UAE Rugby has entered into a landmark agreement with the UAE Ministry of Education which will see World Rugby’s Get Into Rugby (GIR) programme form part of the Physical Education curriculum in Emirati schools across the UAE. In a first for the region the agreement undoubtedly cements UAE’s position as a leader in development and sustainability of the grassroots game across both the Gulf Cooperation Council and Asia.

“We are exceptionally pleased and encouraged the Ministry of Education has approved rugby as an official sport by including it in their schools (physical) curriculum,” said Qais Al Dhalai, UAE Rugby Secretary General. “This is a major milestone in UAERF’s Player Pathway Programme (PPP). Through this approval, and the ongoing support of PPP partners HSBC and Land Rover, rugby will continue to grow at grassroots, bolstering Asia Rugby's Impact Beyond strategy which is to grow participation numbers across the Asian unions to one million by the Rugby World Cup in 2019.”

At the ground level leading the charge is Sami Smara, UAE Rugby Federation's Development Manager.

“The commitment of our team, and the Ministry can already be seen, where in early January the Ministry published the first ‘Rugby Workbook’, and where over 400 teachers were trained in delivering the programme in one day alone,” he said. 

“More of these type of super-days will be held until we have all physical education teachers (at Emirati school) qualified to deliver the GIR programme, and we expect the numbers of Emirati boys and girls to reach over 200,000 (across the UAE) in the next two years.” 

Hailing the efforts of the Federation in their commitment of growing the game and making it accessible to all, World Rugby Chairman, Bill Beaumont said: “I would like to congratulate UAE Rugby and the UAE Ministry of Education on this landmark agreement that will significantly boost the ongoing development of the game in the UAE.

“Get Into Rugby is a wonderful introductory vehicle for girls and boys to begin their rugby journey and learn and live the values of the sport. We applaud the UAE Federation’s continued drive and approach to laying solid foundations to realise a stronger, sustainable game for the future of the sport.”