Isaac Rujumba Credit: John Batanudde

Two days ago, Uganda Rugby Union published five disciplinary statements following judicial hearings held on February 27, 2023. Four were sanctioning players for dangerous tackles that went unpunished during respective matches while one was for matters off the pitch.

The latter, concerning Jinja Hippos player Isaac Rujumba, has caused a stir in Ugandan rugby leading up to this weekend’s matches. Rujumba has been handed a one year suspended sentence for “putting the sport of rugby into disrepute following numerous tweets.”

In the said tweets posted on his personal Twitter on February 10, 2022, Rujumba calls URU out for not paying Jinja Hippos their prize money after winning the 2021 national sevens series back in October. He then goes on to make wild allegations of how URU officials have amassed riches from “our (the players’) sweat on and off the pitch.”

It is those allegations that earned him a call to the URU judicial hearing. Rujumba pleaded guilty to the charges and now has a one-year ban from rugby hanging above his head.

He is required to retract his tweets within a week and apologise to all the stakeholders affected therein. He will also undertake a Level One Referee Training course at the next available opportunity and run touch judge duties during the ongoing schools league.

Rujumba’s history of public spats with URU

Two years ago, Rujumba published blogs in which he told, with touching detail and evidence, his painful experience of playing rugby in Uganda. This was after he was silently expelled from the Rugby Cranes training camp for breaking COVID-19 bubble protocols during the 2021 Rugby Africa Cup.

URU, as is known to during such controversial times, maintained silence and weathered the storm which lasted for weeks.

This was Rujumba’s major public outcry but the outspoken player has occasionally highlighted unfair treatment of rugby players, poor remuneration, and favouritism in call-ups to the national team. Some of these have been honest appeals for a change but others simply rants aimed at playing to the gallery.

Although Rujumba is now URU’s number one villain, he risks carrying the tag of the boy who cried wolf. Perhaps, this could deter him, and other players with similar ideas, from disregarding procedure and systems already in place to address their concerns.

Despite being named by the Sports Ministry as one of Uganda’s top performing sports federations, URU and its officials have relentlessly been accused, by different individuals, of incompetence, abuse of office, and poor communication.

URU not only needs to clean up its image but needs to be seen to be doing so. Otherwise, the sentence handed down to Rujumba will be seen as an attempt to gag and subdue.

Other sanctioned players:

Jinja Hippos duo of Emmanuel Wakabi and David Wako each received one-match suspensions for dangerous tackles during their home match against Heathens on February 11, 2023. A citation from the same match for a similar offence has earned Heathens lock Akera Komakech an identical suspension.

Wakabi and Wako will not be available for selection in this weekend’s home match against Rams while Komakech will miss the juicy Walukuba tie at Kyadondo.

Toyota Buffaloes looseforward Douglas Musoke also received a one-match suspension for a dangerous tackle during his team Toyota Buffaloes’ visit to Hippos on February 18. He will miss Buffaloes match against Mongers.

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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