Mary Gloria Ayot

Having experienced an aborted postponement, the Uganda women’s rugby union XV national league will kick off today as initially scheduled. A single match is set to be played from 1 p.m. at King’s Park Stadium between Black Pearls and the Mbale Eagles.

The two, in addition to Avengers, will be out to wrestle the national title from current holders and record winners Thunderbirds. The four teams will battle in a home-and-away championship from January 15 until March 5 with matches played in Kampala, Entebbe and Mbale.

Black Pearls cemented their place as the strongest women’s outfit in the shortcode Sevens and Tens competitions while Mbale Eagles were the surprise dark horses in their first test of top tier rugby. The players will battle each other in the aftermath of extended light showers around the Victoria basin this morning.

Umar Balikanda is the center referee assigned to officiate this season opener with Elijah Massa and Brian Batakwire as his assistants. Phiona Nakatete is the match commissar.

Whales Rugby Academy crosses codes to rugby league

At the end of the 2021 season, former Uganda Lady Rugby Cranes international Fortunate Irankunda revealed to Kawowo Sports that the national Sevens series would be her Whales Rugby Academy’s final Rugby Union tournament.

The Entebbe-based club, whose Blue Whales were Tier 2 champions in 2021’s Tens and Sevens Rugby Union tournaments, have already embarked on their journey in Rugby League, working with US-based Arnold Mananu who began his rugby career at Kyadondo.

Whales Rugby Academy is training in an age-grade system starting from tag with under-10 boys and girls up to contact with open-age men and women.

Irankunda says that the dream is for Uganda to make her first appearance at the Rugby League World Cup in the future.

Both codes, Rugby League and Union, are similar in a layman’s eye with the same ball being used on a similar playing field to achieve a similar objective. However, in Rugby League, teams have 13 players with up to 10 substitutes allowed in a single match (Rugby Union has 15 players with a maximum of 8 substitutes). The main difference is in the sequence of play where Rugby League has a limit on the number of tackles before the ball is turned over to the opposition.

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

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