The Uganda Rugby Cranes have a mountain to climb if they are to avoid relegation from the Rugby Afrique CAR Tier 1A to the less prestigious CAR Tier 1B after last evenings loss to Namibia 31-40 at the Kyadondo Rugby Grounds in Kampala.
This comes after the complete demolition in the hands of bitter rivals Kenya in the Elgon Cup a few weeks back. And now the question on most fans lips is – what next for the national team?
Well first of all for starters, hope is not lost yet as the much improved Cranes still have pending matches against Zimbabwe on July 16 and Kenya July 31 to stand a chance of staying put in the Rugby Afrique CAR Tier 1A although they have to put on a better showing to keep up with the big boys.
With a full patriotic army of fans pushing the team forward, they had a better performance compared to the Elgon cup where the team looked as clueless as Head coach Robert Sseguya where the Kenyans ran the show with their tactical and skill prowess reducing the Cranes to walkers on the turf.
But with more and more people now picking interest in the game, there is after all a silver lining on the rugby clouds. The Elgon cup attracted thousands of fans with some coming from as far as Gulu and Mbarara filling the Legends ground to spill-overs. Yesterday was no different as some fans who yelled their throats sore confessed having no idea of what the game is about let alone how points are scored.
I sat next to some fans who had traveled all the way from Arua for the game and they were some of the noisiest in the stands as they roared the team on for a better fight against the bigger and well prepared Namibians. The fans who kept yelling “we do this the Onduparaka style” ( In reference to the big support given to new Uganda Premier league entrants Onduparaka FC from Arua by their home fans) never lost hope and believed in the national team.
Most of the fans kept chanting, singing and dancing even long after the game as if they had won the match. This kind of patriotic support is what all sports disciplines need and with a much needed support from the government, can take us places.
We have already witnessed the massive interest shown when the national football side is playing qualification games at Mandela National stadium in Namboole. The same huge numbers are also building in Basketball with Rugby the latest beneficiary.
We will be needing the type of performance Philip Wokorach (2 tries to win Man of the Match) put up yesterday from the rest of the players if the fans are to get their reward for sacrificing their time and money to watch the boys do their thing.
Uganda’s tactical ineptitude was exposed by the Namibians in the middle of the pack as the Namibians despite being the bigger side in terms of size preferred to do it the easier way by driving in convoys with quick short passes and long kicks from defence as opposed to driving through the wall, the tactics the home side employed making it difficult to breakdown the man-mountain locks and centres.
And also work needs to be done in the handles and conversions as the kicks failed terribly despite the beautiful touch downs from Pius Ogena and Philip Wokorach. The team was on the back foot throughout and ended up tiring at the crucial moment as the chased the game with the Southern African team running down the clock by employing the Kick and run strategy that killed the game.