Uganda and Zimbabwe could miss Hong Kong qualifier

By eric odanga
Feb 23, 2021
  • Michael Okorach scored a try against Brazil. (Photo by Eric Odanga)

Uganda and Zimbabwe could miss a ticket to Hong Kong in October where the top eight teams after the two Challenger Series tournaments in Chile and Uruguay will compete in a final play-off for a spot in the World Rugby Sevens Series.

The winner in Hong Kong will replace the bottom-placed team in the Series.

Uganda and Zimbabwe must finish fifth or sixth to have a sniff of Hong Kong. To achieve this, they must convincingly win their matches and score many tries so that in the event of a tie, the points differential will be in their favor.

The maximum points they can get are 11 and 10 in Montevideo by finishing ninth ot 10th. At the moment, five teams namely Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Chile and Tonga are on course for the Hong Kong qualifier.

If Uruguay, Jamaica or Italy reach the cup semi-finals, the race for the final slots could be close.

Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea and Uganda who reached the quarter final in Vina Del Mar, Chile had a bad day in the office. Italy, Jamaica and hosts Uruguay stepped their game in the second leg and reached the final eight in Montevideo.

Uganda were tamed by Jamaica 10-0 before bouncing to edge out Brazil 19-12 before losing to an efficient Hong Kong 12-38 in the final Pool B match.

Zimbabwe did not have it easy in Pool C losing 7-14 to Italy before beating Paraguay 31-12. They lost 12-26 to Japan.

Top seeds

Top seeds Germany, Japan, Tonga and Hong Kong were unbeaten after the completion of the pool stage. Japan scored one of the biggest wins on the opening day after they beat Paraguay 71-5 in Pool C.

In their first match, Uganda barely engaged the top gear against Jamaica who came with a solid game plan for the second leg. They played in the face of their opponents whom they starved of any decent possession.

Uganda were on the backfoot in the opening three minutes of the first half. They were a pale shadow of the team which exhibited top rugby in Chile.

Handling errors and discipline which were minimal in Chile came to haunt Uganda in Montevideo. Jamaica stole a Uganda line-out and Edie Oshane scored the opening try in the third minute.

Solomon Okia made a break but the referee blew the whistle for a forward pass from Ian Munyani.

When Philip Wokorach who had a quiet game was sent to the naughty chair for an intentional knock on, Jamaica went for the kill muscling the East Africans at contact points and Oshane scored the second try in the 13th minute.

Close match

The second match against Brazil was close. Munyani came close to scoring but it was Pius Ogena who broke the deadlock and Wokorach converted.

After this try, Uganda appeared to have switched off. They missed tackles and Rober Tenorio slipped past to cross the line.

Just before the break, Michael Okorach, the Uganda captain led from the front selling an expensive dummy before barging over. Wokorach converted for a 14-5 lead at half time.

On resumption, Okia saved a try with a crunching tackle on Tenorio.

The sparkling moment of this half was when Aaron Ofoyrwoth retrieved the ball from a scrum inside his five meter line to race the whole length of the pitch for a try.

When Levis Ocen was yellow-carded, Laurent Bourda-Couhet used the numerical advantage to pull one back for the Samba Boys.

The die was cast when Jamaica convincingly beat Brazil 38-10 to qualify for the cup quarters. The body language by Uganda against Hong Kong in their final Pool match was reminiscent of a team whose fate was already decided.

Played at pace

Hong Kong played at pace after a false start from the kick off by Uganda and scored two tries inside two minutes. In this match, two Ugandan players, Wokorach and Ofoyrwoth were shown the yellow card.

They lost 12-38 and will play against Paraguay in the ninth place quarter finals.

Standing: Germany 22, Hong Kong 19, Japan 17, Chile 15, Tonga 13, Zimbabwe 12, Uganda 11, Papua New Guinea 10, Uruguay 8, Jamaica 7, Italy 6, Portugal 5, Colombia 4, Paraguay 3, Mexico 2, Brazil 1.

Order of play on Sunday

Ninth place quarter finals: Mexico v Colombia, Zimbabwe v Brazil, Portugal v PNG, Uganda v Paraguay. Cup quarter final: Germany v Chile, Japan v Jamaica, Tonga v Uruguay, Hong Kong v Italy.

Saturday results

Pool A: Germany, PNG, Uruguay, Mexico. PNG 10 Uruguay 26, Germany 38 Mexico 7, PNG 12 Mexico 17, Germany 26 Uruguay 10, Uruguay 34 México 5, Germany 24 PNG 10.

Pool B: Hong Kong, Uganda, Jamaica, Brazil. Uganda 0 Jamaica 10, Hong Kong 41 Brazil 5, Uganda 19 Brazil 12, Hong Kong 31 Jamaica 7, Jamaica 38 Brazil 10, Hong Kong 38 Uganda 12.

Pool C: Japan, Zimbabwe, Italy, Paraguay. Zimbabwe 7 Italy 14, Japan 71 Paraguay 5, Zimbabwe 31 Paraguay 12, Japan 26 Italy 12, Italy 47 Paraguay 19, Japan 26 Zimbabwe 12.

Pool D: Chile, Tonga, Portugal, Colombia. Tonga 14 Portugal 7, Chile 29 Colombia 10, Tonga 40 Colombia 19, Chile 14 Portugal 10, Portugal 31 Colombia 19, Chile 12 Tonga 19.