Hippos join table of men with Nile Special 7s title

Jinja Hippos players celebrate winning their first Nile Special 7s title. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

Coach Atibu credits Hippos' work off the ball for getting them this status. Hippos have since 2014 been known for what they can do with the ball on hand but could not operate without the ball. 

Coming into the final leg of the 2022 Nile Special 7s, Hippos needed a third place climax or do better than Heathens on the weekend to win the National Sevens Championship.

The boys from the stone town did not depend on results elsewhere, they got the job done themselves by beating Heathens 12-5 in the semifinals thanks to tries from Dennis Etwau and Tawfiq Bagalana.

The result got them past a third place finish and above Heathens to make them the fourth side to win the title after Heathens , Kobs, Pirates and Impis.

Aziz Bagalana, 22, could also be the youngest captain to lead a side to sevens championship. He was far from being captain when the 15s league ended but he was the first to show up for training for the 7s season.

That convinced coach Saidi Atibu that he was the man to lead the side. " We had to create a family setting and sync as a side. We already had the good players but needed to operate as a unit," says Bagalana. 

That family setting has pushed them to greater heights, making the semifinals at least at all legs. 

Atibu credits Hippos' work off the ball for getting them this status. Hippos have since 2014 been known for what they can do with the ball on hand but could not operate without the ball." 

"We have have always been a good offence side but or offence hurt us on many occasions. This campaign, we decided to give our defence more attention, it's no wonder the boys have enjoyed defending than ever before. They did it with a smile because they knew the rewards," said Atibu.

Their  7-0 loss to Stanbic Black Pirates in the final hurt a little, the heavy down pour made life hard for everyone and Timothy Odongo's converted try gave Pirates a second leg win. 

At 128 points none could topple Hippos but envy them, the champions had done enough to get on the table of men. 

NILE SPECIAL 7s 

Semifinals 

Heathens 5- 12Hippos

Kobs 14-15 Pirates

Third place final 

Heathens 10-0 Kobs

Final

Pirates 7-0 Hippos

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