Rugby has to look inward to solve refereeing fiasco

Sunday January 27 2019

Get me right.  Referee Dennis Anguyo stresses a

Get me right. Referee Dennis Anguyo stresses a point to Warriors’ fullback Joseph Oyet recently. Rugby refeferees have been under scrutiny recently. PHOTO BY EDDIE CHICCO 

By Robert Madoi

The standout story of the first round of the Rugby Premiership has not been the undefeated streak that has left Heathens top of the pile.
No. Not even Warriors’ explosive start and subsequent implosion in what has undoubtedly been an all-consuming frenzy.
Debutants Jinja Hippos have brilliantly dovetailed their running game with the dark arts of 15s rugby, but their moment of magic has not thrust them into the spotlight.

Not by any stretch of imagination.

The highlight of the first round dear reader has remarkably been a lowlight -- the refereeing.

Last weekend, Tonny Tee’s handling of the Warriors-Heathens game took this palpable problem to unexpected depths.
Tee’s policing of rucks that ultimately resulted in the awarding of a shock penalty try in favour of Heathens only tells half the story.

The other half paints a grim picture that speaks to the absence of a critical mass of elite referees.
Uganda has just seven of them and of those only two -- Saudah Adiru and Ramsey Olinga who also doubles as the Uganda Rugby Union chief executive -- are level III.

The thanklessness that comes with calling games has further diminished any hopes of widening the pool.
The job comes off as being a tad too dreary and is as such something of a tough sell.

The abjectly few numbers have impelled the Referees Council to lower the bar.

This has had drastic consequences. What with referees from the Entebbe Society particularly proving not to be up to scratch.
It invariably follows that questions will be asked as to how the selection pool can be widened.

Council is targeting schools and clubs as it seeks to wriggle itself out of a predicament. Thankfully for them, Kings College Buddo and Black Pirates appear to be heeding the call.

The two, who have a working relationship, will hold a referees’ course next month in Buddo.

Many will be hoping that such baby steps help ameliorate what is in many respects a dire refereeing outlook in Uganda.
The safe bet though is on things getting worse before getting any better.