BAHRAIN Rugby Football Club’s (BRFC) first XV secured first place in the West Asia Premiership in rather bizarre circumstances, after their scheduled visit to reigning league champions Jebel Ali Dragons was forfeited by the host side.
Despite still being in the running for a top-four play-off spot and being in position to field three senior men’s teams on a regular basis, the Dragons have cited a lack of suitably experienced front-row players as reason not to fulfil their fixture in what is the penultimate round of the league stage.
As per competition rules, Bahrain have been awarded a 0-30 bonus point victory as a result of the forfeit, thus ending any mathematical possibility of nearest challengers Abu Dhabi Harlequins chasing down their lead at the top of the standings.
The nature of that result has been something of a difficult one to take for Bahrain head coach Louie Tonkin and his charges however, as they had been looking forward to pitting themselves against the reigning champions for a third time this season and capping what has been a hard-earned triumph on the field of play.
Indeed, the team can take great pride in what has already been a magnificent season, which kicked off with a visit to Sri Lankan kingpins Kandy in the Western Club Champions League last August and has featured only one defeat to Dubai Exiles back in October.
This is the first time since the Gulf Premiership-winning season of 2009-2010 that Bahrain have finished as top dogs in the region but attentions will quickly turn to the West Asia Cup semi-final play-off, scheduled for March 1.
Ironically, as things stand, the Dragons will be due to visit Bahrain for that last-four encounter, unless Dubai Hurricanes can upset the form book in their final two games against Harlequins and Bahrain respectively.