Before flying to Birmingham for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Uganda Men’s Sevens head coach Tolbert Onyango revealed that he had set a target of progressing to the quarterfinals for the first time in the country’s history at the Games. This would be good preparation for the all-important World Rugby Challenger Series, he said.

While the African champions were unable to make it out of the tough Pool D – Australia and Kenya finished ahead of them, Onyango and his charges will be more than proud of what they have achieved at the Coventry Stadium this weekend.

This year’s Games were played in a new format over three days that included placement games for teams outside the medal competition. And that’s where Uganda showcased what they could bring to the World Series, if they qualify.

A 38-19 victory over Sri Lanka in the 9th place quarterfinal was followed by another over Tonga in the semifinal, 27-07 the final score.

It was a fairytale run of form that excited the fans in the stands, back at home, and across the world.

But it was ruthlessly ended by England in the final on Sunday night. Jamie Adamson’s hat trick of tries inspired the home team to a 31-17 victory over the East Africans.

Two points separated the two teams in the first half at 07-05 but England touched down four times to seal their victory.

Uganda did some damage control with two minutes left on the clock when Timothy Kisiga and Karim Arinaitwe pulled them into the double figures.

In the end, England were too good for Uganda.

Injury scare

For the first time this year, Onyango made changes to his starting lineup. These were forced by injury scares to Desire Ayera and Adrian Kasito from the physically-gruelling encounter with Tonga.

Fingers remain crossed for them to recover in time before the flight to Chile for the Challenger Series. In the meantime, non-travelling reserves Levis Ocen and Lawrence Ssebuliba can start preparing themselves for the call to action.

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

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