Now leaving the den
Former Wales and Lions scrum-half departs Jebel Ali after just six months
Former Wales and British & Irish Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips has left Jebel Ali Dragons by mutual consent after six months in charge of the reigning West Asia champions.
The signing of the former Scarlets, Blues, Ospreys and Racing 92 No9 caused shockwaves in UAE rugby when it was announced in June, with the 36-year-old taking over from another famous name in Henry Paul – who left to be another former Welsh international Kingsley Jones’ No2 at Canada.
After delivering the West Asia Premiership title last season – Dragons’ maiden trophy in four years – they have struggled under Phillips in 2018/19. They have lost five of their 10 games this season sit fourth in the standings, a distant 19 points off table-topping Bahrain, and were dumped out of the Dubai Sevens at the semi-finals by champions Dubai Hurricanes.
Phillips has already been replaced, former Scotland Under-16 and Caledonia academy coach Colin Philips named his successor. The new man got off to a winning start on Friday as Dragons beat Dubai Eagles 54-31 as the Premiership season resumed.
Despite their travails, chairman Stuart Quinn insisted club and head coach parted on amicable terms, revealing the “Mike Phillips effect” has had a huge impact on the club.
“Mike and myself sat down about what was going to be happening in the second half of the season,” Quinn told Sport360°.
“We’re still in all four competitions so we wanted to talk about what we were going to do. But with Mike’s fledgling academy, media duties and new baby, we both realised he wasn’t going to be able to dedicate the time to the role that he felt it deserved.
“With a new-born baby and a lack of availability throughout the upcoming Six Nations, it was going to make it hard for both of us, so we agreed it was for the best.
“We’ve loved having him and he was great for us. He wished us the best of luck and we’ve now moved on to Colin, who’s a hands-on type of guy. The club’s doubled in size this year with the kids section taking off. It’s been great all-round having him. It’s obviously sad but to see him go but life moves on and we wish him all the best with his academy.”
Phillips is the joint sixth most capped Welshman of all-time with 94 games for the Dragons. He represented the Lions during the 2009 and 2013 tours to South Africa and Australia respectively.
In Friday’s other games, Bahrain’s barnstorming campaign continued with a ninth win in 10 games, defeating Dubai Hurricanes 44-19 at The Sevens, while secondplaced Abu Dhabi Harlequins kept in touch with a thrilling 57-31 victory at home to Dubai Exiles.
Mike drop: Phillips has left Dragons, having replaced Henry Paul as the club’s director of rugby in June.