Rugby could return to Kings Park, home of Black Pirates, on January 23, a date identified for the new Nile Special Premiership season.
It will be 10 months since the grounds hosted a competitive game in which Pirates beat Buffaloes 23-9 days before all sporting activities in the country were suspended as a Covid-19 measure.
It remains unclear how the Uganda Rugby Union will set up for the long awaited return of the games.
Pirates coach Bobby Musinguzi expects an “interesting season” with so many questions on going about the new normal.
“The health and safety of players is paramount. We’ve seen games cancelled due to the virus break out in some team camps. With our league not having a ‘bubble’ set up, it will be interesting to see how it will be managed,” he told Daily Monitor.
Go-ahead with SOPs
The Uganda Cricket Association held a weeklong competition that had players tested and monitored from a restricted location.
The National Council of Sports (NCS) and the Ministry of Health gave a thumbs up to the bubble (quarantine centre) experience. Asking URU to match that with ten sides in a bubble for the entire camping is unrealistic.
With games at different locations and teams rosters of up to 40 players, the idea of a bubble would be a financial bother for the ever financially wanting union.
In the past seasons, the league has kicked off a fortnight or even less after the Uganda Cup with players fit and raring to go for the six-month competition.
It will, however, not be the case this time with a hiatus of 10 months. A quick assessment at the 10 league sides reveals that none is yet to conduct a proper training session.
“We haven’t had the opportunity to train as a team. With the government restrictions on contact sports team training hasn’t been possible,” confirmed Musinguzi.
“Players were doing individual training at the beginning of the lockdown but as the opening up of sports kept hanging, many have lost the motivation or moved on to other pressing needs during the pandemic.”
Captain Isaac Massa thinks it’s up to the players to stay in good shape with the current settings.
“It’s upon every one individually to get in shape, the current situation cannot let you have proper training structures and also facilitate everyone,” he said.
The league starting in January would also mean a reshuffled rugby calendar and it remains a mystery how players and clubs will cope. The Uganda Cup and National Sevens Series, too, will need to get new slots in the diary.