What next after national teams serve weekend buffet with burnt offerings?

Robert Madoi

What you need to know:

  • The Rugby Cranes and Crested Cranes went for a major assignment undercooked.

With three senior national teams in action, last weekend held out if not the promise of good tidings then certainly something tolerable. Make no mistake, our representatives – hardly in the finest of fettle – weren’t expected to walk on water in Rwanda (men’s basketball), France (men’s rugby), and Morocco (women’s football). No. 

There was still reason to believe – or, at least, to hope – that they would make a fist of it. Well, they didn’t. Most of them, anyway. The shabbiest of them all were, you’ve guessed right, the Rugby Cranes. It didn’t matter one bit that they looked resplendent in a new kit. And your columnist is not trying to be paradoxical.

The Rugby Cranes were vaguely uncomfortable with the idea of turning the match played on a Parisian pitch against Kenya into a contest. And don’t get me started on the uncontested lineouts! This was an area in which the Ugandans recognised their own inadequacies. With the fading of afternoon into evening, Rugby Cranes faithful became acutely aware that the inadequacies were indeed myriad. 

And here’s the thing, the aforesaid inadequacies weren’t birthed overnight. This was—and in many respects continues to be—a long, difficult labour. Those of us who watched our noisy neighbours allocate more urgency and resources to prepare the Kenya Simbas were under no illusions about what awaited an ill-prepared Rugby Cranes outfit. But we too quickly became alarmed that the scale of destruction was what once was imagined only in dystopian fictions.

All said, it was understandable that confusion about Rugby Cranes’ decline ripened into a kind of disdain. To this day, many still burn with conviction that their clenched indignation isn’t misplaced. What your columnist doesn’t agree with though is that the baby be thrown out with the bathwater. This is as far as the split of the 15s and 7s codes is concerned. Local rugby officials should instead burn the midnight oil in trying to expand the player base. They should get to the bottom of why the success in player retention continues to be limited.

But it was not just rugby for whom the worst human impulses successfully threatened its success last weekend. Playing in only their second Africa Women Cup of Nations, the Crested Cranes went about business with an attitude that frankly didn’t meet the expectations of many. 

The casualness displayed during the 2-0 defeat at the hands of Senegal made many wonder whether Uganda had a coach in the dugout. Maybe it didn’t! In fact, it’s not a stretch to contend that the team would have gone places if the person calling traffic from the touch line had an abrasive manner and hard-living reputation.

George Lutalo was only handed the Crested Cranes reins last September, supposedly for showing great passion on the campaign trail when Moses Magogo was electioneering. Lutalo, who will be part of Wasswa Bbosa’s backroom staff at Modern Gaddafi in the men’s top flight league, reportedly mixes up names of current Crested Cranes players with such absurd ease!

Now if that’s not the epitome of incompetence, I don’t know what is! Just like the Rugby Cranes in France, the Crested Cranes went for a major assignment when they were, er, undercooked.
While what the Silverbacks cooked in Rwanda lacked the firm tartness, it came closest to being tolerable. The basketball team also fashioned the lone win – albeit via a walkover – as the weekend sports buffet served up an unpalatable mix. 
The Rugby Cranes of course went on to edge past Senegal by the slimmest of margins midweek.

The Crested Cranes also emerged from a poorly refereed match against hosts Morocco with their heads held high. But the fact that the refereeing in the 3-1 loss was just as abjectly poor as the team’s defending left a nauseating taste in the mouth. The buffet was terrible. Simple as that!

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