[Dubai, 13 May 2011] Japan coach John Kirwan joined former Scotland boss Frank Hadden to lead clinics for 50 schoolchildren on Thursday morning as the HSBC ARFU Rugby Coaching Tour continued its four-day series of activities in Dubai.
Kirwan has enjoyed the highs of rugby, finishing as the joint-top try scorer as New Zealand won the first Rugby World Cup in 1987 and coaching Japan at France 2007.
However, the former winger showed his enthusiasm for spreading the game at the grassroots level when he and Hadden gave youngsters from Al Shafie Primary School and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Secondary School a taste of world-class coaching at Al Safa Sports Hall, a day before his Japan side took on the UAE in their televised HSBC Asian 5 Nations clash.
“It’s very hot here at this time of year, so we’ve coached the kids indoors and this version of the game seems very popular. They responded well to the drills we developed for them and seem to have a genuine appetite for the game,” said Kirwan, who in March launched this year’s HSBC ARFU Rugby Coaching Tour with fellow All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu in Hong Kong.
“Rugby in the UAE has traditionally been spearheaded by expatriates, so it has been rewarding to help the game grow in local schools and communities with the HSBC ARFU Rugby Coaching Tour, which is dedicated to developing the game at all levels, all across Asia.”
Japan are playing the UAE for the first time since the creation of the new national association, having enjoyed home wins over the former Arabian Gulf in HSBC Asian 5 Nations matches in 2008 and last year.
As Kirwan returned his attention to his ‘Brave Blossoms’, Hadden led a clinic on Friday morning for U-14 players at the Dubai Exiles Rugby Football Club.
“I came to Dubai last year with the HSBC ARFU Rugby Coaching Tour and I really liked what I saw, so it’s great to come again to witness the continued enthusiasm for this great game of ours,” said Hadden, who coached Scotland from 2005 to 2009.
“There is real potential for growth here, especially in the Arab community and we are delighted to try to assist with development at all levels.”
Hadden spearheaded the inaugural HSBC ARFU Rugby Coaching Tour last year following his four-year stint with Scotland and this year he has again been leading the bulk of activity along with Ismail Kadir, Development Officer for ARFU (Asian Rugby Football Union) and a former Singapore centre.
The Tour’s activity in the UAE started on Tuesday with a session for Al Marif Secondary School for Boys in Rashidiya, Deira, while Hadden and Kadir conducted a teachers’ workshop in Salahuddin Sports Hall in Bur Dubai on Wednesday.
Dean Herewini, representing the HSBC Penguin International Coaching Academy, was part of the coaching staff for Thursday’s sessions and was part of Friday’s clinic for the Dubai Exiles youngsters.
Division IV is also being held at The Sevens this week and on Friday evening the third place playoff between Uzbekistan and Jordan and the final between Lebanon and Qatar both kick off at 6.00pm before the UAE host Japan at 8.00pm.
Abdulfattah Sharaf, CEO of HSBC UAE, said: “Today we were delighted to see the HSBC ARFU Rugby Coaching Tour continue its widespread activities in the UAE for the week, and we’re happy that it returned to build on its excellent work here in Dubai last year.
“The HSBC Asian 5 Nations enables the world’s local bank to engage with the local community and at the same time, the coaching programme is designed to inspire the next generation of rugby players.”
Following the HSBC Asian 5 Nations and ongoing summer activity in Hong Kong, from August onwards the HSBC ARFU Rugby Coaching Tour will organise clinics to support the new HSBC Asian Sevens Series which will feature events in China, Malaysia, Thailand and India.
HSBC ARFU Coaching Tour 2011
March 23 Hong Kong
April 20-23 Colombo, Sri Lanka
April 28-30 Hong Kong
May 3-8 Bangkok, Thailand
May 10-13 Dubai, UAE
May 19-21 Hong Kong
May 19-21 Colombo, Sri Lanka
June 2-4 Incheon/Seoul, Korea
Dates to be confirmed:
July Hong Kong