps for England and six for the British Lions. He also had a successful spell as director of rugby at Leicester Tigers, leading them to four consecutive league titles in England and back-to-back victories in the Heineken Cup. Richards and company may provide the motivation for some of the enthusiastic band of youngsters who may perhaps go on to play for the Arabian Gulf or possibly their country of birth.