Uganda’s shot at the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup starts tomorrow against hosts South Africa in Johannesburg. Realistically, you would be asking for too much from Edgar Lemerigar’s team against the best team on the continent.
After four years without competitive international action in the long code of the game, Uganda lost 77-18 on aggregate to Kenya in the Elgon Cup last month. That paints the whole picture.
At the four-team tournament, Uganda knows they have a daunting task against South Africa and Kenya, but stand a chance against Madagascar, the small fries of the tournament, who are making their bow at test level. The tournament will be played on a round robin format.
The winning directly qualifies for the 2021 World Cup to be held in New Zealand, with the runners-up entering repechage tournament to be held next year.
Uganda’s team is hugely changed from the one that played both legs of the Elgon Cup, with up to seven players missing. For a team that is looking for cohesion, that should be reason to worry.
“Our first two games are key. They will make or break us but we shall try to approach every game with one intention-to win,” stated Winnie Atyang, the team captain.
And she couldn’t put it better. Facing South Africa and Kenya in succession is as good as seeing the executioner preparing the gallows. The two teams are ranked first and second on the continent and 11th and 28th in the world, respectively.
By the time Uganda faces Madagascar in the last game on August 17, the mathematics will have been sorted. And in near certain terms, Uganda’s chances of finishing in the top two are as razor-thin.
WOMEN RUGBY WORLD CUP QUALIFIER
South Africa vs. Uganda, 4pm
Madagascar vs. Kenya, 2pm
Tuesday, August 13
Kenya vs. Uganda 2pm
Madagascar vs. S. Africa 4pm
Saturday, August 17
Madagascar vs. Uganda 2pm
South Africa vs. Kenya 4pm
*Games will be livestreamed via:
LADY CRANES IN S. AFRICA
Props: Faith Namugga, Irene Nzige, Evelyn Aweku, Christine Nakayiza
Hookers: Yvonne Najjuma, Peace Mirembe
Locks: Charity Atimango, Hellen Gizamba, Teddy Iwutung
Loose forwards: Beatrice Lamunu Atim, Winnie Atyang (captain), Mary Gloria Ayot, Loy Mbabazi
Half backs: Harriet Kayonjo, Claire Anena, Rosenburg Kanyunyuzi, Christine Nakamya
Centres: Asha Nakityo, Peace Lekuru (vice captain)
Wings: Juliet Nandawula, Joan Andika, Emmanuela Oroma, Agnes Nakuya, Samiya Ayikoru, Esther Tino, Mary Kyoita