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02 March 2024

Ex-Wallaby is UAE's High Performance Manager

Duncan Hall (centre) addressing the media in the presence of Faisal Abdulaziz Alzarooni (left), Vice-Chairman of UAE Rugby Association and Salman Mahmood Hadi, general secretary of UAERA at a press conference on Monday. (ALLAAM OUSMAN)

By Allaam Ousman

The UAE Rugby Association (UAERA) took a giant leap into the future with the appointment of Australian Duncan Hall, a former Wallaby international, as their Rugby Performance Manager.

Hall was selected after a "stringent and well-defined" criteria from among nearly 50 candidates who applied for this high-profile job, according to the CEO of UAERA Ian Bremner.

"We wanted some who has coached at international level at both Sevens and XVs and having the ability to influence other elite coaches. The whole thing is about strategically planning to improve performance across a whole range of tactical, technical, psychological and physical skills," said Bremner at a press conference on Monday.
A nationally accredited Level III rugby union coach, Hall previously held positions as Head Coach with USA Rugby and State Director of Coaching for Queensland Rugby, and has Premiership experience with Leicester Tigers and Worcester Warriors and Super XV’s involvement with New South Wales Waratahs. In 2000 he was awarded with the Australian Sports Medal for services to Rugby.

Hall's appointment on a three-year contract meets one of the four strategic goals set by UAERA as outlined by Bremner. "One is to achieve full IRB (International Rugby Board) membership and General Authority for Youth and Welfare approval for all of our programmes and competitions,  we like to have all of our UAE rugby properties sponsored (women's rugby, schools rugby, youth rugby, etc) and have Emirati schools playing regularly in competitions," he said adding that 59 youth sides and 50 schools side are playing rugby at the moment.

"It is a significant development for UAE rugby and investment in our high performance activity. Key to this is in order to operate effectively, you need continuity of players, coaching and programmes to plan effectively to make sure that our Asian conference that we operate in and the world ranking once we get IRB membership is one that we can be proud of," said Bremner.

The first challenge for Hall would be to retain UAE's Top Five position in the forthcoming Asian Five Nations.

"I'm looking forward to meeting the team tomorrow (Tuesday) night to see what they can do to work throughout the next three months to prepare and play in the Asian Five Nations," said Hall who was involved with Indonesia for the past three years before coming to UAE.

"From what I saw the competiton is difficult. Japan and Hong Kong are more organised and more full time.  There are lots of unknown about Kazakhstan," he said.

His knowledge of UAE rugby is minimal but it would not come as a culture shock to him after having worked with indigenous people in Indonesia.

"I'm sort of well aware of nature of rugby playing population here. My partly being here was to give opportunity to maintain a position in the A5N Top Five. With the Shaheen boys you could see a diversity of skills. Object now is to provide opportunity for all players in UAE to become better players and then to perform at a higher level," he said when asked about his impressions after getting a sneak preview of Emiratis playing rugby.

Hall, who was capped 15 times for the Wallabies, wants to inculcate what it means to be a UAE national player. It's a sort of great honour for anyone to represent a country. We want to maintain that. Take great pride in what we do but also bring to the table that we are playing better that we got better individual skills and better community team skills," said Hall who also holds a Diploma of Teaching and Associated Diploma in Business as well.

“We are very excited to welcome Duncan into the UAE Rugby management team” said UAE Rugby Chairman Mohammed Falaknaz in a statement. “Duncan has exceptionally impressive, quantifiable qualifications in developing players and teams through implementing effective practices and we envisage his top level experience to be invaluable in our goal to improve our ranking in Asia”.

“I am honoured to be chosen as UAE Rugby’s Performance Manager” added Hall. “I am committed to the vision of the Association, specifically developing the unique features of Rugby and pathways for the UAE players.”