Ruggers still work in progress

Sunday August 25 2019

Hooker Odugo pressed claim for extended spell

Hooker Odugo pressed claim for extended spell in the team by nailing his lineout throws and a debut try against Zambia. PHOTO BY EDDIE CHICCO 

By Robert Madoi

After a startlingly awful run on home soil, the Rugby Cranes’ thaw was foreseeable - just not to Robert Seguya. Yet for a moment the poor run was lost to the fog of history after Seguya watched his charges run in five tries during a comfortable win over Zambia at Kyadondo Rugby Club last weekend.

As the stars tore through a cloudless sky, Seguya spectacularly failed in his attempt to betray no outward joy during the after party.
The Rugby Cranes coach cut loose and unapologetically danced when asked to. If one needed further indication as to how low Ugandan rugby’s stock has fallen, there it was.

Wins against Zambia are not supposed to be celebrated with such sentimental fondness. And yet the after party at Kyadondo provided a plausible picture of just how much we find a win over rugby backwater tellingly attractive.

Loosening the noose
After agonising over what to do and often looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights during this year’s Victoria Cup campaign, Seguya now had a much-needed win to loosen the noose round his neck.

To be fair to Seguya, he was the first to admit at post match that his side remains a work in progress.
Despite wisely managing their expectations, the hosts had gone into the Test match intent on coming through unscathed and, with any luck, their reputation enhanced. They, however, found the latter goal complex, impossibly so.

The toll was particularly devastatingly personal for Seguya. While he must have been enveloped by a deep sense of pride after watching Zambia’s scrum backpedal on multiple occasions, the breakdown brought with it disadvantages by the bucket-load.

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No-one could ever imagine the visitors dominating the loose or getting 22 points on the scoreboard for that matter. So taken together it can be said with some certainty that the realisation of those two improbabilities took the wind out of Uganda’s sails.
The stark realities unfortunately didn’t stop at that.
Last weekend’s Test was for all intents and purposes one that unpacked contrasting tales for two young hookers.

Faragi Odugo radiated incredible competence or be it against an opponent we cannot accept rugbying parity with. He pressed a claim for a extended spell in the team by nailing his lineout throws and displaying such rocket-fuelled explosiveness in open play. His debut try set up after Ivan Magomu had the presence of mind to hit the gap was richly deserved.

But while Odugo reached out for the gearshift and found the right gear, the same cannot be said of another hooker - Joseph Kagimu. The Kenyan-based player remained seriously wounded and by his own hand.
He strained under the weight of his struggles so much so that the less said about his debut the better.
Twice his lineout throws comically wound up as statistics in the turnover column.

Attacking platform
The hooker position has been rather problematic for Uganda. This is hardly good news because the lineout is always a great attacking platform. What has exacerbated this problem is the inability of Rugby Cranes hookers to stay the course as the evergreen Alex Mubiru did.
The names of the likes of Paul Sekatte and Nathan Bwambale turned out to be but a faint echo. Can Odugo and Ronald Kanyanya prove to be the exception to the rule?

Both upstarts vied for the No.2 jersey during yesterday’s Test against Zimbabwe in Harare. Which is just as well for this Rugby Cranes side remains a work in progress.

What we now know....

We know that KCCA FC plays in this evening’s Pilsner Super Eight final barely a day after featuring in a competitive match.
The Kasasiro Boys came up against Namibian champions African Stars in a Caf Champions League preliminary round tie on Friday.
We know that Mike Mutebi’s charges went into Friday’s return leg looking to overturn a 3-2 first leg deficit.

Which is another way of saying they must have left nothing on the StarTimes Stadium astroturf.
We also know that this should be music to the ears of Vipers who will look to make the most of KCCA players’ fatigue.
We also know that the Venoms have problems of their own with the trio of Muhammad Shaban, Rashid Toha and Geoffrey Wasswa set to miss out through injury.
Editor: KCCA beat African Stars 2-0. The two late goals were scored by Allan Okello Mustafa Kizza.

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