Isaac Massanganzira Credit: Hamala Edgar
  • Nile Special Rugby Premier League – Round 13
  • 4 p.m. EAT: Stanbic Black Pirates vs Jinja Hippos
  • Kings Park Arena

Coach Marvin Odongo and Director of Rugby Robert Musinguzi, his right hand man, have explored all options available to find the perfect midfield pair at Stanbic Black Pirates for about three years now. Since Isaac “Massa” Massanganzira’s recurring absence on national duty, Eric “Mula” Mulamula’s departure back home in Tanzania, and injuries to Haruna Mohammed and James Mugisha.

During that period, among a wide range of options, halfbacks Ivan Magomu and William Nkore have been deployed at inside center, and Pius Ojeabulu, Jeremiah Josenu and Jones Kamiza have been promoted from Sailors as potential long-term solutions.

Some combinations have worked and lasted while others, not so much. But in 2023, it appears to have finally clicked.

In twelve matches so far this season, Pirates have fielded six different midfield combinations. They began with Nkore-Odongo for seven successive matches, apart from two when youngster Josenu jumped in. Then Josenu-Kamiza for away trips to Walukuba and Rams in rounds nine and ten respectively.

MatchFirst Center #12Second Center #13
1Heathens (H)William NkoreTimothy Odongo
2Rhinos (A)William NkoreTimothy Odongo
3Hippos (A)William NkoreJeremiah Josenu
4Buffaloes (H)William NkoreTimothy Odongo
5Mongers (A)William NkoreTimothy Odongo
6Rams (H)Jeremiah JosenuTimothy Odongo
7Kobs (H)William NkoreTimothy Odongo
8Impis (H)Jeremiah JosenuTimothy Odongo
9Walukuba (A)Jeremiah JosenuJones Kamiza
10Rams (A)Jeremiah JosenuJones Kamiza
11Buffaloes (A)Isaac MassaJones Kamiza
12Impis (A)Eric MulaIsaac Massa
13Hippos (H)Eric MulaIsaac Massa

And now, Mula-Massa in a combination that reminds fans of the 2018/19 season. Mula is back in the country while Massa has recovered from a knee injury sustained during Kyabazinga Sevens last year. The two first played together for Sailors against Intangas five weeks ago in the Central Region Reserve League. Massa scored a brace that afternoon at Kings Park as Sailors won by 38-09.

For Pirates, the midfield pair now looks both mature and, perhaps more importantly, stable. Mula is a ball carrier while Massa is a distributor. Both are also good defenders.

Jinja Hippos at home this weekend is a timely test of the qualities within this pair before the Easter break and the final run to the end of the season.

Tawfik Bagalana has been arguably the best outside center in the country for some time now. His inside center, Owen Mugogo, while still largely inexperienced has enjoyed game time with him. The two have started six successive matches in coach Saidi Atibu’s midfield.

Other Round 13 Matches:

The headline fixture this weekend is Heathens vs Kobs at Kyadondo. A win could catapult Heathens to the top of the table and a loss for either could see them drop to third below Pirates.

At the bottom of the table, winless Rams visit Rhinos in a desperate search for redemption.

  • 3 p.m.: Platinum Credit Heathens vs Kobs at Kyadondo Rugby Club
  • 4 p.m.: Rhinos vs Rams at Legends Rugby Club
  • 4 p.m.: Stanbic Black Pirates vs Jinja Hippos at Kings Park
  • 4 p.m.: Impis vs Plascon Mongers at The Graveyard, Makerere
  • 4 p.m.: Walukuba Barbarians vs Toyota Buffaloes at Abel Dhaira Stadium

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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