- Saturday, February 14, 2020:
- Impis RFC v Rams RUFC (4:30 pm) at The Graveyard, Makerere
In Ugandan rugby, there are two kinds of rivalries; historic teams fighting for more silverware in their trophy-laden cabinets and teams that share a home ground battling for bragging rights (you may call this a derby).
In the days leading up to such matches, players, and fans alike, from either side do not see eye-to-eye and one can smell the hostilities in the air when around them. The matches are even more fierce and heated as the teams literally throw everything but the kitchen sink at each other to get the win over their opponents.
The derbies do not get more personal than Impis versus Rams, which was known as The Makerere Derby before the latter was kicked out from the university rugby grounds – The Graveyard by the institution’s Games & Recreation Department early this year.
And this is what makes this particular fixture much more anticipated than the battle of the bastards in the popular TV series Game Of Thrones.
This is Impis’ first season since their immediate promotion from the Central League Championship. The first meeting between the two was played at Kyadondo Rugby Grounds (Rams’ temporary home ground) in the last matchday of the first round. Makerere Impis snatched a 17-10 victory on the day leaving Rams players in tears.
This was Impis’ first win of the season, and it saw them get off the bottom of the log at the expense of Rhinos.
This weekend, as Rams return to The Graveyard for the first time since they were shown the exit ahead of Matchday 7, the R in their name stands for “revenge”.
Before then, Rams had been on a fairytale run in the league. They had back-to-back wins, one against Rhinos and a first-ever win against Black Pirates, and had collected 3 losing bonus points. Since then, they have lost all their matches and have only 2 losing bonus points to show for their time & effort.
It’s clear to see that Rams’ momentum was destabilized by the boardroom scuffles that ended up in them being homeless.
Impis know what’s coming their way, and they’re certainly ready to prove that they are the biggest team in Makerere.
Impis’ Achilles heel continues to be their no-show in the second half. They surrendered the lead, and lost 15-05, to Jinja Hippos at the Dam Waters and the following weekend, they fell from 27-00 at half time to 67-07 against Kobs at Legends.
Their last match was a 15-10 loss against Buffaloes at Kyadondo in a similar fashion.
Rams have not scored a try in their last two matches against Heathens & Black Pirates but in all fairness, they can not be judged on their performance against the two top brass teams.
They were quite impressive in their 22-17 loss against Mongers at Kyadondo, executing their set plays and defending well maintaining good discipline.
This fixture is not just a platform for both teams to officially settle their personal grievances with each other.
Barring any unprecedented upsets, Rams are one victory out of the relegation battle. If they win this derby, they will have collected just enough points to at least guarantee their survival.
If the victory goes to Impis, they will have not only pulled Rams back into the relegation battle but also, they will have changed the dynamic of their hide and seek games with Rhinos at the bottom of the log of the Nile Special Stout Rugby Premier League.