Bruised Rugby Cranes fight for fifth place

Busy. Rugby Cranes turn focus to the Elgon Cup. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE

What you need to know:

  • Reduced to fighting for placement, a late show was enough to edge Senegal 30-29 on Wednesday to move into today’s fifth place playoff against Ivory Coast in France.

This has been a bruising week for the national 15s rugby team – the Rugby Cranes. Hopes of making the 2023 Rugby World Cup were extinguished fast.

A 42-7 loss to Kenya in last Saturday’s Rugby Africa Cup left Uganda with some soul searching to do.

Reduced to fighting for placement, a late show was enough to edge Senegal 30-29 on Wednesday to move into today’s fifth place playoff against Ivory Coast in France.

This will be the first meeting between Uganda and the West Africans in seven years. Rugby Cranes won that Africa Cup tier 1B tie 40-11 at Kyadondo ground.

Wing Lawrence Ssebuliba and eighth man Scott Olouch scored tries that day and remain part of the side even if so much has changed.

The one constant that remains is that the Ivorians, beaten 38-11 by Zimbabwe in their quarterfinal, remain significantly bigger than coach Fred Mudoola’s side.

That would imply one thing – for Uganda to win the latest episode, the backline must spread the ball to stretch the opposition.

In a week that could represent disappointment, back row Jacob Ochen’s two tries in the two games thus far could be a vital building block.

His try against Kenya earned him a start against Senegal, touching down again. France-based ace Philip Wokorach came to the party too, contributing 18 points in the victory.  

Uganda must also tighten up defensively having shipped 81 points. Ivory Coast have conceded 55 in their two games, beating Burkina Faso 38-17 to get here.

While it’s an important game for a Ugandan side in need of salvaging pride, it will only be a slideshow to the final where Namibia and Kenya clash for a place at the World Cup.

Namibia are seeking a seventh straight appearance at the global showpiece while Uganda’s east African neighbours need to upset the odds to make a debut.

The loser will contest an intercontinental playoff.

2022 AFRICA CUP
Tomorrow’s fixtures  
Fifth place playoff
Uganda         vs.         Ivory Coast
Seventh place playoff
Senegal         vs.         Burkina Faso
Third place playoff
Zimbabwe         vs.         Algeria
Final
Namibia         vs.         Kenya
2022 ELGON CUP
July 23: Uganda         vs.         Kenya
July 30: Kenya         vs.         Uganda  

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