Dubai: Fitness will be a key area of improvement for UAE rugby coach Duncan Hall following his side's fourth-place finish in the Asian Five Nations last Saturday.
The UAE only survived relegation — despite a fighting 47-21 loss to South Korea in Seoul — because fellow strugglers Kazakhstan fell to a 55-0 defeat in Hong Kong.
Their performance is a notch down after they finished third in this competition last year, in what was their debut since breaking from the Arabian Gulf Rugby Football Union (AGRFU) from the start of last year.
Hall said of his side, who return for pre-season on July 1 for forthcoming sevens and 15s events: "Not everyone will have the natural muscle fibre, but they can at least be aerobically fitter and stronger."
Of Saturday's performance, Hall said: "We finished with a very good performance, and after 60-65 minutes we were still only four tries to three. Korea finished second and beat Hong Kong, so this match was a good yardstick to prove we have improved immensely since our first match against Hong Kong.
He added: "A lot of people will only look at the scoreboard but we have to be realistic in what we can do. We would have preferred to meet our target of two wins, but in the end we were just short of a bonus point against Korea which would have given us the point equivalent of two wins. We're proud to have stepped up and pushed Asia's No 2 right to the last quarter. We're now motivated to make the necessary improvements."
UAE 10 Hong Kong 85
Kazakhstan 0 Japan 87
Hong Kong 19 South Korea 21
Japan 106 UAE 3
UAE 46 Kazakhstan 31
South Korea 8 Japan 52
Japan 67 Hong Kong 0
Kazakhstan 17 South Korea 87
South Korea 47 UAE 21
Hong Kong 55 Kazakhstan 0