Coach Tolbert Onyango has been the architect of the success of the national sevens squad. Credit: AISHA NAKATO / Kawowo Sports

On June 30, 2020, World Rugby cancelled the remaining rounds of both the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and Challenger Series 2020 due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to Kawowo Sports on Friday, July 3, 2020, Uganda Men’s Sevens head coach Tolbert Onyango has expressed his disappointment with the decision saying this was the year he had earmarked as a development year for his squad.

We are a bit disappointed, but nothing to do. Looking at the situation globally, we understand why the decision had to be made.

This year was going to be for squad development and setting up for next year.

Tolbert Onyango, head coach Uganda Men’s Sevens.

Onyango revealed that he planned to give more game time to his squad but with three or four tournaments cancelled, it will be tough picking up again next year.

Uganda was competing strongly in the inaugural HSBC World Rugby Challenger Series where they finished in seventh place out of sixteen after the two rounds in South America. They were looking forward to challenging seven others for a place as a core side in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2021.

Pius Ogena with ball in hand v Italy. Credit: Kawowo Sports | MATIAS MATUS ACEBO

Also cancelled were the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Repechage and the Rugby Africa Men’s Sevens. His squad will also certainly miss out on the local national sevens clubs series which is their, and many others intending to join, platform to impress and catch his eye.

On plans of moving forward, Onyango admits that there is not much that can be done but wait for the government to give sports the green light to return to play.

We have to wait for the government and follow the guidelines set for us to return to training or any activity. Plans cannot be made concrete at the moment because of the need for alignment with other countries.

But we press the reset button and be ready to go again.

Tolbert Onyango.

World Rugby published guidelines for the safe return to rugby activities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic to assist member unions and competitions in devising their own framework compliant with respective national social-distancing and travel environment.

For Uganda, the wait to return of sports has clocked more than 100 days and it continues in earnest.

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

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