Pirates break the duck in style

Saturday December 19 2020
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Victory dance. Pirates players pull off a well-choreographed dance move on the podium after clinching the elusive title. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO.

By Deus Bugembe

If Black Pirates ever erect a trophy cabinet at their Kings Park Arena home in Bweyorere, the 2017/ 2018 season will definitely dominate proceedings. 

It came with many returns after years of being labelled the black sheep of the folding. Enjoying one of the more stellar local rugby calendars of all time, the Sea Robbers were three major pieces of silverware richer with new stars born.  

A second Uganda Cup, the first since 2007, the first league and National Sevens titles gong would turn 2018 into the year the gods sided with Pirates.

It was a culmination of a four year project started by Anthony Kinene and polished by Bobby Musinguzi to deliver the goods – the Uganda Martyr 7s .

After a 10 year wait, Pirates finally had something to show for after beating Hima Heathens 32-20 in the Uganda Cup final at Kyadondo, a Uganda Cup trophy.  The young Pirates side received a standing ovation from the crowd – it had been a long time coming. 

Tries from Desire Ayera, Sydney Munyafu and Timothy Odongo with accuracy from tee by Conrad Wanyama did the trick. Pirates being favourites had dominated the pre-match talk and they lived up to it all the way from the first round. 

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“This is what we have been working for all this time and we have finally achieved,” Captain Ivan Magomu told Daily Monitor after hoisting the Cup. 

It was his first trophy since joining the side as a student in 2011. Denis Etuket was the only surviving member of the side that had won the same competition in 2017.

With the average age of 23, Pirates ran rings round the older Heathens lot and were up 21-3 at the break. Joel Anguyo was voted man of the match with a proper forward’s display.

Nile Special Premiership
Like it had been before the Uganda Cup kickoff, Pirates were odds on favourite to clinch a maiden league title. They had a good side that had jelled on top of bearing momentum from the Uganda Cup. 

The league title is one they were willing to trade for at any cost, it had eluded them since the club’s inception in 1996.  
While Betway Kobs and Hima Heathens exchanged league titles for a period of 22 years, Pirates looked on with frustration every campaign.

Although they were in pole position, Musinguzi downplayed the narrative at every opportunity he faced media.

“There is a very thin line between confidence and over confidence. We don’t want to be near the over confidence line,” he said days before their league opener against Impis in Makerere. 

The first statement of intent would come on match day two when Heathens hosted Pirates at the same grounds that had seen the latter win the Uganda Cup weeks earlier, Pirates got one over their hosts in a convincing 23-16 victory that got the Pirates family believing and talking.  

The Sea Robbers hit the road in bullish mood for the rest of the campaign, beating both Kobs and Heathens home and away. 
The same season saw them lose just a game, a scrappy 3-0 loss, against Rhinos. They also recorded their biggest league victory by beating Jinja Hippos 102-8. 

The unbeaten record did not come but it was never the target, a league title was the sole purpose as captain Magomu and his troops ran onto different pitches for the entire season. 

A season where their nemeses were undergoing transitions, Pirates had come of age with dominant players like Musa Muwonge, Timothy Kisiga, Barron Kasozi, Isaac Massa, Harunah Mohammed, Edgar Pajob , Conrad Wanyama, Desire Ayera, Raymond Emanzi, Didi Ruhweza and Nathan Bwambale. 

They finally had a side able to mingle with the best in the business.

National Sevens title completes treble
With the Uganda Cup and league title bagged, the Sea Robbers took one more sail with a mission to loot another elusive piece of silverware, the National Sevens Series. Leg wins in Jinja, Kyadondo and Legends took them to the Promised Land. 

The wins were supplemented with top three finishes elsewhere as they lost the Rujumba Memorial Sevens to Buffaloes and the flood lights leg to Kobs on the last day of the series. 

Rams also got the last laugh in Mbarara when they ejected Pirates 5-0 in the quarters. 

In the process, the tallied a whopping 153 points. On completing the treble, Pirates had earned commendable firsts, a first league title, a first sevens series and a first treble to join Heathens and Betway Kobs as the other treble winners.

The Makerere 10s and the Martyrs day Sevens hosted by Walukuba were added to the treble to make it a five trophy haul although the two are not major trophies. 

The 2017/2018 season saw a change in guard as Pirates made themselves the side to beat the following campaign. 

Many thought it was the beginning of many more trophy-laden seasons but a few tweaks here and there have left Pirates a different side. Still strong and with their own home, they have not won a thing since then. 

Coach Musinguzi remains buoyant that the 2017/2018 heights can be replicated for their fans, after it was the best time to be a Pirates fan.

dbugembe@ug.nationmedia.com

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