West Asia rugby preview: Andy Buist ready to defy doctor’s orders for Jebel Ali Dragons

Seven years after injury forced him to retire from professional rugby in England, Andy Buist is looking forward to continuing his unlikely comeback in the Middle East. Paul Radley reports.
Jebel Ali Dragons player Andy Buist was forced to retire from rugby in 2009 but is now making a playing comeback in Dubai. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Jebel Ali Dragons player Andy Buist was forced to retire from rugby in 2009 but is now making a playing comeback in Dubai. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

DUBAI // Seven years after injury forced him to retire from professional rugby in England, Andy Buist is looking forward to continuing his unlikely comeback in the Middle East.

The second-row forward made 42 Premiership appearances for Newcastle Falcons between 2003 and 2009, before a serious knee injury forced him out of the game.

He did not play at all for five years, so serious was the cartilage damage, and he acknowledges he should not be playing now either.

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After moving to Dubai earlier this year without the intention of playing, though, he took less than two weeks to get back out on the pitch.

He arrived at Jebel Ali Dragons, played six matches at the end of last season, and is looking ahead to the new one with his love for the game revived.

“I arrived without any kit at all, with the idea of not playing,” Buist, 32, said.

“Within 10 days I was out playing at The Sevens against Dubai Hurricanes.

“I told them I didn’t have any kit. They found me some boots and some kit, and I finished up playing the tail end of last season. Now I’ve stupidly decided to try carrying on for another one.”

Having been a long-time clubmate of Jonny Wilkinson at Newcastle, Buist was never likely to be star-struck when Henry Paul turned up this summer to coach the Dragons.

However, Buist, who is dovetailing playing with coaching the Dragons pack, says the former England player’s influence since taking over has been marked.

“You just need to go on our club website, I thought I had logged on to the Henry Paul Fansite,” said Buist, who is also an Rugby Football Union-qualified coach.

“Everyone knows Henry is a great ambassador for rugby in general, both codes, and the fact he chose us was great.

“He is very knowledgable about the game, and I would definitely say that is part of the reason we have been getting such huge numbers down for pre-season.

“Also, because of the coaching structure we have at the club now, we are more organised. I think it has made a huge difference.”

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Published: September 21, 2016 04:00 AM

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