Tuesday July 18 2017

Television behind Rugby Cranes’ rare 2pm start

Rugby Cranes legend: Mubiru in action against

Rugby Cranes legend: Mubiru in action against Tunisia on Saturday in his 50th international match for Uganda. PHOTO BY Ismail Kezaala 

By Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo

Kampala. Fans will have to rejig their Saturday schedules in order to catch the Africa Gold Cup clash between Uganda and Namibia.

The kick-off for that game at Legends Rugby Club is 2pm! Yes, you read it right. Uganda host Namibia at an unusual time, an hour earlier than the earliest game the national team has ever played.
In 2009, Tunisia beat Uganda 41-17 in a then never-seen 3pm kick-off at the same venue. But, why is it the case this time?

“It’s television that controls the time,” Uganda Rugby Union (URU) chief executive officer Ramsey Olinga told Daily Monitor yesterday.

“Kwese Sports bought rights from Rugby Africa and when all games are live on some weekends, some teams play earlier,” he added.
While Uganda beat Tunisia with a record score of 78-17 on Saturday to stay third on the six-team log at the usual 4pm, the Kenya-Senegal game started at 2pm in Nairobi.
In Windhoek, Namibia’s 31-26 victory over Zimbabwe only kicked off upon the completion of Uganda’s game at 6pm. Namibia, who arrive on Thursday evening, lead the table with 15 points, Kenya has 13 with Uganda on 11.

This weekend, Uganda-Namibia will be followed by Kenya’s visit to Zimbabwe starting at 4pm. Captain Brian Odongo claims the kick-off time is not new. “(It’s) not unusual. We have played those games before in the league,” Odongo told Daily Monitor. “When we lost to Tunisia, it wasn’t entirely down to the time.”
Back in 2009, many felt facing Tunisia under the scorching heat of 3pm gave the North Africans an advantage seeing how the hot afternoon sun is daily bread for them back home.
Also, Odongo’s assertion is not entirely right. Whereas some league games start as early as 1pm, most of the marquee ties come after 4.30pm.

With the Saturday game ending before 4pm, the managers of Legends will have to keep their guests entertained for much longer than usual.
The club manager Eric Malinga revealed that “they have you covered even if you came early and left late” on any Saturday.

Africa gold cup

Saturday 2pm
Uganda vs. Namibia, Legends

In Harare, 4pm
Zimbabwe vs. Kenya