Rusty Lady Cranes 7s focus on finer details

Mary Gloria Ayot (with ball) charges at Pauline Bankabwire during a training session at Kyadondo Rugby Club.PHOTO/DENISE NAMALE

What you need to know:

During last year’s tournament in Jemmel, Tunisia, Uganda agonizingly lost to Madagascar 17-12 in the semifinals after extra time.

The Uganda women’s rugby sevens team have never won the Africa Women’s Sevens Championship. They want to change that this weekend.

It sounds extremely daunting especially if you factor in last time the Lady Cranes Sevens were part of an international tournament.

“We last played a big tournament against outside opposition 17 months ago,” the Lady Cranes 7s coach Charles Onen reveals Daily Monitor.

Isn’t he worried about the rustiness that could creep in when they kick off in this year’s continental event in Monastir, Tunisia?

“No, 75% of the players here were with me last year so it’s about understanding the plan and blending in. We have also had a lot of time to prepare,” he retorts.  

However, Onen admits that the long periods of inactivity have previously affected his team.

“If you look at last year’s result, we lost by two or three points in the decisive games and that could be down to having not played for long.

“I believe the only difference is that those teams play more tournaments. In a year, we have one tournament and the other could be the Kenya Safari Sevens which is no longer consistent,” he explains.

During last year’s tournament in Jemmel, Tunisia, Uganda agonizingly lost to Madagascar 17-12 in the semifinals after extra time.

The hosts then beat Uganda 17-15 in the third-place playoff as the latter settled for fourth.

In 2019, Uganda had lost 7-0 to Zimbabwe in the Main Cup quarterfinals. You have to go back to 2018 for the last time the Lady Cranes 7s reached the final.

Kenya won that trophy 29-7 in a one-sided final in Gaborone, Botswana. Only going a step better will do.

The winners of this year’s tournament will qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“First, we have to get out of our group then see what the other group throws at us. We have to focus on the finer details.

“At this point, you can train but work on the mental fortitude of the players,” Onen says. “They have to understand that this is a big opportunity. Making the Olympics is the biggest dream a player can have. This needs a lot of hard work.”

Uganda is placed in Group A alongside reigning champions South Africa, Zimbabwe and hosts Tunisia.

Group B features Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, and Madagascar.

Africa Women’s Rugby Sevens Championship

Saturday fixtures

Tunisia vs Uganda, 11am

South Africa vs Uganda, 2.06pm  

Uganda vs Zimbabwe, 4.56pm

Lady Cranes 7s squad

Agnes Nakuya (Thunderbirds), Grace Auma (Black Pearls), Lydia Namabiiro (Black Pearls), Peace Lekuru (Avengers), Sarah Kirabo (Avengers), Yvonne Najjuma (Thunderbirds), Mary Gloria Ayot (Thunderbirds), Maimunah Nassozi (Avengers), Lona Sandra Amoli (Thunderbirds), Rittah Nadunga (Black Pearls), Grace Nabaggala (Lady Pacers), Rachel Mufuwa (Black Pearls)