Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The Road To Recovery

It had probably been the most successful local rugby season by far. Nonetheless, the “success” being relative. If we are talking fans: they certainly returned to rugby grounds. Sponsors: the money has been splashed into the greater part of the league. Players’ names became household names, kind of. Team built rapport with the crowds, save for Gulu Elephants that prompted the Union to suspend and fine them.

With a “successful” league done, it was time to battle Kenyans for something other than Migingo Island, social media influence and grammatical errors. The Elgon Cup. Contrary to the usual reported “makeshift” squads the Simbas have paraded, they went to their backyard and assembled the finest of the pride. 

Oscar Kalyango is tackled by a Kenyan Simba, as Marvin Odong closes in to support.
Photo credit : The Daily Monitor

It was a case of biting off more than one could chew. Straight from the warm up session, you could see that the Simbas had won the size battle. Not even the dominantly Ugandan stands could stop the Kenyans who in all fairness won the tie in just under forty minutes, the first half. It was a forgettable day for my Ugandan contingent at Legends Rugby Club. Maybe we needed it to check ourselves going into CAR Tier 1A tests in July. 

With the July CAR 1A tests approaching quickly, it was natural to draw up a recovery plan having been subjected to a 48-10 home drubbing and the team found themselves in Bloemfontein to get their act together. Owing to major injuries, the backline looked overtly thin but this only provided the coaching stuff with ways of working out new formations, most especially with the halfbacks: given that both Ijongat and Magomu are out with injuries. More squad thinness continued to show with only one specialist winger and one hooker in the camp.

The first game in South Africa was against the Free State U-21 XV and it didn’t go as the Ugandans would have wished, the latter losing in more or less similar fashion as was the case against the Kenyan Simbas earlier on in the month. Free State cruised to a 38-13 win.

For the second test in SA, amongst the dropped were the Wokorach boys, Makmot and Mpande for Oscar, Aredo, Kiwalabye and Oketayot respectively. These additions breathed something fresh into the team that recorded a razor thin 24-22 win against Bloemfontein Police RFC courtesy of four tries, all from forwards in Byron Oketayot, Pius Ogena and Marvin Odong(2). Fly half Lubanga nailed two of four conversions. Finally! A much needed win. A beacon of hope, and giant leap on the road to recovery.

Part of the Cranes squad singing the National before the Elgon Cup brawl.
Photo credit :

What befell the Cranes against Kenya was unacceptable and clearly we have an uphill task to return to our Champion days like was the case in 2007. Nonetheless, it’s good to know that the boys haven’t given up on fighting. There is room for improvement.

We hope to see James Ijongat and Ivan Magomu running on the turf again and playing some beautiful footie once again.