In October 2014, when he won his Most Valuable Player award at the URU Awards gala, Oscar Kalyango said that if he didn’t win the award the next year, he would be one of the nominees.
Unfortunately, Kalyango never lived to realise that dream as the awards would not return until eight laters later in 2022. Kalyango has since retired due to a recurring injury that cut his colourful career short.
There’s a certain feeling of excitement mixed with nostalgia now that URU has revived the Awards ceremony after close to a decade’s hiatus.
URU President Godwin Kayangwe feels the same way about the awards last held when he was still only an Executive Committee member in charge of sponsorship and marketing.
“It goes without saying. URU is very excited to bring back the awards that had eluded us for a long time. And I hope the whole fraternity as well is excited to do it because that is the time we have to reward excellence of different individuals; players and people in other different categories that (have) contribute(d) to the success rugby might have,” Kayangwe said to Kawowo Sports on Friday afternoon.
Thirty-nine individuals have been nominated for ten awards that will be won at a black-tie dinner on Friday night at the Kampala Serena Hotel.
These include the Most Valuable Players (men and women), Coaches of the Year (domestic and international), and Journalists of the Year (Print and Television).
Uganda Men’s Sevens halfback pair Adrian Kasito and Aaron Ofoyrwoth are in line for the men’s MVP award while Lady Rugby Cranes captain Peace Lekuru and most-capped player Charlotte Mudoola are gunning for the women’s.
The other awards include the Golden Boot, Top Try Scorer, Team of The Year, Fair Play Team Award, and three URU President’s Awards.
Along with each of these awards, there will be a cash token for the recipient, Kayangwe revealed to Kawowo Sports.
However, as for any awards, there are omissions that have caught the rugby fraternity by surprise.
From inspiring Heathens to an unbeaten sixteenth premier league title to leading Rugby Cranes’ failed World Cup campaign in France, Joachim Chisano was arguably the best XVs rugby player in and for Uganda in 2022. But unfortunately, he did not make the final cut for nomination as Most Valuable Player for the year, or any other award.
Neither did Philip Wokorach who topped the charts at the Africa Sevens and Commonwealth Games nor Suzan Adong who was among Black Pearls’ top performers in a flawless campaign.
The above-mentioned, and others including members from the association of front-row forwards, are nowhere near the nominations list for this year’s awards.
Kayangwe explained that there was a select technical team who followed strict criteria to determine the nominations and winners for this year’s URU Awards.
“People need to understand the criteria. They need to know that nominations are not done by emotions, they are done technically. We have a technical team that proposes names and a separate technical panel that confirms who the winner is, and finally, it also goes to ExCom for approval. So there’s a process and any kind of nomination can be explained by that process. Sometimes it might knock out someone that is a darling for the fans emotionally but there is a criterion that they follow,” he said.
Perhaps, the awards could have been organised in more diverse categories. But away from the should-have-beens and what-nots, URU can be applauded for making the bold step back to the old golden days.