Timothy Mugisha Credit: John Batanudde

Despite following a somewhat unfamiliar script from what the Ugandan rugby folks are accustomed to, the ongoing 2022 Nile Special Sevens Series has strong similarities with the series from past seasons, especially2021’s.

For example, last year, the series was decided in the final match of the final circuit during the Coronation Sevens at Legends Rugby Grounds. Despite losing that final to archrivals Stanbic Black Pirates, Kobs, who had already done enough after pummelling Plascon Mongers by fifty points in the semifinal, assumed the top step to pop the champagne.

It is the same story this year. Two protagonists are still neck-and-neck for the title going into the final circuit of the series. Only difference this time is that there will be new heavyweights – Jinja Hippos and Heathens – in the ring during that Buffaloes Sevens circuit at Kyadondo Rugby Club. The two were fourth and third respectively last year behind the above-mentioned Kobs and Pirates now in third and fourth positions respectively.

I’m privileged to say that, in addition to being pitchside during all the circuits in these past two seasons, I’ve had access to some statistics that can help to compare and provide solutions to this question.

So, one asks themselves the question, what does it take to get into the position to win the Uganda national men’s sevens series?

Statistics Analysis – Attack

Last season, Kobs won the series by scoring a total of 167 tries (64.1% conversion success), one more than the Pirates (49.1% conversion success). Both averaged at least twenty-seven tries during each of the six circuits that were played from August to November.

This season, Jinja Hippos and Heathens have scored 105 tries (43.8% conversion success) and 113 (60.2% conversion success) from six circuits so far played so far.

The six-circuits benchmark shows us that, unsurprisingly, to be honest, last season’s bar was too high for this season’s best, and the entire series, to hit.

However, in averaging at least seventeen tries per circuit, Hippos have been the most consistent of them all.

Each of the four teams in this discussion prides itself on having the best finishers in the country. Last season, Kobs had eight players scoring more than ten tries while Pirates had nine players.

So far this season, only four of Hippos and Heathens’ finishers have hit double figures for tries scored. Timothy Mugisha (27 tries) leads the try-scoring charts and will need nine tries at Kyadondo to equal Adrian Kasito’s tally from last season.

The 2022 series try-scoring tally shows that the winning team at the end of the circuit has scored at least twenty tries, apart from Heathens – one short at nineteen – in Entebbe. That is, Pirates (20) in Wakiso, Heathens (23) in Arua, Kobs (21) at King’s Park, Kobs (24) in Tooro, and Hippos (22) in Bugembe. But, it is important to note that the winning team has not scored the most tries at King’s Park (22 for Hippos) and Bugembe (29 for Heathens).

Nonetheless, that winning team has either had one man carry them over the whitewash – like Pirates’ Arnold Atukunda (9) in Wakiso and Hippos’ Mugisha (8) in Bugembe – or distributed the tries between two or three players – like Heathens’ Lawrence Ssebuliba (8) and Malcolm Okello (6) in Arua or Kobs’ Karim Arinaitwe (8) with Mark Osuna, Joseph Aredo and Ian Munyani (5) in Bugembe.

EDITOR’S NOTE: There isn’t sufficient data from both series (2021 and 2022) to complete a defence analysis.

Now, that Hippos and Heathens know the line they need to cross to stay in contention for the 2022 Nile Special Sevens Series, where will they each need to be with respect to the other?

Denis Etwau for Jinja Hippos during Rujumba Sevens | Credit: John Batanudde

There is quite a lot of mathematics that will be at play during the Buffaloes Sevens but here’s a summary.

To be crowned champions and end the six-year Kobs-Pirates duopoly, Jinja Hippos must finish above Heathens. Simple! Or just in third place regardless of where Heathens finish. It’s easier said than done but the ball is in their hands at this point!

On the other hand, Heathens, by their own efforts or with help from other teams, need to ensure that Jinja Hippos do not come anywhere near that bronze medal. The series will go to the calculator should Heathens win and Hippos are fourth.

Total Series PointsPoints Scored (PF)Points Conceded (PA)Points Difference (PD)
1Jinja Hippos109617251366
Nile Special Rugby Sevens Series 2022 – Standings After Round Six

But from this table, it is clear to see that Heathens have had both the most-potent attack and the tightest defence, and thus, the upper hand, mathematically, in the series.

The 2022 Nile Special Sevens Series will climax on October 15-16 during the Buffaloes Sevens at Kyadondo Rugby Club.

Ernest Akorebirungi joined Kawowo Sports in July 2019 after one year as a student volunteer at the Makerere University Games Union. In his role as rugby correspondent, he offers unique insight and analysis...

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