UAE rugby chairwoman aims to continue husband’s legacy

As the club’s chairwoman, Louise Palmer said she is committed to continuing the legacy set by her late husband and former Arabian Knights Chairman, Neil Palmer, who passed away unexpectedly in February.

Louise Palmer, Waisale Serevi - former Fijian rugby player and her late husband Neil Palmer. Courtesy The UAE Rugby Federation
Powered by automated translation

DUBAI // Following in the footsteps of her late husband, Louise Palmer has been appointed to the helm of the Arabian Knights Rugby Football Club.

As the club’s chairwoman, she said she is committed to continuing the legacy of her husband and former Arabian Knights chairman Neil Palmer, who died suddenly in February.

“Neil’s drive and enthusiasm made the Arabian Knights the club it is today – all inclusive, charity driven and a firm supporter of Emirati rugby,” she said.

“I want to honour his legacy by continuing the vision he had for the club.”

She said she is committed to seeing the sport grow in the region and overseeing the development of Emiratis into the game.

“We’re keeping continuity more than anything,” she said, regarding future plans for the club.

“With the immense support I have from both within and outside the club, we will follow Neil’s ideas and continue to ensure his ethics and his inspiration will live on through the Arabian Knights.”

Her appointment was confirmed at the recent UAE Rugby Federation annual general and midseason meeting. She moved from the role of treasurer.

John Taimana, Arabian Knights seniors head coach, said her appointment “provides continuity, stability and direction for the club members, the wider rugby community, and our governing body”.

“I look forward to being part of the leadership team ensuring that we all continue the plan that Neil had mapped out to provide the enjoyment of rugby to the expat and Emirati community,” he said.

Qais Al Dhalai, secretary general of the UAE Rugby Federation secretary general, said: “Neil’s legacy has been passed on to an extremely capable and passionate person.”

“Louise has the unwavering support of the rugby fraternity, and we look forward to working with her and the Arabian Knights team in the years to come,” he said.

The Arabian Knights club was founded in 2008 by a small group led by Mr Palmer and his wife.

“When we moved to the UAE, we thought we could do something for the community and charity, and that is why we founded the Arabian Knights,” Ms Palmer said.

“This is something that was my husband’s passion more than anything. Rugby just became a part of my life. It was Neil’s passion for rugby and it was just something that I supported in him very much.”

Mr Palmer died of heart failure at his home in Victory Heights, Dubai last month.

As well as his wife, he is survived by his two sons, Maximilian and Roman, who are also both passionate about rugby.