Ronald Kanyanya Credit: John Batanudde

The final 28-man squad for Uganda Rugby Cranes XVs national team’s campaign at the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 has been named this morning with just over a fortnight left until the tournament kicks off in the south of France.

Head coach Fred Mudoola has revealed that there was no easy part in selecting the squad, a process which was highlighted by long meetings and a trial match against a select Barbarians side comprising mainly the U20 youngsters.

“To be honest, there were no easy parts in making (the) selection; maybe the easy one was three players because they were chosen as captain and vice-captains. The rest was very difficult. Players put up their hand and trained hard, and they were committed,” Mudoola said.

The halfback pairing of Ivan Magomu and Paul Epillo maintain their roles as captain and vice-captain respectively, with lock Charles Uhuru complementing the leadership team as vice-captain.

“Of course in the end, we had to choose twenty-eight. This took over a week and long meetings, so it was not easy,” he concluded.

With France-based back Philip Wokorach on the roster as well, only twenty-four slots remained for the training squad of over thirty-five players. And there were always going to be some unlucky players failing to make the cut.

Aziz Khan (yellow) with ball in hand Credit: John Batanudde

The biggest shocking ommission of all is the Heathens back-row duo of Aziz Khan and Reynolds Kato. Sadly, for the latter, an unfortunate injury in training ruled him out of contention. The pair were, without a shadow of doubt, the best and most consistent flankers in the just-concluded premier league season in which their team went unbeaten to be crowned champions.

Uganda’s Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifying campaign will begin with a quarterfinal tie against neighbours Kenya on July 2nd at the Stade Maurice-David in Aix-en-Provence. It will be a mammoth task against a Kenya Simbas squad who have played nine competitive matches in South Africa’s provincial tournament, the Currie Cup.

“We want to play well. We want to do our absolute best, one hundred and fifty percent commitment in every game,” Mudoola revealed.

The squad enters residential camp today until Saturday at the FUFA Technical Centre in Njeru where they will play their last trial match behind closed doors. Departure for France will be on Tuesday, June 28.

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

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