RAK Rugby ‘overwhelmed’ by support from the UAE rugby community following death of Nick Young

Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Saracens played a memorial game on Thursday, while plenty of other events are planned as rugby community in UAE shows its support

Matt Jones 2018/05/29

RAK Rugby have been “overwhelmed” by the amount of support received from the UAE rugby community following the death of player Nick Young.

The Australian died on Sunday, April 29, in the aftermath of suffering a head injury while playing at the Sharjah 10s days earlier.

The club announced his death on its Facebook page on the Sunday evening, with the tournament postponed after Young had been badly hurt while playing for RAK’s vets side against Arabian Knights at the famous tournament, which traditionally brings down the curtain on the UAE rugby season.

“We have been moved by the overwhelming response from the UAE and gulf rugby community with messages of condolence and help,” said Simon Williams, the RAK chairman.

“And I know it has also meant a lot to Nick’s family who have been in touch and following progress.”

Reaction to the biggest tragedy to hit rugby in the Emirates in recent years has at least resulted in a heartwarming swell of community spirit pouring in, with clubs from around the country rallying round RAK.

Fierce Abu Dhabi rivals Quins and Saracens put their differences aside last Thursday as they came together to play a memorial game to honour Young at Al Ghazal.

Nick Young (back row, far left) playing for RAK at the Dubai Sevens last year. Photo: © RAK Rugby 2017

Williams added: “We were particularly touched by the gesture from the Sarries and Quins to play a memorial match on Thursday and I know our president Ken Neves said he was amazed at the personal messages he got from players and supporters from both clubs, as well as being impressed by the large turnout.

“It means a lot to us and Nick’s family to see this support and to know the community is rallying round us.”

Sarries player and former Quins men’s team manager and junior coach Richard Croft came up with the idea for the game, and was thrilled to play a part in enhancing rugby’s reputation as a sport that brings people together.

“It was an honour and privilege to have hosted Quins in a fantastically hard local derby on Thursday evening,” said the Etihad employee, who hopes the fixture can become an annual event, with plans afoot to have teams playing for a trophy in tribute to Young.

“It was great to see such a large community turn out, both local and rugby related, to support the event for such a worthwhile cause.

“All of us hope it made a small difference to Nick‘s family. We would like to consider turning this into an annual memorial game in the future, playing for a Nick Young trophy.”

Meanwhile, this Friday, RAK and Knights will once again meet in Sharjah to play a friendly game they also hope will prove to be a bonding experience for all three clubs.

“It’s part of a wider plan to support Nick’s family and to bring both clubs together as Nick was playing in a joint RAK/Knights team when the incident occurred,” added Williams.

“Friday’s game is RAK Rugby v Arabian Knights, 19.30 kick-off at Sharjah Wanderers.

“We look forward to seeing all the clubs and as many supporters as possible coming along on Friday as well as attending the inaugural Nick Young Memorial golf tournament on September 7 at Tower Links in RAK.”

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Abu Dhabi Harlequins Abu Dhabi Saracens Nick Young RAK Rugby Richard Croft Simon Williams