Coach Henry Paul of Jebel Ali Dragons training ahead of West Asia Premiership match against DSC Eagles.

(Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National)

Reporter: Paul Radley 
Section: SP
Henry Paul will not be part of the Canada coaching staff the Rugby World Cup, despite helping the team as a defensive coach reach Japan. Reem Mohammed / The National

Henry Paul credits 'incredible' Jebel Ali Dragons players for West Asia Premiership title success

Jebel Ali Dragons coach Henry Paul heaped praise on his side after they captured the West Asia Premiership title on Friday.

The Dragons ended Bahrain’s 14-month unbeaten home record to triumph 36-32, a victory that included an all-important bonus point. It proved decisive in securing top spot from defending champions Abu Dhabi Harlequins, who finished a solitary point off the summit. The win ensured the Dragons were crowned West Asia champions for the first time in four years.

Paul conceded he had not expected to glean the five points from Bahrain, but paid tribute to his side’s desire and determination. He singled out assistant coaches Jonny Macdonald and Andy Buist for leading the Dragons while he was away recently working with the Canada national team, but described the season’s success as very much a collective effort.


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“It’s been led by the players,” Paul said. “Jonny and Andy have been amazing, the senior players have been incredible. I’m really, really proud. I can’t speak highly enough of everyone involved in the club.

“We wouldn’t have a club if it wasn’t for our sponsors, so Hamish Russell at Hesco has been fantastic. We had some players missing for the trip to Bahrain, not the complete squad I would’ve liked to have picked, but the guys who stepped up were unbelievable, guys who hadn’t really featured in our team. But they relished the opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. I’m really thankful to those guys, too. It's a fantastic achievement.”

Paul said the title win had much to do with the resolve shown during the Dragons’ last four fixtures. They took bonus points from each, coming through a typically tough test against the Dubai Hurricanes in their penultimate match. They will now have a week off before facing Bahrain again in the West Asia Cup.

“Last year was tough,” Paul said. “But this year, the Exiles have got a great team, Abu Dhabi Quins have a great team, Hurricanes are always competitive against us, Bahrain are such a good team as well. So we’ve had a lot of battles this year. Everyone’s just played well at the right time, and we got a bit of luck as well.

“But the other teams have been great. I’ve had really, really nice phone calls from a couple of coaches around the league, recognising what the team have done. I really respect a lot of the guys here in the league. We’re all in the same boat in terms of getting players. It’s an amateur league and we really ask a lot from the boys.

“Winning the league, being the best team over the course of a season, and winning it by a single point, says a lot about our consistency and a lot about the boys’ desire and commitment - how they’ve turned up week-in, week-out. They’ve been rewarded for it, which they’ve fully deserved.”

The bio

Studied up to grade 12 in Vatanappally, a village in India’s southern Thrissur district

Was a middle distance state athletics champion in school

Enjoys driving to Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah with family

His dream is to continue working as a social worker and help people

Has seven diaries in which he has jotted down notes about his work and money he earned

Keeps the diaries in his car to remember his journey in the Emirates

The specs

Engine: 1.8-litre 4-cyl turbo
Power: 190hp at 5,200rpm
Torque: 320Nm from 1,800-5,000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto
Fuel consumption: 6.7L/100km
Price: From Dh111,195
On sale: Now


Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5


Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

The specs

Engine: 6.2-litre supercharged V8

Power: 712hp at 6,100rpm

Torque: 881Nm at 4,800rpm

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 19.6 l/100km

Price: Dh380,000

On sale: now

Where to buy art books in the UAE

There are a number of speciality art bookshops in the UAE.

In Dubai, The Lighthouse at Dubai Design District has a wonderfully curated selection of art and design books. Alserkal Avenue runs a pop-up shop at their A4 space, and host the art-book fair Fully Booked during Art Week in March. The Third Line, also in Alserkal Avenue, has a strong book-publishing arm and sells copies at its gallery. Kinokuniya, at Dubai Mall, has some good offerings within its broad selection, and you never know what you will find at the House of Prose in Jumeirah. Finally, all of Gulf Photo Plus’s photo books are available for sale at their show. 

In Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi has a beautiful selection of catalogues and art books, and Magrudy’s – across the Emirates, but particularly at their NYU Abu Dhabi site – has a great selection in art, fiction and cultural theory.

In Sharjah, the Sharjah Art Museum sells catalogues and art books at its museum shop, and the Sharjah Art Foundation has a bookshop that offers reads on art, theory and cultural history.

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