Rugby set for Abu Dhabi debut

Wasps on the attack

Wasps on the attack

Wasps and Harlequins are set to play the first match between two English clubs in a foreign country as the London clubs face each other at the Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi in the LV Cup.

Although the match will not be an exhibition match as Wasps, the home side that have moved the fixture away from their usual home of Adams Park, it is unlikely to be a fully enthralling match between to two Aviva Premiership sides.

Since the LV Cup, played between both English clubs and Welsh regions, was moved to be played over the weekends of international fixtures it has been considered a competition meriting only secondary focus from a number of clubs. This can be seen by the fact that the final, previously played at Twickenham took place at Sixways Stadium, home of Worcester Warriors, in front of just over 9,000 fans as Northampton took on Gloucester.

None the less, Wasps and Quins will be looking to put on a good fixture as they look to sell rugby, and more importantly Aviva Premiership Rugby and their club’s own brands, to a new emerging sports market in the form of the United Arab Emirates.

The match will be played at a 5,000 capacity stadium that was built especially for the occasion at the Emirates Palace Hotel. Such a stadium being built for a one off event demonstrates the enthusiasm that the Emirates can have for new sports, and it is likely that if the fixture is a success further such events will be organised throughout the UAE.

This is not the first example of competitive sports fixtures being played abroad. This March NBA franchises the New Jersey Nets and the Toronto Raptors will play at London’s O2 Arena, while since 2007 the NFL International Series has taken place each year at Wembley Stadium, the last match being played between the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos, the 49ers eventually winning 24-16.

Wasps: Wallace; Haughton, Jacobs, Waldouck, Varndell; Atkinson, Berry; Beech, Lindsay, Broster, Veale, Cannon, Birkett, Jones, Vunipola.

Replacements: Mayhew, Ruwers, Baker, Launchbury, Betsen, Davies, Walder, Wade.

Harlequins: Williams; Camacho, Lowe, Turner-Hall, Smith; Evans, Dickson; Jones, Gray, Lambert, Kohn, Browne, Fa’asalavu, Skinner, York.

Replacements: Cairns, Collier, Andress, Stevenson, Trayfoot, Moore, Clegg, Urdapilleta.

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