Sarah Kirabo Credit: Don Mugabi

The rate at which Sarah Kirabo is climbing up the list of Uganda’s elite women’s rugby players is nothing short of spectacular.

She made her Fifteens (XVs) debut just two years ago during the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup 2021 at Kyadondo and has only played three tests for Uganda. However, due to the nature of her position as a lock, she hardly gets noticed. As expected of course. Locks silently and diligently do the dirty work in the engine room.

Sarah Kirabo carries the ball against Zambia during Rugby Africa Women’s Cup 2022 Credit: John Batanudde

Now, Kirabo is set to make her 7s debut during the Rugby Africa Women’s 7s 2023. She is one of three debutants on the squad heading to Tunisia for their first Africa 7s tournament next week. The other two are rising stars Grace Nabaggala and Maimuna Nassozi whose Uganda 7s debut was at the Safari 7s in 2021.

See the full squad

She was a late entrant – the last, actually – to Coach Charles Onen’s training squad. He summoned her after the Nile Special 7s Series 2023 where she clinched the women’s MVP award.

Soft-spoken off the pitch yet the very opposite on it, Kirabo is a ferocious ball carrier and a clean tackler. While she may be a tight-forward accustomed to heavy contact during XVs, she played mostly at the wing and center during the 7s series.

Sarah Kirabo

It goes without saying that she has had to adjust and adapt her playing style quickly to fit into the 7s national team.

“Sevens involves long passes and a lot of running which is not in Fifteens that has a lot of contact (in the forwards) before the ball goes out to the backs. But here (in 7s), all the players work and run together,” Kirabo said to Kawowo Sports during the open media training session last week.

view the gallery from the training session

Nonetheless, Onen was impressed with her effort in training and how much she has improved since joining the camp.

“She joined the camp quite late but it’s because of her input in the Sevens. So, with the level that we found her after the Sevens, she is not doing so badly. However, there are a couple of things she missed during the start of the campaign but she’s picking up well and she’s putting in the shift. We are impressed with the performance so far that she is putting on the table,” Onen said to Kawowo Sports.

When asked whether she believes she will replicate her local MVP-worthy performance on the international scene, Kirabo was full of positivity.

“Yes, because I coordinate well with my teammates and they’re also friendly. So if I’m given that opportunity I will be able to deliver,” Kirabo said.

Kirabo will test the exciting territories of international 7s rugby when the action kicks off on October 14 at Stade Mustapha Ben Jannet in Monastir, Tunisia. Maybe then, her name can join the prestigious list of Lekuru, Najjuma, and Auma among many others before them who have played for Uganda.

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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