Uganda Cranes to sink lower?

By the punter
Jun 11, 2021
  • Justin Kimono (r) closes in as Stephen Ogwette tackles Kenya's Vincent Mose in an Elgon Cup match. Uganda travelled to Tunisia without playing any build up match.

How low could Uganda rugby sink? In 2007, Uganda won the Africa Cup but since then, it has been a lukewarm performance which culminated to their relegation to the second tier competition of the Africa Rugby Confederation.

On Saturday, Uganda Cranes will be fighting another relegation threat to the third tier when they play an unpredictable Senegal in the Africa Rugby Confederation 1B championship in Nebul, Tunisia to determine whether they remain in the second tier.

This follows a narrow 19-22 loss to Cote d’Ivoire on Tuesday. Hosts Tunisia also beat Senegal 22-14 and will face Cote d’Ivoire in the final. The winner will be promoted to the top tier which now has Namibia, Madagascar, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Jonathan Onen scored a try for Uganda Cranes in the first half while hooker, Cyrus Wathum and prop Asuman Mugerwa cale off the bench to cross the line once. 

Although Uganda played well, the West Africans were too experienced and restricted their opponents in the 22. Also, Uganda gave away too many kickable penalties. Cote d'Ivoire scored only two tries. 

News from Naebul about Uganda’s defeat has been filtering in is but the defeat at the hands of Cote d’Ivoire has been attributed to inexperience. Uganda went to Tunisia without playing a build up match.

What else could have gone wrong? The tactical approach could have played a big role especially if Uganda were awarded kickable penalties. Top kickers are not in the team which was named for the championship in Tunisia.

Poor defence

Lawrence Wakabi kicks well and is talented but poor in defence. On a good day, he is brilliant although you never know which Wakabi turns up on the day. Other kickers are Jonathan Onen, Jasper Ochen and Ivan Makmot.

The fly-half Jasper Ochen is just 20 years old with the center Oscar Kalyango only capped last year and the second center Michael Wokorach capped three years ago. The scrumhalf Davis Kiwalabye and eighth man Marvin Odongo were recently capped. This is an important link between the backs and the forwards.

Unfortunately, very few players have been allowed to progress through the ranks with mentorship by the experienced players. There could have been discipline problems too in Tunisia which contributed to the defeat.

This year, URU introduced the Protector Rugby Super Series which was played along the same lines as Bamburi Rugby Super Series. The aim was to identify players for the 15’s team.

In the meantime, Morocco has withdrawn from the CAR 1C championship which is slated for Gaborone, Botswana on Sunday. As a result, they are likely to compete in Division two next year. This leaves only hosts Botswana, Nigeria, Zambia, Mauritious and Swaziland to battle for promotion to 1B.

The Tier A competition is in Madagascar from June 26 to July 6.

Uganda line up against Cote d'Ivoire: 15. Joseph Oredo, 14. Justin Kimono (assistant captain), 13. Michael Wokorach, 12. Oscar Kalyango, 11. Jonathan 'Bishop' Onen, 10. Jasper Ochen, 9. Davis Kiwalabye, 8. Marvin Odongo (Andrew Olweny), 7. Mathias Ochwo, 6. Arthur Mukama, 5. Romano Ogwal (assistant captain), 4. Timothy Kabonero, 2. Paul Sserungoji, 1. Martial Tchumkam.