Emmanuel Echodu Credit: John Batanudde

Kobs Rugby Club and Stanbic Black Pirates Rugby Club will play for the Nile Special Rugby Premier League title in the 2023 season finale this weekend.

The two are tied on points (75) but Kobs sit on top of the table with a superior points difference over Pirates. Pirates have lost one match this season – at home to Kobs in the first round – while Kobs suffered controversial home and away defeats to Heathens.

Win, lose, or draw at Legends on Saturday evening, if holders Heathens finish their season on a high with a bonus point against Rams, one of Kobs or Pirates will finish the season in third place.

But how much better or worse have Kobs and Pirates been this season compared to 2022?

Keeping the Scoreboard Ticking

When it comes to scoring tries, Kobs have improved both as a team and as individuals within the team. At least on the score sheets. So far, they have scored sixteen more tries than in 2022 and with two more scorers on the charts.

On the other hand, Pirates appear to have taken their foot off the gas. Not only have they scored twenty-two fewer tries this season but the tries have been scored by five fewer players.

However, both teams have fewer individual try scorers (1) in double figures; Pius Ogena, who is chasing a league record, and Sydney Gongodyo. Both have blown the field away with the number eight behind their jerseys.

Karim Arinaitwe and Arnold Atukunda – who have both not played regularly due to national duty with sevens and/or injury – are not far behind. They each need one more try to count their tenth try.

Overall, Kobs have been the more lethal attacking team. They have scored over 100 more points while Pirates are short by nearly 150 points this season. But both have collected fewer bonus points (-1 net for Kobs and -2 net for Pirates) than in 2022.

Defensively, both still rank below Heathens in points conceded with Pirates just holding onto second place. They have both conceded more points this season than in 2022, although Kobs have realised a net positive points difference.

Yellow Card Count

The low-hanging fruit to measure both teams’ discipline is how many cards (yellow and red) they have been shown.

Kobs and Pirates have been found guilty of major infringements more times this season than in 2022. Pirates have nearly doubled their yellow card count, including three that were received last weekend against Walukuba. Rather shockingly, for both teams, the repeat offenders include both captains Emmanuel Ecodu and Ivan Magomu.


More data sets (like ball-in-play time, possession and phases, time in the lead or chasing, attack efficiency, kicking accuracy, visits to 22, lineout/scrum statistics, penalty count, handling errors, squad depth and spread of playing time, and others) would have provided a clearer picture of both teams’ performance) but the challenges in consistent and accurate collection still persist.

Anyways, from the surface, as indicated above, it is not difficult to deduce that Kobs have been a better side than Pirates this year. Which means, also better than the rest of the league.

Rugby has been played in a round-robin format all season but matchday eighteen will feel like a playoff final for Kobs and Pirates. If Kobs wins, the statistics will make sense but it will all be rubbish if Pirates beats them.

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...

Leave a comment

Please let us know what you think