Rugby Cranes To Embrace ‘Underdog’ Status In France

Uganda Rugby Cranes team posing before flag-off at Lugogo. (Photo by Mugabi Don)

•Uganda Vs Kenya
•Senegal Vs Algeria
•Namibia Vs Burkina Faso
•Zimbabwe Vs Ivory Coast

Uganda’s National Rugby 15s team, the Rugby Cranes have been flagged off for the Rugby World Cup African qualifiers in France due July 1-10 2022.

The final bend of the tournament, that is controversially being played in France, is a qualification pathway to the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The Eight teams are competing for the one direct ticket to the World Cup in France next year, while the runner up will try their luck at the final Qualification Tournament.

The Rugby Cranes were flagged off on Monday evening by State Minister for Sports Hon Hamson Obua at Cropper Chimney in Lugogo.

The team, coached by Fred Mudoola, leaves on Monday night to France after weeks of preparations.

All You Need To Know:

These World Cup Qualifiers started with a Rugby Africa Cup Repechage which was won by Burkina Faso in June last year.

But Uganda started their journey at the Round 2 in July last year, going on to top a three-nation group held at Kyadondo that also had Algeria and Ghana to reach the Quarterfinals.

And the quarterfinalists are Uganda, Kenya, Senegal, Algeria, Namibia, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe and Ivory Coast.

The continuation of the tournament will for the first time be played outside Africa, a decision the Rugby Africa officials blamed on COVID-19 outbreak at the time before the decision was made.

Kenya, First Stumbling Block

Kenya and Uganda meeting also raise eyebrow, be it Football, Cricket, Rugby or any other sports discipline.

But in Rugby, the Kenya Simbas have more enjoyed more success that their Ugandan counterparts.

Kenya, ranked number 35, have beaten Uganda who are ranked at 52, 22 times. The meeting has seen two draws while Uganda have won on 10 occassions in those 34 times.

History says that the first official match between Uganda and Kenya took place in 1958 in Kampala, a game Uganda lost 11-21.

“It’s never easy, it’s a derby, we are going there as massive underdogs, they have had two camps in Cape Town, but I believe the Boys want to send out a strong message and we are buzzing to go,” said Rugby Cranes captain Ivan Magomu.

Kenya have been active thanks to their Currie Cup adventure where they won three and lost six matches to finish eighth overall.

Captain Ivan Magomu. Courtesy photo

But Magomu is unfazed and banking on good preparations to take the team home.

“The preparations have been good, the spirit of the Boys are high. We have seven debutants, and it’s also a mixture of young blood.

“The newcomers have to fit in the shoes and am confident they can fit in very well. We are going to compete. We have had good preparations and we want to go all the way to the finals ”

If Uganda negotiates past Kenya Simbas, they will face winner between Senegal and Algeria at the semifinals.

Uganda meet Kenya in the quarterfinal fixture on July 2nd while the semifinals will be played on July 6 and the final is to be held four days later at the Stade Maurice David, Aix-en-Provence.

No Turning Back – Mudoola Confident

Rugby Cranes Coach Fred Mudoola said that his warriors are ready to die for their country.

“We have trained for around three months, and at this point there is no turning back it’s about showcasing what really Ugandans can do,” Mudoola said.

“I know we have a couple of young players but it gives an opportunity to more players and young players to also keep working hard.

“Like any team, we want to go out there and win. Kenya are very physical, they use a lot of their forwards and they have serious runs.

“We have done the best, they have been in Currie cup and that will not be our excuse. We have to go there and compete.”

It’s strong to note that both Uganda and Kenya have never played at the Rugby 15s World Cup Cup.

Namibia have played at 6 world Cups (1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019) and will be the favourite to run away with the direct ticket.

Ivory Coast (1995) and Zimbabwe (1987, 1981) are the other African nations in these Qualifiers (Quarters) to have played at the World Cup.

South Africa, who have won the Rugby World Cup thrice and are defending champions, already qualified to 2023 edition due to their previous record.

Flag off of Rugby Cranes. Mugabi Arts photo

Team Uganda To France

Uganda Rugby Cranes XV team – Robert Aziku (KOBs), Emong Eliphaz (Jinja Hippos), Paul Epillo (Heathens), Thomas Gwokto (Heathens), Joseph Aredo (KOBs), Ronald Kanyanya (Heathens), Collin Kimbowa (KOBs), Akera Komakech (Heathens), Ivan Magomu (Stanbic Black Pirates), Alhaji Manano (KOBs), Asuman Mugerwa (Kabras), James Mugisha (Stanbic Black Pirates), Jacob Ochen (Jinja Hippos), Uhuru Charles (Heathens), Timothy Odong (Stanbic Black Pirates), Faraj Odugo (KOBs), Pius Ogena (KOBs), Solomon Okia (Stanbic Black Pirates), Joaquim Chisano (Heathens), Scott Olwoch (Heathens), Mark Omoding (Kenya Harlequins), Michael Otto (KOBs), Joseph Oyet (Heathens), Alema Ruhweza (Stanbic Black Pirates), Lawrence Ssebuliba (Heathens), Santos Ssenteza (Heathens), Conrad Wanyama (Stanbic Black Pirates), Philip Wokorach (AS Bédarrides – Châteauneuf-du-Pape)

•Coach – Fred Mudoola
•Assistant – Anthony Heugh
•Assistant – Robert Musinguzi
•Technical Manager – Eric Butime
•Physio – Noah Kayongo
•Doctor – Sulaiman Wasukira
•Strength And Conditioning – Allan Otim



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