Colin Charvis in Dubai

Welsh rugby star talks to us ahead of The Stables dinner

Interview, Hot seat, The Knowledge

Dubai is a magnet for former rugby players. How many times have you visited the city?
I visit Dubai for about 10 weeks of the year. There are more opportunities for people here in the Middle East and the business environment is more buoyant than in the UK. I’m involved with the new Dubai Rugby Academy, a great new initiative for young rugby players between the age of 12 and 19, so as well as enjoying the golf here I’m also very busy.

Other than holding court at The Stables, what will you get up to on your visit?
This visit is for the launch of Dubai Rugby Academy. We identified that youngsters in the region would benefit from some advice, training and support from people who have experienced rugby at the highest levels. The standards here are very high, and the enthusiasm is abundant. Hopefully we can nurture this to enable Dubai kids to be on a par with the UK, South Africa, Australia and others in developed rugby countries.

You’ve made a name for yourself as an after-dinner speaker, but who would your dream dinner party guests be?
Cheesy and sad, I know, but for dinner I would invite my family. Over the years I’ve spent so much time away because of rugby. I’ve missed birthdays, weddings and christenings while playing, so I’m now enjoying all the time I can get with my family. It’s great being with them now, hearing old stories and seeing how the younger members of the family are growing up. They’re all extremely valuable to me.

Who wouldn’t you invite?
I wouldn’t invite any New Zealand rugby players. Yes you’ve finally won the Webb Ellis trophy [Rugby World Cup]. Can we move on now, please?

Who would cook for you?
My grandma – Jamaican cuisine at its best.

What’s your secret to public speaking?
Knowing your audience. Stories about Moscow jails tend to go over the heads of primary-school kids.

What are you better at: talking about rugby or playing rugby?
Now I’m better at talking rugby. Watching myself looks like [I’m playing in] slow-mo. But, of course, I love to pull on my boots occasionally.

Would you get into the current Welsh side?
The current Welsh side has a fantastic group of men. Would I get in? I would do everything it takes to get in.

Now you’ve retired, who has the best hair in rugby?
World rugby is missing great hair. Adam Jones [of Wales] is flying the flag, I guess. Bring back Chabal!

An evening with Colin Charvis is on Tuesday May 1 at 8pm. Dhs395 (with six pints or a bottle of grape). The Stables, Sheikh Zayed Road, near Fibber Magee’s (04 342 5571).

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