Muscat RFC Celebrate 50th Anniversary

Published On: 8 Aug 21By 3.6 min read
Visit YallaRugby.com for up to date scores and league table standings
Visit YallaRugby.com for up to date scores and league table standings

One of the oldest rugby clubs in the Middle East region marked a significant milestone this summer, as Muscat RFC celebrated its 50th anniversary.

One of the oldest rugby clubs in the Middle East region marked a significant milestone this summer, as Muscat RFC celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Like so many events and sporting activities scheduled over the last 18 months, celebrations did not take place as anyone would have hoped, but it’s not the first challenge the club has had to face over the last half century.

Muscat RFC was founded in July of 1971, on the back of an influx of European expatriates to Oman following the accession of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

Despite the presence of the late Sultan as patron of the club and occasional spectator of games, there was no royal treatment in those early days as telegraph poles with metal pipes served as goal posts for the original sand pitch at Wattayah, where the first clubhouse was opened in 1974.

The club relocated to Al Khuwair in 1983 and celebrated by capturing a first Gulf Cup title at the end of that season. Further cup successes followed in 1986 and 1990 – to go with the club’s Gulf League success of 1979/80 – but the facilities were sadly destroyed by fire in 1995.

Thanks to the work of club members and the support of some local contractors, a new clubhouse was soon established and officially opened by former British and Irish Lions captain, Willie John McBride.

The sale of the clubhouse land in 2011 was a big blow and, coinciding with end of the Arabian Gulf Rugby Football Union (AGRFU) and the emergence of several powerhouse UAE outfits, left Muscat RFC struggling to keep pace.

However, the club spirit and the dedication of its members have never waned, and after a number of years keeping the Gulf Conference afloat, Muscat’s first XV secured more regular competitive fixtures by being added to the UAE domestic league in 2019.

“After several years of effort, the Ministry of Sport has agreed to recognise rugby as an official sport in Oman and approved the establishment of the Oman Rugby Committee as its governing body.”

Central to that happening was club President and chairman of the Oman Rugby Committee, Nabs Al Busaidi, who outlines how that famous club spirit has continued over the last 18 months.

“It’s been a tough year, but we have been incredibly lucky that our members have supported the club during this unusual time, and we are looking forward to bringing back full contact training and fixtures for both the men’s and women’s team over the coming months.”

“The 50th anniversary is a big deal to each member of the club,” he continues. “Although the current restrictions have put a temporary pause to celebrations, we have a new social committee who are looking to create 50 social events over the next year, including the MRFC ball in summer 2022.”

Never one to shy away from a challenge himself, the 50th anniversary celebrations aren’t the only thing on the agenda for Al Busaidi and the recently established national committee.

“With a decreasing number of expats in Oman, unfortunately we are seeing an inevitable decrease in number of rugby players,” he explains.

“At one stage, there were at least eight rugby clubs in Oman, but the sport never caught on with the local population. With rugby sevens becoming an Olympic sport however, there is a compelling reason to promote the sport amongst the Omani youth, and for Omanis to want to play.”

“After several years of effort, the Ministry of Sport has agreed to recognise rugby as an official sport in Oman and approved the establishment of the Oman Rugby Committee as its governing body.”

“Despite the suspension of most group activities during COVID, the groundwork for rugby development has continued and touch rugby is proving very popular, particularly for those new to the game,” he adds.

“We now have the genesis of a regular social touch league, which we hope to have up and running next season as one of three core areas of focus, alongside youth development and the establishment of rugby teams within the national military.”

Between anniversary celebrations and the development of the game among the local population, here’s to a big year ahead for Muscat RFC.

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