Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Infamous Muscat Rugby Club to re-open this weekend

Muscat Rugby Club is a famous boozing joint, where occasional rugby is played too, out in Al Khuwair near the ABA school. It used to be a regular place for expats to go watch sport and get smashed on cheap drinks.

But, last year when a drunken crew of visiting Kuwait-based expat rugby boys abused the ROP for trying to interrupt their bacchanalian revels, after their post-match party had spilled into the street outside (with stories of a few of the players being in drag for some reason), the ROP came back with their own version of ‘fcuk you too’ and simply closed the whole place down, withdrawing their license.

Which seems fair enough.

But I’ve been told this info obviously hadn’t reached the big boss. When an Englishman, who was known by the Diwan to be a rugby fan, was meeting with a senior aide to His Majesty a few months ago on an unrelated matter, he was apparently asked how the Muscat rugby club was doing. On being told that it had been closed down by the ROP for ages, the aide looked a bit ill and scurried to HM, returning to say that the club had been a gift from HM to the British people of Muscat and that the situation would be sorted asap. Clearly no-one had bothered to think the club’s closure was something HM needed to know.

And so, it’s officially open for business again chaps. With a bit of a tightening of the rules naturally, and I especially like the revised guidelines on "how not to piss off the good officers of His Majesties Royal Oman Police after imbibing 12 pints of Stella while wearing a skirt". Membership is a quite reasonable 60 rials a year, entitling you to enjoy subsidized alcohol in the company of extremely inebriated British and Ex-Colonial rugby lads, who generally enjoy a bit of full contact ball-playing with their pals. If that’s what you’re into, there is no finer establishment in the Sultanate.

What most expats don’t seem to know that almost all the pubs and drinking holes in Oman have a regular watcher from Internal Security keeping an eye on things. Ever noticed the quiet middle aged Omani guy, usually in the corner at the bar on his own, quietly nursing a pint of beer and looking bored out of his skull? That’s him. It’s mainly to keep an eye on the younger Omani lads and to call the ROP riot squad in a timely fashion if things get out of hand, or to know if one of the less constrained HHs [His Highnesses] from the extended Royal Family is getting a bit wayward. Have a friendly chat with him next time, and you may make a very useful acquaintance.

Perhaps I'll see you at the MRC...


  1. Nice tip on the corner-lurker. I thought they were there to pick up loose boys (and occasionally girls) for personal pleasures...

  2. I have followed your diatribe for several months and as an expat in Oman i appreciate your efforts and information on various subjects.

    However as a key member of MRFC for the past 4 years and with a specific knowledge of the ACTUAL reasons for the clubs closure i must correct you on several points.Please do not join in the usual gossip about the actual closure of the club. Despite a very 'enthusiatic visit over several days" from Kuwait their visit was nothing to do with the club closure, it was never mentioned in any correspondence with the ROP. The actual reason was for lack of permissions for several events over a period of weeks.

    Sbsequently we have had several meetings with key personnel in both ROP and circles above and have been granted our licence subject to several strong enforcements. Whilst I appreciate your efforts in titilating the blog site which i greatly enjoy, you would do well not to assume that everyone asscoiated with the club is a lager lout and a hoodlum, we are a club trying to support mini rugby, senior rugby and as one of the founding members of the AGRFU we take our role very seriously. Yes we like a libation and do not hide the fact that we are competitive in nature with other organisations re pricing but we have a sole ambition of promoting rugby in the country. We currently have 2 Arabian Gulf representitives in the club and i believe we will have more in the next few years. Your comments re ROP 'visitors' is also incorrect. The ROP are 'given' 20 membership passes as per their requirements, most of the local members are excellent guests and whilst we may have a few bad apples like any other establishment we are aware of our faults. The club is as yet not open and may not ever reopen, your information is incorrect and if you want clarification please visit our website and contact the administrator for more information.

    I enjoy your blog but please do not continue to pander to the gossiping in Oman. Support the 'only' Rugby Club in the country or visit us and see the real club.

    cheers.. sic

  3. Boxster
    No worries. I encourage you to chat with them. They really are nice guys in general, but don’t expect them to confirm they’re internal security. And of course, some of them are just your standard bar flies having a pint and getting away from the wife…

    Well, thanks for the info, but I still maintain the trigger for the licence withdrawal was the rude behaviour of your Kuwait visitors, even if the ROP used various other technicalities to justify the removal of your licence, as they would. Nor would it be difficult – underage drinking was always a common sight in the bar on Wednesdays and Thursdays I recall.

    Both of us also failed to mention that HM Sultan is the official patron the MRC. Or at least he was.

    I also fail to see where I gave the impression that I ‘assume that everyone associated with the club is a lager lout and a hoodlum’. You seem a little sensitive there.

    On the ROP guests, again, I didn’t mention them at all, nor impune their behaviour. The ROP officers are well known for their common appreciation of ‘a libation’. However, perhaps you should appreciate the difference between the ROP and their various branches, and Omani Internal Security, who are a totally separate entity (although they would have access to the ROP info and memberships). Internal Security have a presence in all the licenced bars, and I’d assume yours too, but the original comment was meant to be an aside on pubs in general and not MRC specific.

    And on MRC, and rugby, I applaud your club’s efforts to encourage rugby, and am a supporter of the club in general. But, yes, I take some journalistic licence to poke a bit of fun, you know? So get the stick out of your butt. Its just a bit of fun.

    And use a NICKNAME!

  4. Anon- I've been an occasional and reluctant guest at the rugby club for seven years or so, and the impression I have is not a good one.

    I can honestly say that I hope the Rugby Club never gets thier Liqour license back. The behavior of the club members and guests is apalling, both on location and off.

    Weekend evenings at the rugby club invariably seem to feature fights.

    The number of drunk underage kids, (many in the 16-18 age group)makes the Rock Bottom and the Intercontinental seem strict by comparison.

    You guys have repeatedly served patrons drink until they are too inebriated to stand, let alone drive. Yet drive they do.

    The Rugby club "ball" is better known for the fistfights / homoerotic wrestling than for anything that would actualy resemble a ball or civilised entertainment. Really, what a fabulous bunch of ambassadors you guys are for the west, and the British in particular.

    I can recall a ball a few years ago where a female rugby club staff member (coach?) attacked a young woman, lascerating her scalp and causing bruising and a lot of bleeding. The attack was completley unprovoked, and I know, because I witnessed it.

    Your reaction was to prevent the police from being called, covering up the matter, and sending snotty replies to patrons of the ball who wrote to you expressing their concern over the handling of the incident.

    You should count yourself lucky the incident didn't occur in Britan, where you would have had your asses sued off for your reaction to the attack.

    Since you say that the reopening is as of yet undecided, I'll be speaking to my contacts in the ROP and seeing what I can do to help block it.

    The Rugby Club bar is something we can do without in muscat.

  5. Having read the threads, I really feel that I should reply to Suburban :

    "I've been an occasional and reluctant guest at the rugby club for seven years or so, and the impression I have is not a good one."

    An occasional and reluctant guest - no bias there then - why if it was so awful the first time did you return??

    "The behavior of the club members and guests is apalling, both on location and off"

    That would be ALL the members and guests would it, that you witnessed on your "occasional and relutctant" attendance - name any bar in Muscat that incidences have never occurred?

    "The number of drunk underage kids, (many in the 16-18 age group)makes the Rock Bottom and the Intercontinental seem strict by comparison.

    You guys have repeatedly served patrons drink until they are too inebriated to stand, let alone drive. Yet drive they do"

    If people are drink driving, that is not the fault of the bar- these are grown ups, who have to take responsibility for their own actions - I would suggest that you go to any bar in Muscat, and see such behaviour - on many occasions at the Rugby Club I saw the manager take keys away from people and call taxis for them - not sure that that is ever offered at Rock Bottoms or the Intercon - are you?

    As far as the ball that you mentioned, can't comment, wasn't at the one...but surely, if someone was attacked, it is up to them to call the police - there is no way the club could prevent it - - and why would the club be sued....

    "The Rugby Club bar is something we can do without in muscat"

    I presume the "we" that you use is the Royal "we", where you have been given the right to speak on behalf of all the citizens of Muscat?!! I'm sorry, did I miss that democratic election??

    You see Suburban, Muscat Rugby Club is not just the bar - if it was, then Muscat Rugby team would have folded when the bar was closed. The clue is in the name - Rugby - there are many people in Muscat who enjoy watching, or taking part in the game. The fact is, that the income from the bar allows the teams to take part in competitions, allows the club to lay on training sessions for children, and provides a social meeting place for like minded people that enjoy the sport. You obviously don't.

    Therefore, the answer is simple - stay away....

    Ps, you really are living up to your biog...cranky and mean

  6. Anon.

    Rugby club brilliance at it's finest. Your argument is so convincing and fabulous one marvels at the fact that the Bush administration hasn't named you spokesperson.

    In order:

    1) Reluctant guest. Sometimes you gotta go where your friends want to go.

    2) For better or worse, Your club members represent you. It's up to you guys what kind of people you allow membership to, and what kind of impression those members make to the wider community.

    3) So, lots of drunk underage kids. Any comment? you missed that one.

    4) firstly, I would hope that the club would hold itself to a higher standard than the local hotels. Secondly, that's a rather pathetic defence you have proffered. It's OK to get people so drunk they can hardly stand, and then allow them onto the streets because hey' they are adults!

    5)The attack was real, and pathetically handeled, and if you have been a "senior" member with the rugby club for four years, you would likely remember it. You could speak to Peter Knox or Andy Physer regarding the incident, they were directly involved in the (non) resolution.

    6) Hey, you guys have a voice, and so do I. This may not be democratic, but think of it as a supreme court ruling. The various voices will be weighed by the various authourities, and the prevailing voice will win.

    6.1) I quote" The fact is, that the income from the bar allows the teams to take part in competitions, allows the club to lay on training sessions for children, "

    You make it sound like you are curing cancer or providing foster homes to orphaned street children. The rugby club is populated by wealthy white guys, most of whom could easily afford to subsidise a new grass feild, a kid's league, or a piss-up bus junket to Abu Dhabi.

    7) I like rugby, I like sport in general.

    8)Speaking of my blog, I'll be posting this issue tomorrow, and if I can scrape it up from the folks concerned, some correspondance from your president regarding the Attack at the Rugby ball.

    You haven't seen cranky and mean yet, baby.

  7. Suburban,

    Regarding your comments re my posting -as a matter of fact, I am not a member of the rugby club committee, I am a social member of the club, and at no time did I say that I was a senior member for 4 years - (your comment in 5) - maybe you have me confused with the first anonymous poster??

    Of course you are entitled to your views, and you have made some very valid points - especially regarding the minority who do stupid things, such as drink driving, that then tars all the club members with the same brush. But, that is the minority. And this is not a problem unique to the Rugby Club - I can think of other clubs in Muscat where this happens. This does not make it right, but is a fact that it happens.

    Regarding your comment about being OK to get people so drunk they can hardly stand - the club does not make people get drunk - people choose to get drunk - and yes, I have seen people being refused more drinks at the bar because they have had enough. Personally, I have never seen a drunk 16 year old in the club.

    I didn't dispute your claim of the attack at the ball, I wasn't there, therefore can't comment on the details - my comment was that I didn't see how the rugby club had the power to prevent someone contacting the police if that is what they wanted to do.

    The rugby club is 'populated by wealthy white guys' -

    I will draw issue with you on this comment though - the majority of members of the club are hard working people with families, probably much the same as yourself (unless you count yourself as one of the wealthy and white guys, in which case, would you consider being a sponsor ;) )
    - I presume that you feel the same way that other clubs in Muscat should be subsidised by only a few - such as the softball or golf clubs - no, they all have membership fees and some have bars, and all look for sponsorship. Why should the rugby club be any different?

    If you wanted to see the real spirit of the rugby club (and I'm not talking about the alcoholic type), then you should attend a game on a Friday, and see what the club is really about, with people who turn up to support the team because of their love of the game - by the way, they won yesterday against Dubai.

  8. Wow, as the original anon author i must say thanks for the comments.

    I will not name names because it is not right to do so on this blog and i appreciate the comments forwarded.

    However in the best interests of the club and those who sponsor it i suggest we leave the dubious debate to another time. To Suburban ( i Know who you are) i suggest you have nothing to do with the club, i do not condone the incidents you refer to or in fact suggest they were dealt with correctly but i humbly hope that you will allow us to reopen and sort out our obvious problems. To my fellow anon ( I only went anon cos i couldnt work out how to put a proper tag) I say leave it bud as we know what is really happening.

    MRFC has had some problems as any establishment has but I refuse to accept claims that they occured on a Weds or Thurs night. We are aware of the under age drinking and it will not happen again.

    (Dragon you are still wrong re kuwait involvement by the way)

    Please feel free to ask for membership of MRFC with its new rules and regs and if approved by the committee please give us a chance to rectify any mistakes from the past.

    Thank you dragon for the exposure, whilst your intention is perhaps positive and light hearted please remember that we have a huge membership and attendance for our events and despite contrary comments we continue to thrive.

    As my friend commented above, we have been closed for two years and will still prosper, the club has taken many positive steps and still has many mistakes to rectify but what we need now is positive and constructive comments, not negative.

    In the interests of the furtherance of community spirit I suggest you give us one more chance to prove our worth and surely if we are not capable of such we will be dealt with appropriately, if our contacts are as high as you suggest dragon we will fail very soon. i and many others believe to the contrary.

    To suburban, thanks for your comments and i appreciate your opinion. If you wish to visit us again please do so (as a member only), I cannot guarantee there will be no white people drinking or any disturbances, or in fact that the 350 people that attend the rugby ball annually for the last 32 years, will not get drunk but i will take my chances whilst you muse over your sensitive self indulgences and shattered dreams, good luck in your perfect world my friend.

    In the interests of the rubgy club we play next at home versus Dubai Frogs on 31st Oct.


    Far better it is to dare mighty things than to rank with those poor timid soles who know neither victory nor defeat....

  9. Ooooooooh!!!

    Exciting comments!!

    Suburban, love the fiery stance re the rugby club. I love Cranky and Mean, baby.

    Anon-tards, love the arguments.

    Dragon, great post, surely the exposure is good for the MRC?

    Being a lover of full contact ball-playing with my pals, I am going to put myself out there and say, yes, I am excited about the noises coming from the club. Its not just the game for me, its the company too. It gets fairly terrible here in the Sultanate sometimes, and it's nice to a have a little slice of non-Arabia from time to time, which is what the rugby club bar used to offer I'm told.

    Regarding the attack at a rugby club ball, if that is true, which i have no reason to doubt, then I'd of called the ROP boyo's in myself and seen it through. Absolutely unacceptable if there was some sort of covering up, but the person who was attacked should of filed a claim. Easy in hindsight and a perfect world eh?

    The informative story that I was told was that the rugby club had green lights across the board to re-open, but the man in charge of the clubhouse had "found religion" and would not sign for a liquor license. It turned out, supposedly, that the owner of the factory next door to the club knew the building owner, who now lives in the UK. Every year this owner comes back to Oman to cleanse during the Ramadan. This Ramadan, someone from the rugby club met with the father (building owner) over a bottle of scotch (in Ramadan) and explained the problem. Then the father simply signed over the power of attorney for the building to the owner of the factory who then duly signed to allow the liquor license to be applied for. I should point out here that this guys Son was the guy who was in charge of the building before. The ROP don't give out licenses during Ramadan and supposedly a license was issued after Ramadan. I'm now hearing that the license that has been issued is for a low amount (for a business) and now the club are trying to apply for an increase in their monthly allowance.

    I wonder if one of the annon-tards is Andy P? I think he's ok, but a bit too rude sometimes. ok, most of the time. Thats a Scottish wanker for you though. ;)

    Great blog Dragon, you can tell a blogs greatness by the amount of slagging off in the comments afterwords. Love it. It'll be handbags at 20 paces soon.

    I hope the club opens its bar again, but that's possibly because I enjoy homoerotic wrestling, preferably naked, in a pool filled with baby oil. Delightful.

  10. It's a shame to hear this news about the MRC. I was in Oman 2001 through 2003 on loan service and always had a good time at the club and witnessed no real problems from a behaviour point of view. I played for the British Army Loan Service team and MRC were always willing to let us use their facilities and supported us when we played in the Dubai 7's.

    Hopefully the club will return to full strength as I hope to return to Oman one day and I would love to go their to watch a match and have a pint for old times sake.

    Good luck in the future!
    Martin Robson

  11. So err is the club open again?


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