Credit: John Batanudde

Those who have watched Ugandan rugby from days earlier will say that the men’s premier league was always, and largely still is, a duopoly between Heathens and Kobs with an occasional club summoning enough strength to upset them. Impis did it in 1996 and it took twenty-two years before Black Pirates could achieve the same feat.

Since 2018, Black Pirates have attempted to break this dominance in vain but they have steadily turned the thirty-three-year-old championship into a three-horse race. The Sea Robbers have finished third since then behind Heathens and Kobs who have each gone undefeated to win the title.

This Saturday, Black Pirates host Heathens at King’s Park, Bweyogerere in a top-of-the-table clash that will kick off at 4 p.m. EAT. Heathens are still undefeated while the former’s only defeat was at the latter’s hands in the first round at Kyadondo.

Cyrus Wathum bumps off Moses Olweny Credit: John Batanudde

A win for the visitors will mean they can start printing shirts for a record sixteenth title while a win for the hosts will keep them in the title fight and hope that the mathematics is in their favour at the end of the season.

So, how will that all-important win be achieved, keeping in mind that Kobs are ready to leapfrog them both to the summit?

For a season double against their hosts, Heathens need to replicate the first round’s dominance in the contact zone. The Kyadondo outfit have developed even better team chemistry with their signings so I expect them to double down on their physicality which blew the Black Pirates away in the second half.

But the hosts welcome back rowers Kelvin Balagadde and Alex Aturinda, who were away on national duty with the Sevens, back to the squad which will put more able bodies on the line for this anticipated physical challenge.

Pirates’ strength, as always, lies in the backline if the forwards can set a platform for them to play in the right territories. Pirates have more options off the boot and under the high ball so I anticipate a back-and-forth kicking game from them to get in those territories.

However, if Joseph Oyet can play with the hand brake off the way he did during his man of the match performance in the first round, Heathens have a potential threat from the backfield. Additionally, Chris Lubanga at flyhalf has been on a wonderful run of form this season that Heathens’ backline is nearly on the same wavelength as the pack.

Multiple sources have revealed to Kawowo Sports that this high-billed match will be managed by an official from the Kenya Rugby Union on request weeks ago from the Uganda Rugby Union, which has cleared concerns of bias that usually plague such fixtures in Uganda. Emmanuel Marete will be assisted by Saudah Adiru and Ronald Wutimber with URU’s Robert Bwali as the Match Commissar.

Matchday 15 Fixtures (all 4 p.m. kickoff time):

  • King’s Park, Bweyogerere: Black Pirates vs Heathens
  • Legends Rugby Grounds: Rhinos vs Kobs
  • Busambaga, Entebbe: Mongers vs Impis
  • Kyadondo Rugby Club: Buffaloes vs Warriors
  • DamWaters Rugby Club: Jinja Hippos vs Rams

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

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