Rugby officials hopeful despite gloomy forecast

Thursday June 18 2020

Heathens’ Michael Wokorach (L) breaks a

Heathens’ Michael Wokorach (L) breaks away from Kobs’ Alfred Karekaho during one of Uganda’s biggest derby games in years gone by. PHOTO BY EDDIE CHICCO  

By ROBERT MADOI

Rugby still has a hard road ahead after the National Council of Sports (NCS) categorised it as a high-risk sports activity. The handegg has 11 others giving it company in a classification of sporting disciplines “highly probable to having respiratory particles transmitted between participants.”

Uganda Rugby Union (URU) secretary Peter Odong is not in doubt about what the classification means.

“It basically means we need to put in more effort and move to streamline the processes. We have actually drafted our communication to the clubs and facilities, but we sure need to manage expectations,” said Odong. Expectations of watching live matches have been gradually dropping. The handegg’s attempt to shake off shackles of the coronavirus shutdown has run into one speed bump after another - both home and away.

Cancelling international season
The first blow came away from home. Rugby Africa’s resolution at the start of this month to cancel its 2020 season took the wind out of the sails. In a statement, the overseers of rugby on the continent said the decision — arrived at after an extraordinary executive committee meeting — was informed by a “desire to prioritise players’ health above all else.”

Remarkably, Odong believes the development could be a blessing in disguise.
He says: “The cancellation of international events scheduled in the calendar will create some window of comfort to complete the [local] season especially if the lifting of the ban comes in sooner than later.”

There was effectively a two-horse race in the Nile Stout Rugby Premier League when a moratorium was placed on sports activities in Uganda on March 18.

Advertisement

Prior to that, an undefeated streak not only had Hima Cement Heathens in a good place but also made a title defence distinctly possible.

Running Heathens close were their sworn enemies, Betway Kobs. Davis Kyewalabye’s charges had lost only once in the topflight league. Unsurprisingly, the defeat came at the hands of Heathens in a low scoring, floodlit encounter at Kyadondo.

Hoping for the best
“If all goes well, we could complete the league. We have decided to create further room to ensure its completion by cancelling the Uganda Cup,” Odong revealed, adding, “With the Uganda Cup out of the way, we would dive straight to the [national] sevens series after completing the league.”

The Uganda Rugby Union is also working out the monetary cost of adhering to Council’s standard operating procedures. In the event that the local season cannot be completed, Odong says thus: “we will have to bring the Club Chairman’s roundtable and League Management board to pronounce themselves on this decision.”

PAST LEAGUE CHAMPIONS
LAST 20 YEARS
2000: Kobs
2001: Kobs
2002: Heathens
2003: Kobs
2004: Heathens
2005: Heathens
2006: Kobs
2007: Kobs
2008: Kobs
2009: Heathens
2010: Heathens
2011: Heathens
2012: Heathens
2013: Heathens
2014: Kobs
2015: Heathens
2016: Kobs
2017: Heathens
2018: Pirates
2019: Heathens

rmadoi@ntv.co.ug

Advertisement