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Bahrain head to Kandy as Asia Rugby Western Clubs Champions League begins

The competition, now the traditional curtain-raiser to the rugby season in the UAE and Gulf, kicks off in Sri Lanka as Kandy host West Asia Cup winners Bahrain

Matt Jones 2018/08/29

The new Gulf rugby season begins in earnest this weekend with the return of the Asia Rugby Western Clubs Champions League.

The competition, which has become the traditional curtain-raiser to the rugby season in the UAE and Gulf as a whole, kicks off in Sri Lanka as Kandy host West Asia Cup winners Bahrain on Friday.

Abu Dhabi Harlequins also feature at the mini three-team tournament – receiving an invite after West Asia Premiership champions Jebel Ali Dragons decided against taking part.

It means that the same three teams as last year are taking part, with Mike McFarlane’s Quins looking to defend their crown and lift it for the third season in a row.

This year, all three teams will play once at home, after Bahrain travelled to both Kandy and Abu Dhabi last year to ensure the competition went ahead.

Kandy welcome Louie Tonkin’s Bahrain – who hoisted the West Asia Cup in 2017/18 – on Friday, with Kandy heading to the UAE capital to play Quins at Zayed Sports City next Friday, September 7. The tournament concludes the following Friday, September 14, when Quins travel to Bahrain.

The competition for trophies looks to be wide open in 2018/19 after the major honours were shared between four teams last term – breaking Quins’ utter dominance of the rugby landscape in the Gulf in 2016/17.

Dragons claimed the main Premiership title, while Bahrain won the Cup. Dubai Exiles claimed the Dubai Sevens crown, while the UAE Premiership was also theirs.

Dubai Hurricanes won the West Asia Trophy and Quins lifted the inaugural UAE Premiership Cup and kept the Champions League title.

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Abu Dhabi Harlequins Asia Rugby Western Clubs Champions League Bahrain louie tonkin Mike McFarlane