Breakfast with the Lions

Where to watch the British Lions rugby clash with New Zealand.

Robert Chilton June 18, 2017

Dubai and Auckland may be 14,000kms apart but when the British Lions and New Zealand face off in the first rugby Test match this month, the sound of muscle slamming into muscle might be heard in the UAE.

The first of the epic trio of matches kicks off at 11am on June 24, followed by matches on the next two Saturdays, July 1 and July 8. The number one spot to scrum down with your mates and watch the match is specialist rugby bar and restaurant Nezesaussi.

Tucked away in the Manzil Downtown Hotel, Nez (as the regulars call it) is the closest you’ll get to a rugby clubhouse in Dubai. There are dozens of framed photographs and replica jerseys signed by the greats of the game. A wall of pigeonholes filled with rugby balls will tempt you to grab one and start tossing it around the place – please don’t, you might spill someone’s drink. 

There are salads available, but this is rugby so let’s skip right past the greens and move on to the meaty burgers and sandwiches, of which there are many to choose from, including chicken, steak and pastrami. Nez’s classic burger comes in at AED 75 and will satisfy any ravenous rugby fan. Most of the grub comes on thick wooden boards, barely visible under an avalanche of crispy fries dusted with peppery paprika. 

The dream dish to order just before the whistle blows for the kick-off is the Nez platter of fried calamari, sticky chicken wings and boerewors rolls. But, with the Lions and Kiwis doing battle at 11am, it’s good to know there’s a breakfast menu too, with Nez opening its doors at 9.30am on Test match days.

One man who would surely demolish a Nez platter all on his own – and still have room for dessert – is Lions defence coach Andy Farrell, a legend of rugby league and union whose son Owen is touring with the Lions squad for a second time. 

“You’ve got to be at your best,” Farrell senior said of facing the mighty All Blacks. “I’ve coached plenty of times against them and lost. You’ve got be able to roll with the punches because you know they’re going to have a purple patch. They’re the world’s best side and have been for a number of years and rightly so.”

You too have to be at your best to tackle the huge portions at Nezesaussi so we advise you to go hungry, go early to grab a good spot in front of a screen, and get stuck in.