Heathens withstand Sea Robbers for number 17

Platinum Credit Heathens players celebrate after lifting the 2024 Nile Special Rugby Championship at Kyadondo. PHOTOS/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

Heathens have been a step ahead this season, going unbeaten in the regular season and only faltering against Kobs. 

Heathens capped a dominant season with a record-extending 17th Nile Special Rugby Championship title after narrowly beating Pirates 15-13 at Kyadondo on Saturday.

Heathens have been a step ahead this season, going unbeaten in the regular season and only faltering against Kobs. 

That second-leg semifinal loss to their Legends’ neighbours came when they had a comfortable lead. The Yellow Machine was not at its lethal best but completed the job.

Heathens' Aaron Ofoywroth (L) kicks the ball into Pirates' Timothy Kisiga. 

Ivan Magomu kicked Pirates into the lead after only five minutes, sending an early warning. 

Heathens responded promptly, with Emmanuel Byamugisha and Joaquim Chisano’s tries giving them a 12-3 lead at the break.

Malcolm Okello extended Heathens' lead to 15-3 shortly after the restart. 

Pirates' Mubarak Wandera sits on the ground crestfallen. 

However, two quick-fire tries by Roy Kizito and Jeremiah Okello threatened an upset but Pirates can only blame their own misdeeds; man-of-the-match Magomu failed to capitalize on the extras while Nathan Bwambale and Haruna Mohammed caused a numerical disadvantage by taking turns in the sin bin. 

As an individual, Magomu didn't deserve to lose as he broke the Heathens' defensive line on several occasions like a knife through butter. He was playing on a different level from his teammates. 

Pirates Haruna Muhammed (15) got the full wrath of a tackle. 

“We had a late surge but it wasn’t good enough, though we give it to Heathens for a good game,” Pirates coach Marvin Odong said after conceding the title. He warned, “It is 2-0 for Heathens, but I assure you we won’t give them the sevens.”

Heathens’ coach Mohammed Athiyo revealed the team had a few deficiencies, especially in their front row during the season but emphasized that teamwork and mobility delivered the holy grail.

“We’ve been struggling with the front row and that’s something that we’ll continue working on even after the season but our greatest strength has been our mobility,” Athiyo said.

Heathens fan Kassim Kyazze had every reason to light yellow smoke. 

Athiyo has now won five titles in the last eight years since taking over from the late Robert ‘Soggy’ Seguya in 2015.

Heathens' next mission is to complete a domestic treble by claiming the national sevens title, having already secured the league and cup titles.

Nile Special Rugby Championship 

Result - final 

Heathens 15-13 Pirates

Previous league winners

1991: Heathens

1992: Heathens

1993: Heathens

1994: Not held

1995: Kobs

1996: Impis

1997: Kobs

1998: Kobs

1999: Kobs

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

2020: Heathens

2021: Kobs 

2021/22: Heathens

2023: Pirates

2024: Heathens