Hippos, Rhinos in early audition for playoffs

Teams will now want to confirm their final placement ahead of the Nile Special Rugby Championship playoffs. PHOTO/FRED MWAMBU

What you need to know:

Rhinos had started the season well and were toe-to-toe with Heathens at the top until week six when Hippos dislodged them and never returned.

All the 12 teams in the 2024 Nile Special Rugby Championship already know their fate ahead of Saturday’s penultimate round of the regular season.

The eight for championship battle and the four for relegation have been confirmed.

What remains is the teams to consolidate their positions because the playoff fixtures depend on the final table standings. 

Jinja Hippos host Rhinos in one of the few fixtures left with some juice today in Jinja. Hippos have surpassed expectations to achieve their best-ever finish to sit second with 35 points, three behind Heathens.

Rhinos had started the season well and were toe-to-toe with Heathens at the top until week six when Hippos dislodged them and never returned.

By the look of things, Rhinos sitting seventh with 23 points are primed to face Hippos in the quarterfinals making today’s affair a perfect precursor for the playoffs.

“They’re a good team with some weight and skill in the scrum but we need to give our best and test their limits to be prepared well just in case we face them in the quarters,” Hippos coach Ricardo Quaresma said.

Rhinos have collected only three points since Hippos toppled them on match day six.

Their coach Martial Tchumkam partly blames his backs for wasting chances but believes they’re working on them.

He promises an entertaining but more reserved approach today by not exposing too much to their likely opponent in the knockouts.

“I believe both teams have no pressure at the moment so we expect it to be a game with a lot of observations because we may face them again in playoffs,” Tchumkam said.

Elsewhere, third and fourth-placed Pirates and Kobs, tied on 28 points, will seek to pile more misery on relegation-threatened Kampani Eagles and Rams to keep in the top four bracket.

The top four will face the middle four (5th-8th) in the quarterfinals and therefore the two giants will fight hard to keep Buffaloes and Mongers, who are just a point below (27), in the bottom bracket to gain advantage in the playoffs.

Buffaloes and Mongers hit the road to face Walukuba and Warriors at Legends and Jinja respectively.

Leaders Heathens will host Impis at Kyadondo.

In the women’s fixtures, Black Pearls will host Thunderbirds in a top-table clash. Pearls lead the table with 35 points from seven straight wins while their visitors sit second with 30.

Third-placed Avengers have She Wolves in Entebbe as Panthers search for their first win against Ewes.

Nile Special Rugby Championship 

Men’s fixtures – 4 pm

Rams vs. Kobs – Makerere

Heathens vs. Impis – Kyadondo

Jinja Hippos vs. Rhinos – Dam Waters

Kampani Eagles vs. Black Pirates – Kitante

Warriors vs. Mongers – Legends

Walukuba Barbarians vs. Buffaloes – Jinja

Women’s fixtures

Blacks Pearls vs. Thunderbirds – Kings Park, 4 pm

Avengers vs. She Wolves – Entebbe, 3 pm

Panthers vs. Ewes – Legends, 2 pm