Saturday January 4 2014

No room for slow starts



Kampala- Away with the festivities that took the center stage at each of the rugby grounds which double as partying venues during the just concluded two-week break to celebrate Christmas and the New Year.

The second round of the 2013/14 Nile Special Super 8 Rugby Premier League is upon us and the prospects of this weekend’s fixtures are both mouthwatering and worth the hype.

In the first half, the fans got served more than what they bargained for as it turned out to be the most exhilarating and competitive shift in ages. The scuffle at both ends of the table has also transformed the league into a fully-baked omellette.

While some franchises enjoyed the first round, others where left on their knees hoping for a renaissance.

Early birds
DMark Kobs comfortably lead the pack after showing more guts and urgency. But Kobs would be so wrong to think they have bagged the title. A lot can unfold in the coming weeks and leave them ruing missed chances. They must avoid a slow start, keep their eyes both on the prize and rivals because they are the hunted.

MTN Heathens, despite unusually playing second fiddle to Kobs, maintain that they are confident of retaining their crown. They trail by six points and that is unfamiliar territory for them.

But everyone knows they have the pedigree and finesse. All they have to do is show more character and pray that Kobs’ winning run is halted before the real business end of the new-look league starts.

Ezee Money Rhinos had a memorable first round winning four on the trot. They were unlucky to lose some games especially the one against Kyadondo-based Heathens albeit due to poor officiating.

After that no-holds barred approach in the first half, no one can write off the well-oiled Rhinos machine.

They are the pundits’ favourites to claim some more unsuspecting scalps and more so play a role in which direction the title will head.

The top two contenders; Kobs and Heathens know that they must give special attention to their games against Rhinos.

Title pretenders
The nearly men of Ugandan rugby, G4S Pirates, have performed below their expectations. They are supposed to be credible title challengers but the 2007 Uganda Cup winners find themselves at the wrong end of the table. The return of some key players in Greg Rukundo, Ivan Magomu and Isaac Rujumba might re-ignite their campaign.
Toyota Buffaloes haven’t let off from their impressive showing at the back end of last season when they announced their arrival onto the big scene with those historic two wins against Kobs. The new season thus far has seen them continue to show quality and play attractive rugby while polling in positive results as well.

Being third on the log is a positive for the young guns though they must attempt to steal thunder to repeat last season’s feat of finishing second.

Formerly called Summerkamp, Mutoni Warriors remain a work in progress. They won their first league game in two years of topflight rugby and must continue daring to dream differently.
Under the tutelage of Herbert Wafula, Warriors have grown into a mature side and should continue the building process. The second round will come with its own challenges and one of them is to work on their porous defence that has leaked in many tries against the ‘big boys’ who always notch massive-win margins against them.

Entebbe Mongers had a first round of ups and downs. Losing to lowly-rated Warriors was always going to hurt. They paid the price of complacency but replied with a win against Pirates.
Newcomers Lira Bulls have endured a baptism of fire sort of reception in the Super Eight. The learning curve is not about to stop for them. Although they are not expected to win any games, the defeat margins should gradually continue to reduce and that alone will keep the amazing interest of the partisan locals burning.

Such is what lays ahead, the neutrals, if there is any, will watch and enjoy more than their money’s worth.


G4S Pirates and DMark Kobs should set the agenda of the next seven weeks with Heathens hoping to make a last dash to steal the thunder from their arch rivals. A six-point periphery over Heathens is what Kobs (34 points) hold as the final stretch starts with a game against Mutoni Warriors at Legends.During the break, wing Justin Kimono kept busy, helping Makerere win the rugby title at the biennial University Games. His team got there playing intense rugby and coach Fred Mudoola will hope for more of the same from the jet-heeled Rugby Cranes international.


Legends Rugby Grounds
G4S Pirates vs. Ezee Money Rhinos, 2.30pm
Mutoni Warriors vs. DMark Kobs, 4.30pm

Entebbe Rugby Grounds
Entebbe Mongers vs. MTN Heathens, 4.30pm

Kyadondo Rugby Grounds
Toyota Buffaloes vs. Lira Bulls, 4.30pm