Heathens title to lose amid changes
Posted Friday, January 25 2013 at 02:00
Rugby. MTN Heathens captain Alex Mubiru ends his suspension just in time for start of the new season.
Four successive titles and counting!
MTN Heathens now have a chance to make it five in a row as the Nile Special Super 8 Rugby League kicks off today at their home Kyadondo Rugby Football Club (KYRFC).
Newly-promoted Summerkamp will be the visitors. Changes to the league format announced earlier this week will alter the tide in the eyes of Brian Tabaruka, the Heathens’ coach.
“There is going to be a scramble to get into the top four. It creates a sense where every game is a final,” Tabaruka noted.
The home and away basis has been discarded. What would have been a round-robin second round is now a knockout contest.
The top four teams after the first round will have a semi-final playoff ahead of a final, whose winner will become the champion.
The bottom four teams will also have a playoff to determine the fifth and sixth positions. That hasn’t taken the chance to avenge away defeats. Tabaruka tends to think Uganda Rugby Union (URU) might have nailed it with this format.
“We wait to see how it turns out but from the face of it, competitiveness will definitely improve and that’s good for the game.
“There is no fallback position unlike in the past when teams waited for the second round to win consistently.”
Unlike Heathens, Summerkamp is one of four clubs that have been unable to train at Legends – formerly Kampala grounds.
They start the season with hardly any practice with the ball and the odds will be staked against them to survive in the topflight beyond this season.
Heathens have freshened up the backline by adding the Toyota Buffaloes trio of Philip Wokorach (fullback), Allan Okello (wing) and Edgar Odyek (lock).
Wokorach, the reigning Upcoming Player of the Year, should immediately heal their poor kicking and also push Benon Kiiza in the position he has owned for years now.
Like Kiiza, first centre Evan Kingasia has to raise his game as Michael Tamale has joined from Impis.
“All the new players have gelled well with the other guys. We should have more firepower,” Tabaruka added.
The champions will start with a full strength squad as skipper Alex Mubiru returns from a ban handed down for ‘fighting’ at the back end of last season.