What is in a name? Ask Abu Dhabi Quins

Abu Dhabi Rugby Club are already benefiting from their new association with Harlequins as hundreds sign up at an open night.

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Abu Dhabi Rugby Club are already reaping the rewards of their new association with the famous London club Harlequins. Aspiring players formed lengthy queues to sign up at an open night during the weekend to the delight of club officials. The club changed their name at the end of last season from Abu Dhabi Bats to Abu Dhabi Harlequins.

Richard Harris, the chairman of the club, was encouraged by the upsurge in interest as he expects to have more than 200 playing members by the start of the new season on Friday and a total membership from all age groups approaching 700. Harris presided over the unveiling of a new team shirt, copying the famous quartered design used by the original Harlequins in the English league. The colours have been changed, however, to red and white with flashes of green and black in line with the UAE flag.

The first to "model" it was the lock forward Simon Osbourne and he is looking forward to pulling it on for real when Harlequins begin their defence of the Arabian Cup against Dubai Exiles. "We are all excited by the name change and we are expecting to become a better known outfit because of it," he said. The competition for places is much greater than it was a year ago. I also expect we will be invited on more tours and there should be other spin-off values."

Osbourne, 26, who missed much of the last campaign through injury, was one of many who paid a membership subscription of Dh750, a fee which includes the supply of a set of the newly designed team kit. The new shirts are in demand from rugby supporters in the United Kingdom who want to wear them at matches, according to Harris, who is also delighted at the way the name change has been received after what was regarded by some club stalwarts as a controversial decision to dispense with the Bats logo.

"The new name is making a difference in terms of the people who are contacting us," said Harris. "The more our profile grows, the better quality of players we will attract and that has to be good for the future of our club." wjohnson@thenational.ae