Players and coaches want the Uganda Rugby Union (URU) and government to capitalise on the 7s team’s progressive showing on the international stage to move the game to the next level.
This after Rugby Cranes demolished Burundi, Tunisia, Zambia, Botswana, Kenya and Zimbabwe at the weekend to qualify for both the World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa and Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Uganda were so dominating team captain Michael Wokorach declared: “I’ve played played across three generations,” said the three-time Commonwealth Games and one-time World Cup representative for Uganda.
“And I haven’t seen a group that is as talented and hungry as these boys this just ended weekend.”
But having qualified for the second successive World Cup, the lingering question for coaches, players and of course the union is how to use this to effect wholesome improvements.
“I believe the most important bit now is to cement the structures already in place,” said winning coach Tolbert Onyango, “have a consistent academy side.
“We need to build capacity of our our A side by ensuring we have a 30-man squad that can compete favourably with the top teams in the world as opposed to relying on a 12-man squad”. Onyango added: “Then get the them to take part in regular high intensity competitions.”
Remuneration of players
Players contracts is the other issue that has got to be urgently looked at if professionalization of the game is to be achieved.
URU made a positive step some four years back when they introduced contracts to the 7s depending on a given year’s activity calendar.
According to the union president Godwin Kayangwe, “the contracts we have are performance based.
“The lowest a player takes home is Shs500,000, with the highest being Shs1m. Coaches also have their arrangement.
“By the way even the 15s have these performance based contracts, with the least getting Shs500,000 and highest Shs800,000. This is also based on activity calendar.”As of today, a total of only 20 sevens players based on this season’s national team activities are on the mentioned amounts.
On top of the said monthly salary for the 7s, each player earned Shs1.5m bonus for winning the Africa Rugby Men’s 7s final at the weekend.
But even Kayangwe admits this is peanuts. “It is not enough, but at least better than four years ago when this system started.
“We would want both players and coaches to get better contracts. Now that we have qualified for two major tournaments, we hope government will come on board and help as well. “We need external help to do all we want to do.”
Wokorach agrees: “We put in a lot,” he said, “But need that extra push. What the union gets from the National Council of Sports (NCS) is not enough.
“Look at the teams we are going to face! South Africa is fully funded. We have had a lot of people congratulating us...
Across the border
“Politicians, the First Lady (Janet Museveni, the Education and Sports Minister)... They have all congratulated us. Let them turn the congratulations into some fund to support the team now.” Across border in Kenya, their 7s team are in a better spot.
As of 2020, for example, Kenya 7s national team coach, also the overall manager of the squad, took home KSh120,000 (Shs3.7m) per month, while the rest of his team received KSh90,000 (Shs2.7m) each.
The above is before the added benefit of fully-paid travels abroad.The Kenya 7s arrangement is jointly handled jointly by Kenya Airways and their union.
RUGBY CRANES 7S
19th out of 24 teams in 2018
(2006, 2010, 2014, 2018)
(2016, 2017, 2022)
2022 AFRICA CUP WINNING TEAM
Michael Wokorach (captain), Philip Wokorach, Adrian Kasito, Aaron Ofoyrworth, Claude Otema, Kelvin Balaggade, Timothy Kisiga, Desire Ayera, Ian Munyani (vice-captain), Nobert Okeny, Karim Arinaitwe, Isaac Massanganzira