The UAE Rugby Federation announced a new player transfer window for current registered UAERF competition players to be able to move clubs during the season.

Previously the understanding was that players could not move clubs without the consent of the UAERF.

Now players can transfer clubs during the following periods – 1st August – 15th August (i.e the start of the season when players are registering anyway) and a second ‘window’ of – 20th December – 5th January.

Interestingly this window then negates the previous rules: –

3.4 A Player may only apply to change the Club for whom they are registered at the end of the current season with the specific consent of the UAERF.

3.5 A Player who changes the Club for whom they are registered during the Season may not compete in the same Competition for his new Club without the specific consent of the UAERF.

Both theoretically allowed player movement at any time if they were approved by UAERF.

So, we presume no one was ever give and consent before now they are (without UAERF approval) if it is done within these two date windows.

As confirmed in – “The UAERF regulations will be amended accordingly and any transfer requests outside of these windows will not be considered. All other regulations regarding effective registration remain status quo”.

Although any player wishing to transfer still needs their current club’s approval.

“Players wishing to transfer must supply a letter of no objection from their current club addressed to the UAERF Secretary General to be able to transfer to a new club”.

This is a little more in line with the RFU system as below, especially in the amateur leagues, where players need to be registered for insurance purposes as here, but as long as a club does not object there is little interference from the Union.

“Sections 6/7; a Notification of Transfer Form (PDF 88kB) must be sent when the player is transferring from one club to another. On receipt of the Notification of Transfer the transferring club will have seven days to raise any objection to his registration. If no objection is raised then the player’s registration will become effective in seven days”.

The UAERF need be applauded here for listening to the clubs requests and making accommodation and though towards their needs.

However, it does raise the question again as to where are we in terms of development in terms of semi-professional rugby.

Players transfer objections can only be justified if a club has spent time and money on a player. Time if they are academy players who have been trained through the ranks. Money if players are paid to play. Gulf rugby has neither and as much as it can be annoying. Any player working 9-5 wanting to switch clubs half way through a season, either by choice, or even change of employment to a new city, should be allowed to do so.

Is the player transfer control any more of a problem than clubs with more than one team using 1st or 2nd team players up and down the league divisions? Clubs with more than one team have a significant advantage than those that done.

There are proposals for further league restructuring to address this and other problems.

Current problems also include:

Club recruitment is increasingly favouring Premiership clubs with 2nd teams in the second tier which is damaging the clubs with 1st teams in the Conference. (Sharjah Wanderers learnt this lesson last weekend against Jebel Ali Dragons).

Only players in the Premiership are being considered for selection for the national team.

While this is understandable in terms of level of playing, it is a secondary attraction to player recruitment.

Like youth teams where one club has 4 or 5 teams at one age groups other clubs are struggling to make numbers. So, while it looks good for a club. A final with an A team playing a B team is hardly healthy.

Looking at this season UAE Premiership and while promotion and relegation exists, every team in the UAE Premiership has a 2nd team in the conference – effectively no relegation.

Gulf Rugby is fluid and ever changing. This player transfer is great news in the progress of development in the region, there are a great many things to look at still.