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Nick McCashin

Nick McCashin is a former Bay of Plenty representative who has played professionally in England, France and Spain. Nick is currently playing and coaching in Scotland where he is writing and developing content for www.prorugbyclub.com to help players excel on and off the field.

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Dubai Sevens shines rugby spotlight on Middle East

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Nick McCashin     30 Nov 2017     Getty Images

After the race to Dubai and the Formula 1 it has been an action packed few weeks in the United Arab Emirates. The area has just finished a 30 day blast of fitness. At the completion of the Dubai fitness challenge we watched Heavyweight Boxing Champion Anthony Joshua training on top of the Burj Al Rab. Now the region prepares for another major sporting event, the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens.

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The best part of the whole experience is that the relentless heat of the summer has eased and the weather has drawn out the crowds in their masses. No longer do we have to worry about the sweat showing through our shirts as we walk around the city.

The only way to describe the heat is that after five minutes of walking from your car to your office, it looks like someone has thrown a bucket of water over your white shirt!

As the weather loosens its grip on everyone's shirt and the outdoor brunch season gains life so does the training for the Dubai Sevens. Especially the local club rugby competitions.

The local competition here in Dubai started with a round of fifteens which is effectively put on hold to start the build up to the sevens. The competition then runs alongside the professionals in the HSBC Sevens Series leg in Dubai before reverting to fifteens in the new year.

Yes, the competition and pre-season does kick off during the relentless summer. The heat is nothing like you have ever experienced. Especially if your last four years have been spent in the United Kingdom, specifically Scotland. It is not the rain that loosens your grip on the ball it is the buckets of sweat coming from you and everyone else.
Travelling to rugby training in the UAE takes a different shape as many of the clubs are located outside of the city. As you travel through the masses of skyscrapers, you need to keep your wits about you on the drive. It can be a bit chaotic on the six lane roads and accidents are a common site. Cars dodge and weave around you and the large amounts of buses filled with labourers who have finished their shifts on the ever expanding city. Cranes tower over new developments and the window cleaners abseil from them stemming the sand build up on the impressive buildings.

The beauty of moving to a club in the Middle East is that everything you love about amateur club rugby is amplified. None more so than at the Jebel Ali Dragons where I play. At the Dragons there is a very strong sense of belonging. It is strong even though many players only stay in the area for a few months or years. Every player is willing to help you out. Get you settled in and even offer advice on how to tackle the setup which can be challenging at times. This flows through the Dragon's veins directly from its leadership. The leadership made up of Chairman Stuart Quinn and Director of Rugby Henry Paul.
There are too many to name them but two that breath the fire of a Dragon are Dutchy and Harty. This family culture and willingness to help others recently saw the team rallying to find accommodation for the Fiji team.

The Olympic champions were without accommodation. Through the Dragon's network of players and Chairman Quinn they secured accommodation at the Bonnington gym facilities at Base 3 and the mighty Jebel Ali Dragons put out their own sevens team for a tune up against the Fijians. While it was supposed to be a light hit out a few of the boys held nothing back. As did Fiji who showed why they won the gold medal.

Rugby in the region is competitive, good fun and has no shortage of long held rivalries. There are a few ex-professionals mixed throughout the scene and some are still playing as well as coaching. It is an exciting time in the area and the Dubai Sevens will shine an even bigger spotlight on rugby in the Middle East.