2007. There is no year that presents a fonder memory for any Ugandan Rugby fan. A picture of now retired sonic winger Allan Musoke ran in Daily Monitor newspaper, with him holding the ball, crossing the white line without any opposition to stop him.
He was touching down for the Uganda Rugby Cranes final try in a 42-11 routing of the Makis XV of Madagascar, who were on home turf in Antananarivo.
That day, we won. Not just the game, but also the Confederations of Africa Rugby trophy. Our credentials as the finest Tier 1A team in the land were rubber-stamped. Never had the future of Ugandan rugby looked any brighter.
Yet 13 years on, we are getting used to one ridiculous tale after another. Unnecessarily delayed pay to those on national duty, irregularities in the promotion and relegation structures of the Super 10 Premiership, gaps in the transfer system and the decreasing role of Schools Rugby as a feeder for the national league.
Social media will be awash with stereotype jokes about players begging for allowances to come on judgment day, while the dailies and news bulletins will pitch a memorable story on how the team is being nearly incited into rebellion for lack of financing.
It is unfortunate that these cries should come from rugby, which is without doubt Uganda’s most successful team sport, if accolades and team achievements are anything to go by.
On top of the CAR trophy in 2007, the Lady Rugby Cranes was the first Ugandan team to play at any World Cup event, and our 7s team has ruled Africa back to back in 2016 and 2017 and featured at the HSBC World 7s Series.
The side has also become a regular at the Commonwealth Games, not forgetting playing at the 2018 Rugby Sevens World Cup in USA, SanFrancisco.
We also need to remember that rugby is more of a passion-fuelled than an income-fuelled sport in Uganda.
According to the International Rugby Board, Uganda has about 14,110 registered players in the men’s, women’s and schools league categories.
More than 90 per cent of those in the men and women’s categories foot most of the requirements like buying kit, transport to training and game days, as well as feeding, gym and medical fees.
Most of the players run out because rugby is a lifestyle and yet win the country much appreciation through their game time.
The game of rugby has grown to require a significant amount of attention. It is, therefore, a courtesy call for us to wipe away these tears that are becoming a burden heavy enough to break the back of this beautiful game.
It is a courtesy call for companies to jump on board and sponsor our leagues and clubs, women, men, schools and tag alike. It is one to push our media houses to communicate rugby with the attention it deserves.
It is a message to Uganda Rugby Union to streamline the legal and practical frameworks under which our leagues operate. It is an invitation to service providers to be present at rugby games and events, to add variety and fun to them.
Above all, it is a call to us all to be at the games and events, free or paid for, to rally behind the boys and girls.
As of now, the ball is not yet in our hands. It is with the issues that are rocking our dear sport. We need to tackle them, ruck over and claim back our ball. Then we will pick it up and head over to the score line of change.
This whole effort could be just a try, but in rugby, a try could win you the game.
Mr Nnyombi is PRO at Impis Rugby Club and a Team Leader Grip Rugby Uganda.