The day Uganda left for the HSBC World Series in Dubai, little could be envisaged at the world stage.
Several Rugby enthusiasts thought the side would lose, lose, and lose in all fields.
Well, even though the side lost to South Africa in the Dubai opener 46-00, USA 29-07, Scotland 35-14, Samoa 27-19 and Canada 17-20, Uganda left some stones turned.
Two wins against Japan 19-26 and 21-17 spoke loads for several who have been watching the series for a pretty long time.
Away from, Dr. Ben Corbett – a lecturer at Loughborough University London’s new Institute for Sports Business – who suggested a tier 2 phase be introduced for countries like Uganda, and Patrick Johnson – a digital editor with a sports news site Prince Sports in British Columbia – who begged World Rugby Series organisers to find a way of bringing Uganda back for the next Sevens series, Lewis Hughes also believes Cranes lit up the tournament and changed Rugby.
In his column with Talking Rugby Union, Hughes outlines the rise of African Rugby, focusing on Kenya and Uganda.
He says Uganda “brought an exciting and original dynamic” to the rugby sevens game, one that seriously threatens to stay.
“For, despite their minnow status in rugby as a whole (the 2017 Series being the first international Sevens tournament they have qualified for), Uganda have proven to be far from the easy out most were expecting them to be,” he wrote.
“Dubai proved to be a difficult start as Uganda lost all three of their pool games to South Africa, Scotland and the United States respectively ensuring their participation in the Challenge Trophy bracket which they were thus promptly eliminated from via a 27-19 defeat to Samoa.”
“With only two rounds of the ten-stop circuit completed, there is of course no way to predict how Uganda will ultimately fare in their World Series debut,” he added.
“But even sitting in 15th place (two points ahead of Japan and two behind both Russia and Canada) after two rounds is an outstanding achievement for the latest competitive rugby nation to emerge from the nascent continental powerhouse that is Africa.
“Uganda have brought an exciting and original dynamic to rugby sevens, one that will continue.”
Uganda qualified for the World Series after winning the Africa Cup 7s.
Onyango’s men defeated Namibia 19-38 off downing power house Zimbabwe at the group stage.
The victory over the Sables was in their opening match of the Africa Cup 7s – winning Zimbabwe 19 -14 in Nairobi, Kenya
Cranes also knocked out defending champions, hosts and favourites Kenya in the semifinals.
Uganda will be back in action – April – with a trip to Hong Kong for another round of the HSBC World Series.