A tale of two “unequal” women’s teams

By eric odanga
Jul 26, 2021
  • Uganda Cranes players in a past match.(Photo:SNA File)

Uganda and South Africa women’s teams are preparing for their September 7, 2021 Africa Zone Rugby World Cup qualifier in contrasting styles.

While the South Africans are due to play high profile teams in Colorado, USA, broke Ugandans have to contend with home preparations and play against select men’s teams!

It is all about powerplay and money.

Uganda Rugby Union is broke and cannot afford to pay for other teams to come to Uganda for build up matches and neither can they finance the teams preparations to say, Europe. No such problem for the South African team who were due to arrive in Colorado, USA for a high profile Women’s international rugby 2013 Nations Cup at University of Northern Colorado-Greely.

Uganda begin their preparations by playing against Engsol Tigers, a men’s rugby team based at Kyadondo grounds on Saturday.

They will play two other build up matches on August 10 and 24 both against men’s teams. This is the alternative to playing against any other top quality womens teams which is what South Africa is doing by travelling to the USA.

Because of South Africa’s date with USA, England and Canada in Colorado, the qualifier dates between Uganda and South Africa were moved from August 3 to September 7 in East London, South Africa.

CAR Opts for South Africa

For some reason, CAR decided the match will be in South Africa instead of a neutral ground and that it will be a one off affair and not played over two legs on a home and away basis.

Perhaps this was done because of financial and logistic considerations. Evidently, South Africa are not worried about Uganda and have started preparations for the RWC by playing top women’s teams.

South Africa are bidding to qualify for a third successive World Cup, while Uganda beat Kenya over two legs in their annual Elgon Cup series to reach this play-off.

Four teams from Asia are also hoping for a place in France and they will battle it out when the WRWC2014 regional qualifier begins in Kazakhstan on September 4.

Japan will play Hong Kong and hosts Kazakhstan face Singapore at the Almaty Stadium, with the winners going on to play each other in the final at the same venue on September 7.

"This is the first time we are having a qualification process for Africa, which recognises the level of development reached in the region," said IRB Women's Development Manager Susan Carty.

Ten teams qualified

Ten teams have qualified for Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 in defending champions New Zealand, 2010 runners-up England, Australia, hosts France, USA, Canada, Ireland, Wales, Spain and Samoa. The pool draw for Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 will take place in due course.

The Uganda team is unchanged from the Elgon Cup team that beat Kenya to qualify. There are three uncapped players at the 15’s level in the provisional squad.

They are: Brenda Kemigisha (Entebbe Sharks) – front row, Salume Ilakut (Thunderbirds), Samia Ayikoru (Thunderbirds) - wingers. South Africa have named about 8 uncapped players and have a good sprinkle of seven-a-side players who were in Moscow for the RWC Sevens tournament.

Some of the players who have been in the squad that was in Uganda for the CAR Sevens are Lamla Momoti, Nomathamsanqa Faleni, Phumeza Gadu, Zenay Jordaan and Mandisa Williams. Players who were in Dubai for the women’s RWC Sevens were: Mandisa Williams, Lamla Momoti, Nomathamsanqa Faleni, Phumeza Gadu and Zenay Jordaan.

They will be familiar with Ugandan players Aaliya Adania, Christine Kizito, Fortunate Irankunda, Charlotte Mudoola, Harriet Kayonjo, Jean Mary Nyadoi, Brenda Kayiyi, Josephine Namayeda, Rosenburg Kanyunyuzi, Helen Buteme, Prossy Nakakande and Rachel Kakaire whom they have met in the past. The Springbok Women’s caretaker coach is Aslam Abrahams.

He announced the squad on Tuesday which travels to the USA on Saturday. Denver Wannies has been appointed sevens coach. SA, a balance of youth and experience Commenting on his squad, Abrahams said: “We have a good balance of youth and experience, and I believe the momentum some of the women gained at the Rugby World Cup Sevens will set them in good stead for the Nations Cup.

That said there is hard work ahead as the 15-a-side team has not played much in the last two years. But I have faith in these players.”

Women’s international rugby 2013 Nations Cup at University of Northern Colorado-Greely. July 30: Canada v England, USA v South Africa; August 3: USA v Canada, England v South Africa; August 7: Canada v South Africa, USA v England; August 10: Playoff and final at Infinity Park, Glendale, Colorado.

South Africa Squad: Nolusindiso Booi (Border), Nedene Botha (Free State), Marlien Cronje (Blue Bulls), Nomathamsanqa Faleni (Eastern Province), Phumeza Gadu (Eastern Province), Veroeshka Grain (Western Province), Laurian Johannes (Western Province), Portia Jonga (Eastern Province), Zenay Jordaan (Eastern Province), Celeste Marais (Western Province), Vuyokasi Mbonda (Western Province), Andrea Mentoor (Western Province), Lamla Momoti (Border), Lusanda Mtiya (KZN), Nwabisa Ngxatu (Border), Zandile Nojoko (Eastern Province), Fundiswa Plaatjie (Border), Annilie Pretorius (Blue Bulls), Marnezelle Rabie (SWD), Daphne Scheepers (Eastern Province), Mathrin Simmers (SWD), Vuyolwethu Vazi (Blue Bulls), Simone Vosloo (Blue Bulls), Mandisa Williams (Border), Thandi Xwetu (Blue Bulls). Team management: Aslam Abrahams - Head Coach (caretaker).

Lady Cranes training squad for SA 2014 WRWCQ Uganda Forwards: Aalliya Adania, Christine Kizito, Zurah Namatovu, Joanita Warry Ssenfuka (captain), Evelyn Aweku, Irene Zigge, Stella Bakole, Phiona Nalubwama, Mary Nakanyike, Stella Kyalikunda (Thunderbirds), Brenda Kemigisha, Beatrice Atim (Entebbe Sharks), Fortunate Irankunda (Entebbe Whales), Anne Sizomu Alan, Hellen Gizamba, Irene Namapii, Josephine Namayega, Loy Mbabazi, Sylvia Ajok (Black Panthers). Backs: Asha Nakityo (Thunderbirds), Brenda Kayiyi (assistant captain), Charlotte Mudoola, Claire Anena (Black Panthers), Harriet Kayonjo (Thunderbirds), Helen Koyokoyo Buteme (Thurrock T-birds), Jean Mary Nyadoi, Matilda Tino, Rachael Babirye Kakaire, Rosenburg Kanyunyuzi, Salume Ilakut, Samia Ayikoru, Sauda Adiru (Thunderbirds), Prossy Nakakande (Black Panthers). Management: Dominica Kulia (manager), Brian Makalama (coach).

Additional reporting from SARFU and IRB