Sunday February 18 2018

Rugby body left with egg on its face

Spot of bother. URU boss Andrew Owor

Spot of bother. URU boss Andrew Owor 

By Robert Madoi

Far from being a classic example of two bald-headed men fighting for a comb, grievances voiced following a decision this past week to have Betway Kobs and Jinja Hippos play a walkover are healthy.
The walkover was initially awarded to Kobs after Hippos were a no-show for a Nile Special Rugby Premiership match.

Odds of arriving at a decision such as the one described above range between slim and none. It therefore comes as no surprise that the knee-jerk conclusion has been that the decree by Uganda Rugby Union’s executive committee represents a betrayal of the tenets of fair play. After heartrendingly dropping valuable points in the boardroom at the hands of Plascon Mongers, you could forgive Black Pirates faithful for being faintly uneasy with the decision.

The buck, though, should stop with Uganda Rugby Union (URU). The local rugby governing body recently rejigged its rules. There were no sweeping changes; just a few tweaks here and there. One of the tweaks addresses walkovers in a pretty peculiar manner. Peculiar because it version of a walkover achieves the paradoxical effect of punishing a side that is on paper said to be a beneficiary.

Denying a walkover beneficiary a bonus point puts the spirit and letter of the law at polar sides. Besides creating needless friction, such a state of affairs can hardly been qualified as fair play. The Ugandan topflight league has always been one of fine margins both at the top and bottom.

Since walkovers are commonplace in the league, it would be absurd if the new rule impacts greatly — as you columnist indeed thinks it will — on the overall winners and losers in the grand scheme of things. A title could be decided by the odd bonus point that a walkover chalked off. Not just this season, but also subsequent ones.

Because of this, the rugby fraternity will increasingly find itself piling on conspiracy theory on the back of another. The goings-on in the field of play will unfortunately take a backseat.
Put bluntly, the new rule on walkovers abounds in anomaly. URU has to rectify it by ensuring that beneficiaries of walkovers get bonus points just as was the case in the past.