Emma Ochan scores a try Credit: Uganda Rugby Union/TW

It was a rude welcome for Uganda back to competitive rugby in the Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy as defending champions Kenya put them to the sword at Nyayo National Stadium.

Kenya Chipu, as they are popularly known, won the quarterfinal match, 54-20, to progress to the main cup semifinal and dump Uganda to the placement matches.

Head coach Richard Lumu, in the days leading up to Saturday, had described it as a ‘David and Goliath’ match with his charges playing in their first competitive match since 2018 against two-time defending champions in their own backyard.

And in the first half, it looked like David had a smooth stone in his sling. Cornelius Mukoro kicked the first points of the match for Chipu but Uganda’s Emma Ochan scored the first try of the match pouncing on a loose ball in the red zone to lead 05-03.

Captain Malcolm Daniel Okello, whose kicking on the day was exceptional with 66.7% accuracy for 6 attempts, converted easily.

The two kickers, Mukoro and Okello, would then go on to trade points for the first half to end 11-10 in favour of the hosts. The visitors matched the hosts in the physical battles but were let off the hook due to the latter’s poor decision-making as they knocked at the door repeatedly.

Michael Kalyango Credit: Uganda Rugby Union/TW

However, there were no more shots in David’s sling in the second half as Goliath exerted his superiority.

The Chipu played a much faster game which created overlaps on the wings for Kenya to run in 43 points in the second half. Uganda didn’t get many opportunities to play the ball in their preferred territories but will be happy about their efficiency in attack.

Ten points in the second half, all by the captain Okello leading from the front, from two visits to the Kenya 22 metre territory were all they could get.

Full Quarterfinal Results:

  • QF 1: Namibia 62-00 Cote d’Ivoire
  • QF 2: Tunisia 18-19 Zimbabwe
  • QF 3: Madagascar 26-14 Zambia
  • QF 4: Kenya 54-20 Uganda

Thus, Kenya advance to the main cup semifinal where they will face Namibia while Uganda will take on Cote d’Ivoire in the placement playoffs.

These ties will be played on the second matchday of the tournament on Wednesday, April 13 at the same venue.

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

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