Former Australian star Joe Roff joins the Conquistadors for Dubai Rugby 7s 2017!

A great article from The National newspaper in the UAE today. Click here.  Awesome to have this bloke, Joe Roff, Rugby World Cup winner with the Australian Wallabies, and a former Oxford University rugby team mate, helping out with our charity team, the Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors, at the Dubai 7s when he is not on official duties with HSBC.

A throwback here to the Varsity Match 2006 at Twickenham (both younger and hairier versions), tackling Ross Blake the Cambridge captain. We definitely got him. :)

Former Australian international star Joe Roff and Winston Cowie in action for Oxford University in the 2006 Varsity Match at Twickenham

“I am honoured to be the bag manager for the Conquistadors this year,” said Roff. “It is a role I will take seriously, making sure the boys have the right kit and are looking sharp. On a serious note I have heard Mike Ballard’s story and I’m really impressed by what he has achieved personally, and what this group achieved in going to Madagascar last year.”

Mike Ballard, the Conquistadors Manager, is also rather excited for the Sevens.

“It will be a last-minute deal, with some arriving the night before the start, and in true social rugby tradition, we won’t get a team run in,” Ballard said. “We are going to show up and have a go, but it will be good.”

We are playing in the International Social, with the Timetable for Day 1 below if you want to give us some support!

And a massive thank you to all of our sponsors who have supported us and continue to support us! We are incredibly grateful to you!

Onwards to the Sevens!

Massive thanks to:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wheelchairs, rugby and lemurs: The Arabian Gulf rugby community spreads goodwill in Seychelles and Madagascar.

Wheelchairs, rugby and lemurs: The Arabian Gulf rugby community spreads goodwill in Seychelles and Madagascar.

It was the morning of 26 June 2016, two day’s prior to the departure of the Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors goodwill rugby mission to Seychelles and Madagascar. The Middle East based team, with players from clubs in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar, awakes to the news that there had been what was described as a terrorist attack at Mahamasina Stadium in Madagascar, killing two and wounding 80 people. The stadium was the very place where the Conquistadors were intending to play the Madagascar national side in a rugby match one week later.

To go or not to go – that was the question. We did a risk assessment – following the attack Madagascar was categorised as a ‘medium travel risk’ – the attack initially considered to be a ‘one-off’ associated with a national day rally. We asked the team – were they prepared to travel to Madagascar given the circumstances?

Two day’s later, and after monitoring the situation closely for any escalation, and after receiving assurances of increased security by the Madagascar Rugby Union, on the morning of the scheduled departure later that evening, 22 of the 24 person mission squad were ‘in.’

Excited and nervous we headed to Abu Dhabi Airport for the primary sponsor, Air Seychelles, flight to Madagascar via the Seychelles.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Seven months earlier the team had formed under the banner of their good mate, Mike Ballard, an American national from Michigan who suffered a serious spinal injury whilst playing for the Abu Dhabi Harlequins in the 2014 West Asian Club Championship final.

At the time and over the ensuing two years, the Arabian Gulf rugby community supported Mike, who that year was nominated for the prestigious UAE Player of the Year Award.  Now back on top his rehabilitation after two determined and inspiring years (he broke every rehabilitation record at the Mary Freebed Rehabilitation Hospital in Michigan), Mike has moved back to Abu Dhabi to live and work, taking up a place at his old school, the “New England Centre for Children with Autism”, where his teaching greatly inspired the Autistic children and their families.

The Conquistadors were set up initially to support Mike with his move back to Abu Dhabi – and Mike arrived the night before the Dubai 7s – making it back to lead the Conquistadors onto the pitch at the Dubai 7’s in December 2015.

Mike Ballard and the Conquistadors

Mike Ballard and the Conquistadors

 

Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors and the Lewsey brothers, Ed and Josh, at Dubai 7s 2015.

Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors and the Lewsey brothers, Ed and Josh, at Dubai 7s 2015.

With the success of the team at the Sevens where they reached the semi finals of one of the local leagues, Mike and the team took the initiative to embark on an annual ‘good will’ mission to have a positive impact on the lives of others, through rugby union.

Mike Ballard comments:

“The support of the rugby community was a major driving force in getting me through my darkest hour when I was injured in 2014, and we formed the Conquistadors team soon after so we could help out other rugby communities around the world. On top of being a good a chance for us to further the sport of rugby, this trip is also an opportunity to improve the lives of people who may have suffered a spinal injury or have mobility problems for other reasons.  I want to thank Air Seychelles for making this goodwill mission possible.”

And so it was that we were enroute to Seychelles, six months after the Seychelles and Madagascar vision.

Seychelles and the Air Seychelles Press Conference

After a very comfortable flight (the management team were grateful to fly business class much to the team’s chargin), we were greeted upon disembarking by no other than the Seychelles Minister of Health, the honourable Mitcy Larue, the CEO of Air Seychelles, Roy Kinnear, members of the Seychelles Rugby Union and others. A fantastic press conference ensued and the team donated 20 wheelchairs to Seychelles hospital.

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors with Government Officials

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors with Government Officials

The honourable Mitcy Larue, the Seychelles Minister of Health, commented:

“We are thrilled to receive this generous donation of wheelchairs, which will go a long way towards improving the quality of life for people with disabilities, the elderly and other patients with mobility problems in Seychelles. The fact that it is coupled with the promotion of sports, which are an essential component of healthy living, makes this initiative doubly positive.”

Roy Kinnear, CEO of Air Seychelles commented:

“Air Seychelles is extremely proud to support this goodwill mission, which will benefit many people with mobility and physical impairments in both Seychelles and Madagascar. In addition to providing much-needed medical equipment, this initiative will also contribute to the development of rugby in the Indian Ocean region. We’re happy that as the national airline we can play our part in increasing engagement in sports. What this tour also demonstrates is the significant contribution of our four-per-week Antananarivo service to the growth of people-to-people, government and cultural ties, between our island countries as well as other markets such as the UAE.”

I don’t think any of the gents who were part of the mission team had experienced anything like the conference at Seychelles Airport. “I feel like a rock star,” commented one of the younger members of the team, Charles Etchells, who is studying to be a doctor at Manchester University.

The photos sum up the wonderful experience.

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Press Conference

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Press Conference

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors Press Conference - Seychelles Welcome

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors Press Conference – Seychelles Welcome

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors - Press Conference Singalong

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors – Press Conference Singalong

And then it was onwards to Madagascar where we intended to donate 40 wheelchairs and medical equipment to the Aide Manjakasoa Madagascar rehabilitation facility, hold two day’s of rugby coaching with 300 U14 children from 7 clubs and 3 schools; and play the match v the Madagascar national side.

Madagascar

Madagascar. What a place. The third largest island in the world is a developing country where nine out of ten people live on less than two dollars a day. It is also a country where rugby is the national sport with over 48,000 participants, and the national team, ‘the Makis’, are ranked 41 in the world. Put simply, they are rugby mad! Madagascar has the third highest number of registered players in Africa but the majority of rugby playing children (90%) don’t have any uniforms.

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors in Antananarivo

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors in Antananarivo. Mahamasina Stadium where the attack was, is behind.

On the way from the airport to the hotel, the bus went silent. There were thousands of people, all busy, doing something, going somewhere, and they didn’t appear to have much. It was a sobering sight.

Despite not appearing to have much, the Madagascan people had a proud dignity about them – were not pushy and had a good sense of humour. When we started unpacking the gear from the bus on a busy street, rather than try and sell us a set of drums and vuvuzela, the vendors began playing for us – which afterwards resulted in a number of vuvuzela’s being purchased.

Over the ensuing days we:

  • Donated 40 wheelchairs and medical supplies to the Aide Manjakasoa Madagascar charity;
  • Held junior rugby coaching clinics and delivered junior rugby clothing, boots and gear, collected from rugby clubs and schools in the Arabian Gulf region, to rugby clubs in the Antananarivo region; and
  • Played an ‘exhibition match’ against the Madagascan Rugby Team, the Makis (the Malagasy name for the ‘ring-tailed lemur’), currently ranked at No.42 in the world.
Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors donate 40 wheelchairs and medical equipment to the Aide de Manjakasoa Charity, Madagascar

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors donate 40 wheelchairs and medical equipment to the Aide de Manjakasoa Charity, Madagascar

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors Rugby Coaching Clinics, Day 1, 30 June 2016.

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors Rugby Coaching Clinics, Day 1, 30 June 2016

The boots kindly donated by GoSports were a real hit!

The boots kindly donated by GoSports were a real hit! Children here are also wearing kindly donated Doha Rugby Football Club uniforms.

Highlights included:

  • Seeing the smiles and gratefulness on the children’s faces when they received new uniforms and boots.
The Dubai Hurricanes shirts kept popping up all over Antananarivo!

The Dubai Hurricanes shirts kept popping up all over Antananarivo! Both junior girl and boy rugby players had phenomenal skills!

Abu Dhabi Saracens were the first to donate a full set of junior kit.

Abu Dhabi Saracens were the first to donate a full set of junior kit

And the result in Madagascar - a full team kitted out in Abu Dhabi Saracens kit!

And the result in Madagascar – a full team kitted out in Abu Dhabi Saracens kit!

Bahrain RFC did a fantastic job of mobilising the community

Bahrain RFC did a fantastic job of mobilising the community

Bahrain RFC Kit was a real hit in Madagascar!

Bahrain RFC Kit was a real hit in Madagascar!

—Abu Dhabi Harlequins kit proved very popular, the team well coached by Guiness World Record Holder Tom Calnan

Abu Dhabi Harlequins kit proved very popular, the team well coached by Guiness World Record Holder Tom Calnan

The Dubai Hurricanes were incredibly generous, donating the most of any club!

The Dubai Hurricanes were incredibly generous, donating the most of any club!

Adam Telford, retiring UAE captain, was a fantastic asset to the mission, the Jebal Ali Dragons kit very popular

Adam Telford, retiring UAE captain, was a fantastic asset to the mission, the Jebal Ali Dragons kit also very popular!

British School of Al Khubairat Director of rugby sought to build a bridge between Antananarivo and Abu Dhabi, sharing penpal letters from Abu Dhabi.

British School of Al Khubairat Director of rugby sought to build a bridge between Antananarivo and Abu Dhabi, sharing penpal letters from Abu Dhabi.

  • Seeing how good the Madagascan juniors were at rugby – their skills, offloads, and physicality rivalled junior rugby growing up in New Zealand.
The Abu Dhabi Harlequins rugby kit was gratefully received.

The Abu Dhabi Harlequins rugby kit was gratefully received.

  • Practicing lineouts on the streets of Antananarivo, and then giving the balls to the children who scampered down the street with big grins passing and doing backline moves
Lineouts on the streets on Antananarivo, Madagascar

Lineouts on the streets on Antananarivo, Madagascar

These children took off down the street doing backline moves reminicent of the Otago Highlanders when we gave them a ball.

These children took off down the street doing backline moves reminicent of the Otago Highlanders when we gave them a ball

  • Unwrapping the wheelchairs at the Aide Aide Manjakasoa – logistically getting them there had been a mission in itself.
Unwrapping the wheelchairs at the Aide de Manjakasoa charity felt good especially after all of the hard work that went into getting them there, especially by our logistics guru Wade Quinn

Unwrapping the wheelchairs at the Aide de Manjakasoa charity felt good especially after all of the hard work that went into getting them there, especially by our logistics guru Wade Quinn

  • Playing a match against the Madagascan National side, when it looked very unlikely following the terrorist attack.
Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors V Madagascar

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors V Madagascar, 3 July 2016

 

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors V Madagascar

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors V Madagascar, 3 July 2016

 

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors v Madagascar

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors v Madagascar

  • It was wonderful to have seven of the clubs in the Gulf playing together side by side – Abu Dhabi Saracens, Abu Dhabi Harlequins, Bahrain RFC, Doha RFC, Dubai Hurricanes, Dubai Sharks, Jebal Ali Dragons, and British School of Al Khubairat –  a throwback to the Arabian Gulf days.

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors had representatives from eigh Arabian Gulf Clubs

We were lucky to play a match at all. Following the attack on the stadium, all public events were banned – understandably. Initially, months earlier, we were informed that the game was to attract over 30,000 people. After the event, however, we were informed that we could play, but with no crowd – it would have been too much of a security risk. We were disappointed of course – we all wanted to play in front of 30,000 people, but in the big picture, the objective of the mission was the charity work – and we still managed to complete that.

Finding a stadium also proved to be a mission – with the Mahamasina Stadium out of action, and the ‘Makis Stadium’ hard as a rock and with a number of sizeable holes in it, a ‘SWOT’ team of Tom Calnan, Edward Lewsey and Winston Cowie went on a mission to view other options. We didn’t have to go far – a 20 minute walk from the Hotel was the Stade Malacan, replete with lush, springy grass, and a resident bull.

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We managed to find a stadium

We managed to find a stadium, with its own hazards!

We had a venue.

On the match, there were strong performances from centres Stephen Hamilton (Abu Dhabi Saracens), Adam Wallace (Bahrain RFC), half back Ed Lewsey (Abu Dhabi Harlequins), and in the forwards Harry Seward and Graham Murphy (Abu Dhabi Harlequins). Tries were scored by centre Adam Wallace (Bahrain RFC), Winston Cowie (Abu Dhabi Saracens), Ed Lewsey (Abu Dhabi Harlequins), and Harry Seward (Abu Dhabi Harlequins).

Sam Wilson (Bahrain RFC) was named co-captain for the match with Adam Telford (Jebal Ali Dragons) – both have contributed a huge amount to Arabian Gulf rugby – and both were playing their last big matches. Adam, unfortunately had to fly back to Abu Dhabi as the match was postponed to find a suitable ground – so it was Sam Wilson who captained the side.

Sam Wilson, Bahrain RFC, was chosen as co-captain in his last match in the Arabian Gulf, bringing to a close a stellar 10 year contribution to Bahrain and Gulf rugby

Sam Wilson, Bahrain RFC, was chosen as co-captain in his last match in the Arabian Gulf, bringing to a close a stellar 10 year contribution to Bahrain and Gulf rugby

“It was a real honour to captain an Arabian Gulf side in my last match here – for me, having played against many of the guys from the clubs, in addition to having the national teams – the likes of the UAE and Qatar, its also awesome to have an Arabian Gulf side to do something charitable, play some rugby, and get to know those guys from the other clubs. It will be really good in the next year for all of these guys to now know each other when they play against each other. It’s an amazing rugby region – I’ve enjoyed my time here, and yeah, a real honour to play footy with these guys.”

The final score was 55-26 to Madagascar, the Conquistadors winning the second half 26-19.

Newspaper coverage – The National – Paul Radley

The goodwill mission was expertly covered by experienced journalist, The National newspaper’s Paul Radley.

Paul completed the below articles, and the following video which gives a real indication of the Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors Goodwill Mission 2016.

Videos

Team Dubai Sports City Training Camp Video. Click here.

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Seychelles and Madagascar Goodwill Mission Video. Click here.

Newspaper Articles

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors Rugby Mission to go ahead despite security concerns

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors Rugby Mission to go ahead despite security concerns

Mike Ballard

Mike Ballard

GoSports kind donation of rugby boots were gratefully received

GoSports kind donation of rugby boots were gratefully received

Finding an alternative pitch had its own hazards

Finding an alternative pitch had its own hazards

Practising the haka with the local children

Practising the haka with the local children

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors and the Madagascar National team

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors and the Madagascar National team

Sponsors

A massive massive thank you to all of the Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors sponsors who made this goodwill mission possible. We simply could not have done it without your kindness and generosity!

Air Seychelles Mike Ballard Foundation

Hill International Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors

Mcgettigens Mike Ballard Conquistadors

Kukri Mike Ballard Conquistadors

GoSport QBJ ok

Live Nation Middle East

Model

ALEC logo

King&Wood Mallesons

 

Malagasy Rugby

A massive thank you to Malagasy Rugby for hosting us and showing us around Madagascar – what an incredible country!

madagascar rugby union

Who could forget our boat trip across a lake full with crocodiles? And those lemurs….

Watch out for crocodiles.

Watch out for crocodiles.

 

20160705_091943 20160705_092639

 

Many thanks to all sponsors, Malagasy rugby and the Arabian Gulf rugby community.

We all feel incredibly grateful to be a part of such a wonderful rugby community – the Arabian Gulf. Together we have achieved something pretty special.

Until next year.

There are plans in the pipeline…..#onwards

Winston Cowie

Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors reach semi-finals of Dubai 7s

Rugby Union is a wonderful game. Over the weekend over 100,000 people attended the Dubai 7s, which has to be the model for other 7s tournaments around the world.
In addition to the main event – 28 international teams competing in the opening event of the Dubai 7s world series – there were 245 invitational 7s teams and 24 netball teams competing on the eight pitches and courts that surround the main stadium and form part of the same complex.
These teams included international invitational teams featuring superstars from around the world and local Arabian Gulf tournaments involving men and women from all over the Gulf, playing in open, club, social, veteran and U19 grades.
The set-up is this: half the people are in good spirits and are enjoying themselves and having that ‘7s experience’ while the other half are equally in good spirits, playing or supporting – engrossed in their own competitive tournaments.
It was in the Arabian Gulf Social Grade that the Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors found themselves, pitched against 20 other teams. And what a weekend was had.
A bunch of blokes from all over the Gulf – a mix of largely UAE based former Oxford Blues, Abu Dhabi Harlequins, Doha, Bahrain, Dubai Hurricanes and Jebel Ali Dragons – banded together and formed a 7s team to raise money to support our mate, Mike Ballard, who suffered a serious spinal injury whilst playing rugby for the Abu Dhabi Harlequins in the West Asian Club Championship Final in 2014.

Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors and the Lewsey brothers, Ed and Josh, at Dubai 7s 2015.

Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors and the Lewsey brothers, Ed and Josh, at Dubai 7s 2015.

Mike has made the courageous decision to return to Abu Dhabi to live and work, taking up a place at his old school, the “New England Centre for Children with Autism”, where his teaching greatly inspired the Autistic children and their families.
And so it was that Mike arrived back in the UAE the night before the 7s, and was thrown straight into the action of the conquistadoring bunch.

Mike Ballard and the Conquistadors

Mike Ballard and the Conquistadors.

Mike said afterwards:
“The 7s is the best weekend of the year in the UAE – I was stoked to be back after so long away doing my rehab – which wasn’t easy – so to be straight in the mix of so many people and supporting a number of teams – I was totally in the moment and loving it. The boys were there, were serious and wanted to do well. I was focused and busy for the full three days.”
Check out Mike’s awesome video interview with SPORT360 by clicking here.
Check out SPORT360s pre tournament article by clicking here and 7Days Sport supporting article by clicking here.
The Conquistadors got off to a rocky start, losing the opening pool game 19-10 to a former winner, Barasti, and going down 14-0 in the second match after two minutes to the AFL mob, the very competitive Dubai Dingoes. Things seemed grim with two minutes down on the clock, and being behind, but then it all started happening for the Conquistadors. The boys launched the comeback of comebacks in the mid-day heat, eventually winning 29-19. This meant that in the last pool game, the next day, a big win was needed to have the required points differential to proceed.
Lining up against the Pirates in the 5pm game on the Friday, the crowd was packed to the rafters, Nick Croker, Dave Kane, James Hamilton and the Doha veterans loudly supporting some of their former team mates. The boys played the near-perfect game – scoring 11 tries and winning 77-0. They marched on into the quarter finals.
Two hours later, on Pitch 2, playing against the Dubai Hurricanes, the atmosphere was electric.
Conquistador flying winger, Sam Priest, a former Canterbury club rugby star, and new arrival in Doha summed it up: “That Quarter Final was every rugby players dream. Playing under lights in front of a couple of thousand people, it was phenomenal.”

Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors v Dubai Hurricanes. Dubai 7s QF. 2015

Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors v Dubai Hurricanes. Dubai 7s QF. 2015.

The Conquistadors won the Quarter final comfortably, former Hurricanes stars Andrew Powell, Conor Coakley and Sean Carey enjoying the win against their former team mates.
And then it was onto Day 3 – a semi final against the Emirates Flying Muppets. These guys were anything but Muppets, and while we pushed them, speed on the outside was too much, the Conquistadors finally going down to the eventual competition winners, three tries to one.
It’s hard to explain, but it was just so phenomenally awesome to be involved in a competitive sports tournament like this – there were 260 teams there, that’s over 3000 people, all with a similar frame of mind – all after the same thing, which was, simply put, – playing rugby, for enjoyment and to win, and having a great deal of fun whilst doing so.
Surely Dubai should be the model for other 7s tournaments around the world – the likes of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. It adds a bit more of the grassroots ‘rugby ethos’ to the ‘7s,’ and is a bit more representative of what this wonderful game is about.
And for a bunch of blokes from all over the Gulf, who came together to support Mike Ballard – old friendships were rekindled, new friendships were made, smiles were on the dials, new injuries picked up, and plans were made to get involved next year…to do something positive for Mike and charity projects further afield….and to chase that elusive Dubai 7s victory.
Awareness was also raised of Iberian discovery theory – there are now at least 12 more rugby players (and friends) who can explain the incredible Portuguese and Spanish maritime exploits in the sixteenth century – which probably included the discovery of Australia and New Zealand by the Portuguese, and which may have also included a Spanish voyage to New Zealand pre Abel-Tasman.

Author Winston Cowie playing for the Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors, Dubai 7s, 2015.

Author Winston Cowie playing for the Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors, Dubai 7s, 2015.

Many thanks again to our very kind and generous sponsors: Hill International Claims Group; King & Wood Mallesons; Alec – Building Excellence; The One Group Middle East; The Picnic Basket and B2B Fitness for their superb support.
And last but not least, many thanks to the Mike Ballard Foundation Conquistadors of 2015:
• Graeme Murphy. Iberian Nickname: Hernan Cortes. Nationality: Irish. Teams: Abu Dhabi Harlequins. UAE Rugby international – second most capped player.
• Phil Brady: Iberian Nickname: Afonso de Albuquerque. Nationality: Irish. Teams: Abu Dhabi Harlequins. UAE International. Manager of Abu Dhabi Harlequins A (2013).
• Conor Coakley. Iberian Nickname: Vasco de Nunez Balboa. Nationality: Irish. Teams: Doha 1st XV. Dubai Hurricanes 1st XV.
• Wade Quinn. Iberian Nickname: Wombat / De Quiros. Nationality: Australian. Teams: Doha 1st XV. Bahrain 1st XV. Qatar Rugby International.
• Winston Cowie. Iberian Nickname: Vasco De Gama. Nationality: New Zealand. Teams: Oxford University. Maulers. Doha 1st XV. 37 tries. Second highest Doha try scorer ever. Top forward try scorer.
• Brendan Rawlings. Iberian Nickname: Rapid / Andres de Urdaneta. Nationality: British. Teams: Exeter Chiefs. Dubai Hurricanes.
• Edward Lewsey. Iberian-ish Nickname:  Edward Teach. Nationality: Welsh. Teams: Exeter Chiefs. Abu Dhabi Harlequins. UAE Rugby International.
• Tom Calnan. Iberian Nickname: Ferdinand Magellan. Nationality: English. Teams: Abu Dhabi Harlequins. Dual UAE international – rugby and rugby league – the eldest  dual international of all time. Guiness Book of Record holder.
• Sam Priest. Iberian Nickname: Juan Sebastian El cano. Nationality: New Zealand. Teams: College Rifles. Oxford University.
• Joel Pikari. Iberian Nickname: Francisco Pizzaro. Nationality: New Zealand. Teams: Abu Dhabi Harlequins. Maulers. UAE Rugby International.
• Andy Powell. Iberian Nickname: Hernando de Soto  Nationality: New Zealand. Teams: Dubai Hurricanes. Nominated for Arabian Gulf player of the season.
• Sean Carey. Iberian Nickname: Christavao Mendonca. Nationality: Irish. Teams: Dubai Hurricanes. Lansdown – National Irish Champs.                                                                 Phil Cronin. Iberian Nickname: Christopher Columbus. Nationality: Irish Teams: Doha 1st XV. Jebel Ali Dragons.
• Mike Ballard: Iberian Nickname: Henry the Navigator. Nationality: USA.Teams: Abu Dhabi Harlequins. Nominated for Arabian Gulf player of the season.

The Conquistadors will be seeing you soon. #onwards

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