DUBAI // Wayne Marsters said he will leave UAE rugby “with a heavy heart” when he returns to his native New Zealand next month after 14 years in the Middle East.
The UAE rugby manager will end his association with the game here when he takes up a new role as coach educator and developer in Christchurch.
The role involves overseeing development in a union that provides players for the Canterbury ITM Cup side as well as the Crusaders Super Rugby franchise.
“It is an opportunity I couldn’t turn down,” Marsters said. “It will be difficult to leave, I have been here for a long time.
“I’m not used to paying tax, watching rugby with my gumboots on, a jacket and thermal underwear. I’m used to going to rugby with flip-flops on.”
Few people have had an impact on rugby in this region as extensive as the understated Marsters, who grew up in New Zealand’s south island.
He played for the Arabian Gulf at sevens and XVs, while he was the player-coach at Abu Dhabi Harlequins (who were then known as the Bats).
He was coach of the Arabian Gulf during their opening campaign in the new Asian Five Nations, in 2008, then coached the Dubai Exiles and in Iran.
He returned to the UAE to oversee the game’s development here, with a particular responsibility for Emirati development.
Qais Al Dhalai, the secretary general of the UAE rugby federation, said Marsters has played a vital role in the development of the game here.
“We have contradictory feelings,” Al Dhalai said. “We thank him for his commitment and contribution to the development of both our sevens and XVs players.
“We are very excited to hear of Wayne’s new role and are confident he takes with him valuable knowledge to help succeed in his role.”
Although Marsters is moving to a province that is arguably the most fertile breeding ground for rugby players anywhere in the world, he believes it is the skills he learnt here that have equipped him for his new job.
“I believe I have got this role because of what I’ve been doing here in terms of grassroots development and the challenges I have handled,” Marsters said.
“I think they might have thought about what we have had to handle over here, in comparison it could be a walk in the park over there.”
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