Before the Ugandan contingent returned from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, rumour was that some Rugby Cranes 7s players had vanished from the Games Village soon after competing.
Well, the rumour turned into a reality when two national ruggers - Benon Kizza and Phillip Pariyo - weren’t aboard the Emirates Airbus that flew in the Ugandan contingent on Thursday afternoon.
“Yes, it’s a fact the pair did not board with us from Scotland,” said Sevens coach Tolbert Onyango. “We were with them up until Wednesday when they went shopping in the city center, which was 10 minutes away from our residence.”
But Team Uganda’s Chef de Mission Ambrose Tashobya, opines else. “The missing players remained in Glasgow to meet their relatives,” he said. Officials and athletes were issued visas valid until September 3 and Tashobya believes the pair will be back home by then. “I don’t think they intend to stay. We are already in touch with the organisers and if they exceed their stay then the authorities in Scotland will be aware of this.”
Tolbert Onyango, who represented Kenya at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia added; “For now, it’s speculation that they’ve disappeared but they legally staying in United Kingdom. We can only declare that they are missing after their visas expire.”
Back Kizza started all Uganda’s five matches at the Ibrox Stadium and made a try and conversion as they defeated Malaysia 35-0 in the Bowl quarterfinals.
Toyota Buffaloes wing Pariyo also started the first Pool D match against Australia but after that 43-5 defeat, he was relegated to the bench. He also touched down against Malaysia. Both missing players are aged 24 years.
“I think they had their own plans as soon as they got to Glasgow,” a member of the contingent, who preferred anonymity, told this paper.
PREVIOUS VANISHING ACTS BY UGANDANS
1997: Kassim Ouma vanishes in USA during the World Military Games.
2007: Sharif Bogere and Phillip Adyak vanish during the World Boxing Championships in Chicago.
2007: Cricket players Patrick Ochan and Jimmy Okello disappear from camp in Australia, a day before the team was set to return home after the ICC World Cricket League Division 3 tournament in Darwin.
2009: Seven members of Uganda’s Under-19 cricket team fail to return home after they went missing in Toronto, Canada where they were taking part in a 2010 ICC U-19 World Cup Qualifier.