Sunday July 27 2014

Ugandan rugby officials need to address deep-seated problems

There are few talents being unearthed after

There are few talents being unearthed after Jasper ‘Bascutt’ Ochen’s generation. URU need to work on increasing the player base both in terms of quality and quantity. PHOTO BY EDDIE CHICCO 

Gloomy cannot begin to describe what the past seven days have been for Ugandan rugby enthusiasts. This after the 10th edition of the Elgon Cup returned a humiliating 48-21 aggregate loss for the Rugby Cranes.
It was a nadir for Uganda, and was doubtless compounded by the fact that the victors were...wait for it...Kenya’s second string side. There you have it!
This was yet another telltale sign of Ugandan rugby plumbing the depths.
The Lady Cranes were at the end of a hiding from the Kenyan Lionesses, who aggregated 72 points, 33 of which were scored in Kampala.
The hope is that these losses precipitate one of those aha moments. Hope being the operative word. Ugandan rugby has been hoping for a watershed moment ever since it capitulated to Kenya during last year’s CAR Division 1A tournament.
The hideous showing in that tournament culminated in the Rugby Cranes being relegated to Division 1B. It got worse this year when losses to Ivory Coast and Senegal condemned Uganda to the lower reaches that are 1C.
So, hope is all that Ugandan rugby enthusiasts can do. They are half-heartedly buying into a phrase that Kyadondo Rugby Football Club popularised – fall down seven times and get up eight times.

Second string side
Such phraseology seemed to gain traction when, at the start of this month, Rugby Cranes snapped its losing streak in Test matches.
Green shoots of recovery appeared to sprout from the rubble; never mind that Kenya’s second string side was the one being beaten 21-14.
When Ugandan rugby enthusiasts realised that they were clinging onto something remotely close to false hope after Rugby Cranes tanked the second leg in Nairobi, they went haywire on the blogosphere. Epitaphs were thrashed out with an almost palpable fury.
Your columnist wholly understands why the poor souls are seething. The trek from African champion – in 2007 – to a near laughing stock is one that is sure to enrage anyone regardless of their temperament. But wailing will just do that – invite pity at best and chuckles at worst. The Kenyans are certainly laughing!
Your columnist strongly believes that it’s about time the powers that be come up with a blueprint to address the deep-seated problems that evidently have the sport stuck in a rut.Issues pertaining to player depth as well as strength and conditioning continue to stick out like a proverbial sore thumb.
Unfortunately, the Uganda Rugby Union (URU) hasn’t proved that it can come up with a sober approach tailor-made to address the ills bedevilling the sport to whose care it is entrusted.
The Union has for some reason chosen to prop counterproductive decrees. It for instance has been valiantly pushing for the topflight rugby league – the Nile Premiership – to be downsized well knowing that such a move won’t help address the issue of a narrow player base.
Rugby is also short on playing grounds – the morphing of Kampala Rugby Football Club to Legends Club added to the malaise. Yet when Sadolin Mongers early this year showed intent of acquiring a sprawling piece of land overlooking Lake Victoria, it got no concrete support from the Union.
These seemingly small pieces are the nuts and bolts that need to be addressed to help get Uganda’s rugby wagon back on the rails.
It’s about time all stakeholders got up and smelt the coffee. This rot needs to be nipped in the bud!

MEN: Kenya 34-0 Uganda
Kenya win 51-21 on aggregate
WOMEN: Kenya 39-10 Uganda
Kenya win 72-25 on aggregate
U-19: Kenya 27-12 Uganda
Kenya win 37-27 on aggregate