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Thursday, 25 August – Abu Dhabi: New Zealand Rugby’s (NZR) famed Small Blacks brand is going global with the Abu Dhabi Cricket & Sports Hub (ADCSH) in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) becoming the historic first international home of the acclaimed junior coaching resource.
Small Blacks Abu Dhabi will launch this month becoming NZR’s only officially licensed grassroots development programme outside of New Zealand. Girls and boys between three to 16 years will be able to become Small Blacks Abu Dhabi members, with no previous rugby experience needed to enrol in any age group.

Abu Dhabi Cricket & Sports Hub CEO Matt Boucher said: “We couldn’t be prouder that New Zealand Rugby has entrusted us with the Small Blacks’ first international out-post and look forward to building on our existing relationship to establish a longer-term partnership between us.
“At Abu Dhabi Cricket & Sports Hub we look to partner Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the world’s premium rights holders to host international sport in the UAE capital, while providing a world-class community-focused facility for a growing customer base of 760,000 annually who play the 35 sports that we offer.
“The All Blacks are the standard bearers for international rugby and one of the most recognisable brands in world sport. We share their inherent values of integrity, teamwork, and community enhancement. This historic partnership demonstrates the hub’s deep commitment to providing exceptional sporting opportunities to our community and to ensuring Abu Dhabi’s name resonates with the world’s greatest sporting brands and aspiring talent.”
Small Blacks Abu Dhabi will launch this month becoming NZR’s only officially licensed grassroots development programme outside of New Zealand. Girls and boys between three to 16 years will be able to become Small Blacks Abu Dhabi members, with no previous rugby experience needed to enrol in any age group.
NZR General Manager Community Rugby Steve Lancaster added: “The Small Blacks brand has been developed over more than 20 years with thousands of Kiwi kids and coaches having fun participating in rugby and developing their skills, including numerous All Blacks and Black Ferns. When we got the chance to share the Small Blacks experience with young boys and girls in the UAE we couldn’t wait to get started.”
Through the Small Blacks, NZR has carefully curated a participation-based community programme, with an overarching philosophy that the game must be safe and enjoyable for all.
Small Blacks Abu Dhabi will use this blueprint to engage and educate children across the region, allowing young players the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills as they progress through the age groups, with skill development and stringent safety measures a major focus for the coaches.
Once launched, Small Blacks Abu Dhabi will formally absorb Abu Dhabi Cricket & Sports Hub’s 10-month- old rugby product, with 245 boys and girls being led by 12 World Rugby-certified coaches under the direction of New Zealand-born Aaron Persico, who represented Italy 56 times and played at the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
Small Blacks Abu Dhabi will participate in regional tournaments and UAERF rugby fixtures across the season, which runs from 5 September 2022 to 6 May 2023. Seasonal prices are AED 1,450 (U4-U8) and AED 1,950 (U9-U16), additional indoor and outdoor specialized skills camps will run throughout the season to keep rugby running all-year round.
Players can enroll today and interested parents can contact 0507201278 and log on to to get involved and find out more information about family membership options.

About Abu Dhabi Cricket & Sports Hub:
Abu Dhabi Cricket & Sports Hub (ADCSH), previously known as Abu Dhabi Cricket (ADC), is a world-class, multi-purpose facility in the capital of the United Arab Emirates that provides a valued service and exceptional sporting opportunities for elite and social athletes, alike. Though cricket is at its core, the hub’s world-class facilities are available to multi-discipline sportsmen and women of all ages, nationalities, and abilities. Every week more than 14,000 community athletes use the hub and its wide range of services, including the state- of-the-art Bodyline gym, across 38 sports ranging from basketball, tennis, football, netball to gymnastics, padel tennis, and volleyball. The diversity of offering has made ADCSH the UAE’s leading sports hub and its fully licensed restaurant, The Boundary, has become a vibrant social spot for men and women of all ages and nationalities.
ADCSH is supported by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, operating under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Bin Mubarak Al Nahayan and is home to the iconic Zayed Cricket Stadium – a venue famous around the world for hosting the very best of international cricket. During the Covid pandemic, the hub become a focal centre for international cricket with Zayed Cricket Stadium hosting 139 games across four cricketing formats. During the pandemic, the stadium welcomed the world’s largest tournaments and tours, including the 2020 & 2021 Indian Premier League, 2021 Pakistan Super League, 2020 & 2021 Abu Dhabi T10 and 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
ADCSH’s international flagship event is the bold Abu Dhabi T10 – which brings together over 120 of world cricket’s biggest names to compete in the game’s fastest format. The Covid-secure hosting of the 2021 edition drew over 80,000 fans across the record-breaking 15-day event. The Tolerance Oval received ICC accreditation to host ODI and T20I matches in 2022, while the Mohan Oval is the home of both the Zayed Cricket Academy and all ADCSH’s community cricket.
About Abu Dhabi Sports Council:
Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) was established in 2006 by President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

ADSC is aligned to the emirate’s leadership vision to develop sport and youth activities. The Council promotes an effective, emirate-wide sports calendar that stimulates the desire to participate in quality sports among all Abu Dhabi residents and helps the talented and motivated reach their sporting potential.

The sports council supports the organisation and hosting of many international sporting events in Abu Dhabi. These include the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, UAE Tour, WTA Abu Dhabi International Women’s Tennis Championship, World Triathlon Championship, Leaders Sports Business Summit, Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, and IJF Abu Dhabi Judo Grand Slam.

Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon, Spartan World Championship, World Swimming Championships, Mubadala World Tennis Championships, and many other international events cement the reputation and position of Abu Dhabi as a global destination for sport.

ADSC believes that global and community sporting events provide many positive opportunities, most notably the encouragement of all segments and groups of society to practice sports activities. Make the practice of sport a daily lifestyle, representing its positive impact on public health.

ADSC firmly believe that sporting events deliver a host of benefits for the emirate and its residents. These include improved health and wellness, the building of community spirit, the discovering of local talent and enhancing the reputation of the emirate as a world-class sporting destination.
About New Zealand Rugby:
Founded in 1892, New Zealand Rugby strives to inspire and unify New Zealanders through rugby. Our goal is to lead, support, grow and promote New Zealand’s national game, putting rugby at the heart of every community. NZR’s high performance system strives to promote competitions our fans love, nurture talent that can represent our Teams in Black with mana and be world leading on and off the field.

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