Ronald Kanyanya Credit: John Batanudde

Under normal circumstances, around this time of the year, players, fans would be on a countrywide tour from Kampala eastwards to as far as Mbale, westwards as far as Kabale and northwards to Gulu for the national sevens series.

But due to the nature of the current times with the coronavirus and restrictions on sport imposed by the government, rugby grounds are locked and inter-district travelling is limited to half the capacity of means of transport.

The last national sevens title was won by Kobs Rugby Club at the Kitaka Sevens in 2019 – the final round that year – after a series-long neck and neck battle with archrivals Black Pirates. And the wait for the next Sevens champion continues for the second year now.

However, the future will not remain as bleak as it currently is. After organising a successful Rugby Africa Cup 2021 tournament behind closed doors, Uganda Rugby Union is back on the drawing board to plan for the next activity on the calendar.

Local Rugby

URU trainer and administrator Robert Bwali said to Kawowo Sports that the local calendar is developed with knowledge of the international window and anticipated international engagements.

“We know when the international window usually comes (between May-August) and also, there are international tournaments we know are coming. So we plan our local calendar accordingly,” Bwali said.

He added that since there has not been competitive local sevens in over a year and that both the Uganda Cup and the league are played in the fifteens team, his technical team have opted to drop the Uganda Cup for 2021 in order to have a full league season.

“We have not played Sevens since 2019 so there is a high need to get our players back in action across the country. We also want to have the league played fully this season, and since it is the same format as the Uganda Cup, we believe it is a good decision to cancel the Cup and play the league from about November. But all these decisions will be confirmed by the Executive Committee,” he noted.

Therefore, as it stands pending official communication from Uganda Rugby Union, the next activity on the local calendar is going to be the national sevens series. The details of which, like how many circuits, dates and venues, competition format – single day or two day circuits – and participating teams will be confirmed.

International Rugby

The men’s and women’s fifteens national teams, Uganda Rugby Cranes and Uganda Lady Rugby Cranes respectively, returned to action for the first time since 2019 in the Rugby Africa Cup 2021 where they played host to three other nations. Rugby Cranes qualified top of Pool C in the tournament while Lady Rugby Cranes dispatched Zimbabwe in two test matches.

Sarah Kirabo Credit: John Batanudde

This will be their final piece of the action this year since the remaining duration is outside the Rugby Africa international window.

However, in the Sevens variation of the game, the men’s team have been invited for two rounds of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai, UAE and Cape Town, South Africa. The Dubai round will be held from December 2-4, 2021 and that in Cape Town on the following weekend from December 10-12.

There is no international engagement lined up for the women’s team this year.

Looking further forward into 2022

2022 promises to be a highly competitive year for both the Sevens and Fifteens national teams. There will be the qualifier tournaments for the Commonwealth Games, Rugby World Cup Sevens and the Rugby World Cup spread from around February to November.

But like has been this year, fingers remain crossed not only for Uganda but for the continent and world to have these tournaments played without hiccup.

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

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