The Uganda national rugby sevens team were looking to better their 2022 record which saw them win the Africa Mens 7s title on home turf. This time however they were away from home though with familiar opposition.
Uganda Cranes Rugby 7s team falters
For starters, Cranes Rugby 7s side bolted past Brazil (35-5), and Jamaica (36-10), making an open spectacle of South Korea (40-0) before eating humble pie at the hands of Germany 26-14 in the quarters of the just concluded week-long World Challenger Rugby Seven Series at the Markotter Stadium in Stellenbosch, South Africa. They bounced back against Chile (12-7) and narrowly edged Italy (19-15) to finish in fifth place out of 12.
Going to battle without the experience of their captain Michael Wokorach made the stage evermore daunting. In a single tongue-in-cheek tweet, the former captain was quick to quash the retirement rumors which were gathering dust:
Please disregard the rumors that I am retiring from international rugby. I am still part of the Uganda Sevens and only retired from captaincy of the team.
A luo man doesn’t retire on social media.
Thank you all for continuously supporting the Uganda Sevens.
Happy New Month!
— Wokorach Micheal (@Michealrach) May 3, 2023
Short of the inspirational leadership of Michael Wokorach, it fell to assistant captain Ian Munyani which won’t be the first time. He captained the national team at the 2019 Safari Sevens series but was unable to lead his team beyond a fifth-place finish.
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Elsewhere, Uganda was no match for the hosts, the Kenya A 44-20 defeat was enough to pour water on the East African rivalry. Their losing streak continued ( 21-13 ) against Zambia in the next fixture, a placement semifinal. That score condemned the Junior Uganda Cranes to a seventh-place berth playoff match which they narrowly won.
It would appear that Junior Cranes were indeed like their moniker. A side learning the ropes around this tourney when they fell behind 12-5 at halftime of the playoff.
After drinks, the Junior Rugby Cranes side returned rejuvenated and it showed. A Rodney Mugume try and a Matthew Musasizi penalty gave Uganda a lifeline and were the difference between relegation and survival.
That result all but confirmed fourth-placed side Madagascar’s relegation from the tourney.
In the other fixture, Zimbabwe made light work of their opponents Chipu, Kenya in the final ( 28-7 ). The visitors always seemed miles ahead keeping a safe distance between a comfortable win and a close tie as many had hoped. Team Chipu dug deep when team captain, Laban Kipsang’ converted a try reducing the margin to half ( 14-7 ) before half time.
Later, Zimbabwe replied with a counter which broke the Chipu resistance restoring the 14-point lead and before long it was reading ( 28-7 ) with under 10 minutes of the final to play. The defending champions did not concede a single try en route to this final and had their defense breached twice. Previous scores included a ( 55-0 ) routing against Ivory Coast, and a ( 60-6 ) triumph against Tunisia which booked their final place.
The result means Zimbabwe and Kenya will represent Africa at the Junior World trophy in July.
Main Photo Credit: Uganda Rugby