Walukuba Barbarians secured their place in the winners’ books as they emerged victorious in the Mileke Border 7s, becoming only the fourth team to claim a circuit in this year’s National Rugby 7s series.
They defeated two-time circuit winners—Pirates 19-12 in the final, courtesy of three tries by captain—Bob Kawanda, Edward Emiemu, and Gift Wokorach.
The showdown in the final between Walukuba and the formidable Pirates was far from a one-sided affair, contrary to what many might have predicted.
The first half saw the underdogs take the lead, defying expectations and proving they were in it to win it.
However, the Sea Robbers were not to be written off owing to their grand comebacks in the recent knockout games.
Coming back into the second half, they managed to level the score at 7 all, making the challenge even harder for the Barbarians.
Back and forth, the two sides fought, and found themselves at 12 points a-piece, yet, it was the speedster Ivan Bulima’s swift kick and chase-down that set the stage for the decisive moment.
Chasing down Bulima’s kick, Gift Wokorach touched down in stunning fashion to re-establish the lead for the Barbarians in the final play of the match and moving the score to 19-12.
They now become the fourth team to win a circuit in this year’s series, together with Pirates, Heathens, who have both won twice, and KOBs, who have one in their name.
Road to the triumph
The Barbarians’ journey to triumph was riddled with surprises as they had a tough journey to the final.
In their first game of the circuit, they lost to KOBs in the pool stage, a loss that would later be overturned and the Barbarians awarded a 20-0 victory over KOBs due to the latter fielding an ineligible player for the said game.
They went on to win their two other pool games against Rhinos and Mbale Elephants, by 27-0 and 47-0 respectively, to top the pool and secure their place in the quarter finals.
The knockout stages proved to be equally challenging.
In the quarterfinal, they came from behind to defeat Impis 17-12 and proceeded to the semifinals where they took on the series’ third placed Heathens, overcoming them 14–10.
For the first time in their history, the Jinja based side found itself in the cup final of the series, and would be facing the much dreaded and in-form Pirates, who also had not lost a single game in the weekend.