Sseguya’s demise casts  shadow on rugby year

Guts. Claude Otema (L) tackles Ghana’s Lesley Ansah during the Rugby  Africa Cup at Kyadondo. PHOTOS/J. Batanudde

What you need to know:

  • His death resurfaced the power of sport as it brought all together, not even his requiem mass was held in church but at Kyadondo Rugby Grounds, the same place he had made a name for himself for 22 years, scoring tries, penalties, making tackles and hurling instructions in the evening of his life.

The year kicked off with lots of reasons to smile for the rugby fraternity. Competitive games were on the verge of returning after more than a year out due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 
Robert Sseguya was itching to get his Jinja Hippos side closer to the top having led them to a record fourth place finish in the league a season before. 
He looked healthy, happy and raring to go with a lot on his plate for the year. As Rugby Cranes coach, the inaugural Rugby Africa Cup was also calling but all would go on without his hand. 

Soggy, as he was fondly known, was diagnosed with leukaemia in May, keeping him in and out of hospital until his demise in December. 
It was a tragic loss to rugby and the sporting fraternity – losing a man who diligently served the game as a player, coach, mentor and fan in ways that cannot be quantified. 
He was a legend of the game and the best to ever run with the odd shaped ball in hand in Uganda. 
His death resurfaced the power of sport as it brought all together, not even his requiem mass was held in church but at Kyadondo Rugby Grounds, the same place he had made a name for himself for 22 years, scoring tries, penalties, making tackles and hurling instructions in the evening of his life. 

The rugby circle was also robbed of the lives of  Peter Ofong, Graham Mubanda, Gerson Onono and Mathew Okema. 
Kobs clinch league title, defend 7s
Kobs had gone five seasons without a league title. They desperately needed one and acted by signing Arthur Mpande, Byron Oketayot, Mike Otto and Saul Kivumbi, Brian Ochan, Robert Masendi and James Odongo. 
It paid off with a league title coming off an unbeaten one leg campaign. 
Attention turned to the National Sevens Series where they won three of six circuits to defend it on points scored. 
Pirates came close with three circuit wins too but Kobs had done the hard work early on. It was their fifth 7s title in six years with Joseph Aredo voted MVP for 2021.

Gone too soon. Robert Sseguya.

National teams
The Rugby Cranes had a good year despite taking a different direction with a new coaching staff of Brian Makalama and Bobby Musinguzi . 
A new captain in Ivan Magomu led them to the quarterfinal of the Rugby Africa Cup – to be played in France next year. A 53-12 win over Ghana and a 16-22 loss to Algeria got Uganda a last eight berth against Kenya.
The Lady Cranes test side played a two-legged series against Zimbabwe at Kyadondo in a space of seven days, forcing a 75-3 aggregate win. 
A young sevens side captained by Ian Munyani won a plate at the Safari 7s despite preparing for a couple of days with Tolbert Onyango. It was the first time a Ugandan side had returned home from the event with silverware in 15 years.
The Lady Cranes managed Bronze at the same event, leaving coaches Charles Onen and Kigongo Sebalamu optimistic about the future.

Black Pearls firm and stronger
Black Pearls are nowhere near Thunderbirds when it comes to silverware and pedigree but the former is growing into a formidable force by the day. 
The side coached by Helen Buteme won the Women’s National Sevens Series after collecting nine points from three rounds. 
After dominating the shorter version of the game in recent times, their following would want to see the same in the 15s when the league returns next year.
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