Kobs vs Pirates Credit: Courtesy

When Kobs and Black Pirates face off, the rivalry between the two can be felt in the atmosphere at the pitch in the moments leading up to kick-off. Kobs vs Pirates is not just any rugby match, rather, it is a personal affair that can only be settled after the final whistle.

The two great clubs have produced some of the finest rugby players the country has ever seen. After going back into the archives and hearing from the ardent rugby fans that have witnessed great talents come and go, here is my combined best XV from Kobs and Black Pirates.

1. Fred Mudoola (Kobs)

Fred “FM” Mudoola is said to be one of the best props Uganda has ever produced. The heavily built forward was a hard-working player who had the ability to go the full length of the match.

2. Deo Tumuhairwe (Black Pirates)

Deo, as he is more popularly known, was a strong ball carrier and resourceful front-row forward. He checked all the boxes of an ideal hooker with his consistency at the lineout & scrum.

3. Brian Odong (Kobs)

Brian “BOD” Odong gets the pick for the qualities he possesses as a modern-day tighthead prop and also as a leader. Odong manifested as a great player & captain for his club (and country) whose solid scrummaging and ball-carrying saw him earn the Best Rugby Player gong from USPA in 2012.

A tough pick ahead of specialist forwards coach Brian Makalama who continues to share his expertise with the new generation of pack players.

Former Rugby Cranes skipper Brian Odong Credit: © Kawowo Sports | AISHA NAKATO

4. Joel “Debbo” Anguyo (Kobs and Black Pirates)

If you ever needed a player to secure your lineouts and steal the opponents’ balls at the set-piece, Joel “Debbo” Anguyo was the man. A towering tight-five forward who broke into the national ranks from high school in Namilyango College when he was barely 19 years, Debbo was a breakdown specialist and a leader.

He played for both Kobs and Black Pirates, but his career was marred by a long painful injury that sidelined him for 5 years.

Pirates’ Joel Anguyo quenches his thirst in a tough match against Rhinos (Green). Credit: Courtesy

On his return, he was instrumental in Black Pirates’ treble-winning 2017/18 season in which he took a surprising season-long kicking role for the Sea Robbers that saw them go unbeaten for more than 400 days.

5. Victor Wadia (Kobs)

Having kicked off an illustrious rugby career in 1998 at Entebbe SS, the soft-spoken Wadia joined Kobs in 2002 from Makerere Impis and etched his name on the Ugandan Rugby Hall of Fame (if there was any) for his performance in the sky blue jersey.

Notable mentions for these two tight forwards positions include Henry Rujumba and Edward Kitaka whose diligent service to the clubs both on and off the pitch is honoured in their respective memorial sevens circuits.

6. Brian Asaba (Kobs)

Brian Asaba’s skill as a ball carrier in open play is impeccable, and he possesses the strength to break tackles. His impact for the Kobs on setpieces is undoubted, especially his quick reaction on scrums to arrest a charging 8th man pick.

Brian Asaba lifts the 2019 Uganda Cup

A proven and worthy leader, Asaba is also a player that gives his ultimate best for 80 minutes and does not stop pushing until the final whistle is blown, and this is clearly evident.

7. Daniel Canowera (Black Pirates)

Daniel Canowera combined raw strength with pace in the loose forwards which made him such an asset for the Sea Robbers.

Canowera was the kind of player that didn’t shine every matchday, but when he decided to take matters into his own hands, he was a deadly force to reckon with.

Notable mention for both open side and blind flanks include Mathias Ochwo, Timothy Ddumba, Michael Wandera and Vicent Otim.

8. Marvin Odong (Black Pirates)

Marvin Odong possesses the strength of a buffalo and the killer instinct of a tiger. The lanky loose forward is well known for tormenting opposition, especially from setpieces. A menace in the lineout and a hard nut to crack at the scrum, Odong

Marvin Odong Credit: Bwaha Denise

Odong’s career has sadly been ruined by recurring injuries that dropped him to the sidelines, but the entire rugby fraternity looks forward to his return.

Notable mention: Adrian Bukenya

9. Davis Kyewalabye (Black Pirates & Kobs)

Davis Kyewalabye was a player who kept defenses on their toes with his rapid ball recycling from the breakdown and eagle-eye vision that opened gaps for his forwards.

Kyewalabye was also a surprise package in defense. His small size was deceptive to opponents against whom he completed clean tackles.

Kobs Davis Kiwalabye with the ball as the referee intervenes Credit: Hima Sports

Notable mentions: Anthony Kinene, Philip Karumuna, Conrad Wanyama, David Kirabira and Faisal Gama.

10. Ivan “Gomus” Magomu (Black Pirates)

The debate for who is the best flyhalf to ever play the game of rugby in Uganda will never end. And this is because of two great players, Edmond Tumusiime and Ivan Magomu who are a decade apart in playing days. For most, however, Magomu is the next best thing to happen to Uganda at flyhalf since Tumusiime.

Ivan Magomu

Ivan Magomu is not only an exceptional flyhalf, but he is also a player who will make those playing around him look good. Magomu is the architect to Black Pirates’ backline masterplan that has unlocked all defenses they’ve faced with ease. He possesses a sharp pass and his boot knows no boundaries.

Edmond Tumisiime Credit: © Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE

11. Justin Kimono (Kobs)

If there’s one thing Ugandan rugby fans love, it is a strong and aggressive player, and there is no doubt that Justin Kimono fits that bill perfectly. His big hits and fends with ball in hand send the stands into loud cheers and ululations.

Kimono burst into the rugby scene in 2011 as a young wonderboy from Namilyango College whose fast-paced yet powerful style of rugby was an entertaining sight to behold. The wing possessed such strength that it usually took more than one player to stop him at full pace.

Slowed down by injuries, Kimono still plays active rugby for Kobs, the only club he knows but he still remains a threat to local and international defenses.

Justin Kimono Credit: © Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE

12. Paul Kabazzi (Pirates)

Simply put, Paul Kabazzi could be the last natural inside center to have played for Black Pirates, and even the Uganda Rugby Cranes. There hasn’t been another player to master that role like Kabazzi did during his time.

Kabazzi called time on his rugby career to focus on his medical profession, and many felt he still had another glorious season in him. But what a career that was!

Notable mention includes Stone Luggya and the most recent Oscar Kalyango who has had a shortlived career due to injury.

13. Timothy Mudoola (Kobs)

Timothy Mudoola has retired before and returned to the fray in the past, but whichever spell of his rugby career you look at, he still makes the cut as one of the best, if not the best, outside centers to have played for Kobs.

Mudoola was an efficient midfield player whose pace and ball-handling skills were an object of envy.

Timothy Mudoola racing with the ball

14. Allan “Sokee” Musoke (Kobs)

Allan Musoke was the true definition of an open-side wing, a player whose primary role is to finish off moves and score tries. The flamboyant speedster was such a try-scoring machine for the Kobs that he still holds the national record for most tries (22) scored in a single season.

Allan Musoke

Worthy to mention is loyal Black Pirate Dennis Etuket who dazzled with his daredevil style of rugby. In his heydays, Etuket challenged renowned legends for speed and brute force without fear or favour.

15. Joseph Aredo (Kobs)

Aredo was not your typical rugby player, what he lacked in weight and size, he compensated for with sheer wit and skill. Aredo’s positional awareness and safe hands meant that Kobs had found the perfect pick for fullback, and he never disappointed. Aredo made tearing defenses down, which he did with a smile on his face, look easy.

Former Kobs player and Cranes star Joseph Aredo shined in the Christie Sevens Credit: © Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE

Notable mention goes to Simon Wakabi who was as lethal as they come. On any given day, Wakabi had the potential to penetrate a broken line of defense in open play.

Adrian Kasito, who started as scrumhalf at Kobs and evolved into the fullback position, also lays legitimate claim to a mention on this squad for his clinical defensive tackles and swiftness with ball in hand.

There are a number of other great players that have been integral parts of these two clubs, even from way before I learnt how to write my name. Great players from generations before the one I have been fortunate to witness, of whom great stories of skill and valour are still told today and whose memories will forever be in the minds of those lucky to have been there.

The debate on who deserves to be on the combined Best XV squad is never-ending, but who would you name on yours?

Ernest Akorebirungi is an amateur rugby player and a keen follower of local Ugandan rugby.

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