Leadership is one of sport’s intangibles, and in rugby it is as imposing now as ever it was. Rugby captains have to demonstrate an ability to think on their feet.
The belief in the wisdom of an egg chaser’s directing hand is a necessity rather than a choice. More so if they are captaining an outfit. The investment of trust in rugby captains demands of them to be a physical and intellectual presence on the pitch.
They are not expected to collapse under the weight of their own contradictions.
And yet Rugby Cranes captain Asuman Mugerwa remains wrenched out of his current workings more than a year after his appointment.
The indefatigable prop has more moving parts than an orchestra, only they don’t always work in harmony.
Sessions full of jangling dissonances have unfortunately been commonplace during his stewardship.
Mugerwa has consequently proven to be serviceable without being anywhere near the class of his immediate predecessor Brian Odongo. This has not been without consequences.
The Rugby Cranes have mirrored their captain in his lack of direction and substance.
Next weekend, Rugby Cranes faithful will balk at the prospect of losing a third consecutive home Test when Zambia come to town.
Of course to say that Mugerwa is solely responsible for the paralysing horror of Uganda’s situation would be an odd and striking thing. The breadth of Uganda’s problems is much greater than might have been anticipated. It certainly straddles farther than a botched captaincy. Take the Kenya Test.
The Rugby Cranes were denied quick possession after the Simbas fractured their supply line by expertly controlling the tackle area.
But if they struggled at the breakdown in the Kenya Test, their concentration and discipline melted rather spectacularly against Zimbabwe.These deficits cannot entirely be blamed on a flawed captaincy.
Frequency and ferocity
Yet attacks against the Rugby Cranes captain continue to grow in both their frequency and ferocity. Here is why: rugby is a game of fine margins. A captain’s judgment of the merits of a decision taken is telling. That is why they are expected to be very single minded about what they want.
Against Kenya, most of Mugerwa’s decisions were met with much scepticism. Rugby Cranes fans for instance reacted with consternation at the decision not to change the place kicker even after Philip Wokorach serially failed to split the uprights. The choice to go for a line-out when another three pointer was dangled shortly before Jacob Ojee delivered a coup de grace provided more evidence.
Evidence that the captaincy is a job for which Mugerwa is peculiarly ill-suited.
A change of captaincy of course won’t of course mean that success for Rugby Cranes is by all means assured.
Such a change cannot also be dismissed as sticking plaster to deal with a broken system. It will in fact take a quiet, pale presence away from the captaincy. This could ultimately unburden Mugerwa and lead to a timely spike in ball carries.
Such a chain of events admittedly has a certain appeal if anything because it smacks of a win-win.