The Rugby Cranes Sevens made the country proud by winning the Africa Men’s Sevens over the weekend at Kyadondo Rugby Club, qualifying for September’s World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa, and July’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK.
Uganda beat Zimbabwe 26-0 for their third continental title in six years. As the Cranes players picked their winners’ medals at the podium, each had their own story to it.
Nine of them were going through the routine for the first time as only three of the lot had been African champions before.
Captain Michael and his brother Philip Wokorach, and Adrian Kasito are the three. While Michael was picking his second medal, Kasito and Phillip were collecting a third, putting them in a special class of Ugandan rugby.
‘Lad to maturity’
The pair was part of the 2016 winning side in Nairobi and repeated the feat when Uganda hosted and defended their title in 2017.
“It has been a long and tough but rewarding journey,” Kasito, who debuted for the side in 2016 at the same tournament, told Daily Monitor.
His debut came off the back of a breakout season for Kobs immediately out of St Mary’s College Kisubi.
“It’s all about belief,” the 27-year-old added when asked what it takes to remain a core player for that long.
His poise and shrewdness makes him an exceptional player and it was evident on the weekend as he showed up once again, defending and attacking with poise.
Like Kasito and Philip, coach Tolbert Onyango was also picking up a third winners’ medal. He was full of praise for the pair.
“There aren’t enough words to describe Philip. As an individual he is loved by everyone, carries himself well off the pitch. On the pitch he’s very professional, takes good care of himself, trains on his own too. He’s a very focused person,” Onyango said.
Seen it all
For Kasito, Onyango has been integral in his development for this span.
“He joined young but he has now seen it all. Winning his first title in 2016 gave him the impetus to make it to the top. Physically, he is a tough nut, great at defence and of late he has become very good at spotting the gaps and getting the team to play as a unit,” Onyango said of his scrum-half.
As a coach, Onyango says he gets joy by seeing players develop from when they join the team into what they become three to four years later both on and off the pitch.
In his view the side is a brand to be represented well with discipline, character and hard work. He has instilled a culture by creating an environment for players to thrive.