Uganda keen to improve in Santiago

By eric odanga
Feb 19, 2021
  • Uganda won Silver at the Africa Cup Sevens. (Photo Courtesy)

Uganda is keen to improve on their seventh place ranking after the opening leg of the World Rugby Challenge Series in Chile last weekend.

Tolbert Onyango, the Uganda Sevens head coach said his charges achieved one of their goals of finishing among the top eight teams in Chile and looked forward to a better performance in the second tournament.

Michael Okorach, the Uganda captain acknowledged the team did very well in Chile. “We won two matches on the opening day and lost narrowly to Germany and Hong Kong in the quarter final. The tournament gave us much exposure,” he explained.

On the second day, the loss to Hong Kong who they will face in Santiago was painful. “It is a match we should have won,” Okorach stated. Some of the key areas Uganda will be looking to improve on are line-outs and kick-offs as well as a disciplined defense.

In Santiago, Okorach is confident of a good show against Hong Kong, Jamaica and Colombia. “I believe we can top the pool,” Okorach predicted.

Good platform

Overall, the captain is confident that the Challenge Series was a good platform for the team which is keen to qualify for the Olympics. “We are maturing as a team and the players are aware of the goals.

In Chile, there was a good team effort and our discipline was much better,” he observed.

Discipline was one of the key areas Uganda struggled with in their past tournaments according to Onyango, the Uganda Sevens head coach. He echoed the observations by Okorach admitting lapses in defense which cost the team against Germany and Hong Kong.

“We learned crucial lessons and have some issues to address before we hit the ground in Santiago. This is a team with a mixture of experience and youth. They realize what it takes to perform over two days of intense competition,” Onyango stated.

The coach was encouraged by the team discipline. “It has been a gray area,” Onyango admitted. But, playing in one or two tournaments after a long period of inactivity is detrimental to the team’s ability to play at the next level.

Drew parity

Onyango drew parity with other teams in the tournament which had played in some tournaments before traveling to Chile.

“The Challenge Series gives us an opportunity to play against other teams which are almost at the same level. It is the only way we can improve,” the coach who has his eyes on the Olympic qualification added.

Uganda had no build up matches before heading to Chile which boils down to financial support.

In Chile, Germany edged out Hong Kong 10-0 to win the final. Japan beat hosts Chile 31-14 in the play-off for the bronze. Zimbabwe, the second African team at the tournament finished sixth after narrowly losing 14-19 to Tonga.

Results In Vina del Mar, Chile on February 15 and 16.

Pool A: Japan, Tonga, Uruguay, Portugal. Tonga 26 Portugal 12, Japan 17 Uruguay 12, Tonga 10 Uruguay 0, Japan 40 Portugal 0, Portugal 7 Uruguay 39, Japan 35 Tonga 7.

Pool B: Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Jamaica, Colombia. Jamaica 10 PNG 12, Hong Kong 26 Colombia 0, Jamaica 26 Colombia 5, Hong Kong 36 PNG 0, PNG 22 Colombia 17, Hong Kong 14 Jamaica 7.

Pool C: Germany, Uganda, Italy, Paraguay. Uganda 24 Italy 14, Germany 48 Paraguay 0, Uganda 47 Paraguay 0, Germany 24 Italy 17, Italy 45 Paraguay 15, Germany 19 Uganda 12.

Pool D: Chile, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Brazil. Zimbabwe 21 Brazil 14, Chile 45 Mexico 0, Zimbabwe 24 Mexico 15, Chile 43 Brazil 7, Brazil 10 Mexico 19, Chile 24 Zimbabwe 19.

Day two Ninth place quarter final: Uruguay 19 Brazil 5, Italy 47 Colombia 19, Mexico 10 Portugal 30, Jamaica 33 Paraguay 17; Semis: Uruguay 29 Italy 0, Portugal 19 Jamaica 22; 9th Place Final: Uruguay 35 Jamaica 0.

13th Place play off: Colombia 17 Paraguay 14. 9th Place play off: Uruguay 35 Jamaica 0.

Cup Quarter Finals: Japan 33 Zimbabwe 0, Germany 29 PNG 0, Chile 28 Tonga 7, Hong Kong 10 Uganda 7; Semi Final: Japan 5 Germany 12, Chile 14 Hong Kong 17; Third Place Play off: Japan 31 Chile 14; Final: Germany 10 Hong Kong 0

Fifth and sixth place semis: Zimbabwe 26 PNG 19, Tonga 19 Uganda 14; Fifth Place play off Final: Zimbabwe 14 Tonga 19

Ranking: 1 Germany 2 Chile 3 Japan 4 Chile 5 Tonga 6 Zimbabwe 7 Uganda 8 PNG 9 Uruguay 10 Jamaica 11 Portugal 12 Italy 13 Colombia 14 Paraguay 15 Mexico 16 Brazil