Desire Ayera

Following an online meeting held last week on Thursday, May 28, Rugby Africa has resolved to cancel the 2020 international season.

This was in view of the current situation and in consultation with member federations including Uganda, where due to the corona virus pandemic, rugby and other sporting activities, were put on hold until further notice by a presidential directive.

Noting that Rugby Africa’s top priority remains the health and safety of the athletes, supporters, staff, partners and local communities, Dr. Elvis Tano, who heads the confederation’s medical commission, said; “Too much uncertainty still hangs over the development of the pandemic in the coming weeks for us (Rugby Africa) to be able to calmly resume competitions.”

This decision was motivated by among other factors, current restrictions and bans on travel, public gatherings and sporting events across the continent and variations in lifting these restrictions during the post COVID-19 periods.

The cancellation of the international season has affected all competitions scheduled for this year. These include the U20 Barthes Trophy (initially scheduled for April 18), Rugby Africa Cup for both men and women (initially scheduled for May 30), Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens (scheduled for October 31) and others whose dates were yet to be confirmed.

Andrew Owor, former Uganda Rugby Union president and current Vice President of Rugby Africa, is however hopeful that Rugby Africa will be able to organise a few matches by the end of the year but notes that due to the size and diversity of Africa, a more localised approach will be useful.

Rugby Africa has reaffirmed its willingness to support cross-border matches or sub-regional tournaments organized on the initiative of the federations when this is possible in 2020.

With such competitions like the annual Elgon Cup hanging in balance, this means that the Uganda Rugby Cranes and Lady Rugby Cranes will have to wait longer to play their first international test match of the year.

On the other hand, the national men’s sevens had competed in the inaugural World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series in South America. They were yet to kick off preparations for the Olympic Repechage and the Hong Kong Sevens.

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

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