Women’s rugby takes Abu Dhabi by storm

Rugby is often seen as a masculine sport, but the Harlequins Women’s squad is changing all that and is holding its own on many levels.  

harlequins women team rugby

Abu Dhabi World’s contributor Tamra Clarke  heads to the sidelines and gets up close with three female players from the Harlequins Women’s squad.



Clodadh Cleary

Clodadh Cleary is a 27-year-old sports enthusiast and experienced rugby player who sought out the Harlequins from the moment she landed in Abu Dhabi in 2016.

She speaks fondly of her time playing with a local team in her homeland of Ireland.

“I enjoyed everything about it, the comradery, the respect shown on and off the pitch and of course the great social scene.”

It took just one training session with the Harlequins for Clodadh to get hooked.

How has being a member of the team positively affected your life?

It comes with the territory of living the expat life. You’re away from your family and friends and it can be quite lonely.

However, over the last three years, I’ve gained a new family. These girls have become my best friends, the people I turn to if I ever need support.

Training with the girls also keeps me fit. It pushes and motivates me to be better. 

What are your goals for the upcoming season?

I’m currently recovering from an injury, so my goal is very simple this year, to be able to put on a Quin’s jersey again and get some game time. 

Why should other women join?

There are a multitude of reasons why women should join rugby (specially to play with the Quins).

Rugby is inclusive. There really is a place for everyone on the pitch; it’s for all shapes and sizes. You get to work out with your friends twice a week, and play tournaments at the weekends.

The social aspect of building friendships will last a lifetime! 


Ghazal Bakjaji

Ghazal, a 25-year-old from Syria, was drawn to what she refers to as the ‘warmth’ of the team and how well they worked together.

Aside from positive team dynamics, she credits the quality of training and the athleticism of the players as key factors for joining.

What inspired you to join the Harlequins women’s rugby squad? 

After attending the first session of training, I was determined to join because I felt welcomed and instantly become a member of a supportive family, not just a team.

How has being a member of the team positively affected your life?

It’s definitely pushed me to interact and socialise with many people from all types of backgrounds and eased the stress of the weekdays, knowing that I will go in the evening and engage in good sport with good people.

What are your goals for the upcoming season?

Being totally new to the sport I’m really hoping to get better at it and prove myself as a player, also build more friendships and meet new people.

Why should other women join?

I believe in always seeking comfort in discomfort and that’s what I found with the Quins; great sportsmanship, amazing, positive community and an incredible way of de-stressing and unwinding from everyday stresses.


Casey D’Entremont

Casey D’Entremont is a 38-year-old American mother of two who grew tired of the regular gym routine.

“Once my second baby went to nursery, I was finally ready to focus on getting myself fit and active again.

I had joined a few gyms and taken lots of fitness classes around Abu Dhabi but still felt like I was missing out on the fun of actually playing a sport.

“One evening I happened to be at Zayed Sports City and spotted the Harlequins training and I thought wow, that looks fun.“

Casey then reached out to the Harlequins and immediately became involved.

She liked it so much that she signed one of her daughters up for the junior squad and now rugby is a family affair. 

How has being a member of the team positively affected your life?

There are so many ways!  I’ve gained countless friends from all levels of the club and from all over the world. 

Playing rugby is constantly pushing me beyond my limits mentally and physically, and I’m learning every season that I’m stronger than I ever imagined.

It’s also changed the way I feel even on our off-days and during the off-season.

I eat well and treat myself better because I know my body is working hard for me and deserves the best. 

Honestly, joining the Harlequins has been a personal game-changer for me and a huge highlight of my eight years in Abu Dhabi.

What are your goals for the upcoming season? 

I’d really like to do my part in making our squad really fun and welcoming to new players. 

On a personal note I’m pushing hard to level up my playing skills and working to get myself super strong.  

Why should other women join?

Rugby is a great sport for women of literally all shapes and sizes.

Unlike some sports there is no one body type or size that equals fitness to play, so I would like women to know first and foremost, never to count themselves out as ‘not fit enough’ or ‘too small,’ or anything else.

Whether you’re big, small, quick, slow, or anywhere in between, we have a role for you if you want it.

Joining the Harlequins will give you a big push towards a fit and active lifestyle, a full social calendar, and a totally new outlook on yourself and your abilities.

Visit: abudhabiquins.com 


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