On 24th April, the Uganda Rugby Cranes Sevens team qualified for the 2022 World Cup Rugby Sevens to be played in South Africa later this year in September after winning the Rugby Africa Sevens in Kampala.
If it wasn’t the birthday celebrations that paralyzed the city on the opposite side of Kyadondo then there was no way the heavy downpour that came very early Sunday morning was going to stop Ugandans and fans from all over the continent from attending one of the biggest rugby events on the African calendar.
The two-day tournament was played in Kampala, Uganda at Kyadondo rugby grounds. This tournament attracted 14 African nations with neighbours coming into this tournament as the best-ranked sides and importantly, favourites to win the cup. Playing in front of over 5,000 fans, the Uganda Rugby Cranes Sevens side finished the tournament as winners but importantly, finishing the tournament having conceded only 3 tries.
Coming into the tournament, Philip Wokorach who plays his professional rugby in France was the star of the team and one the entire nation looked on to propel the Cranes into the World Cup. He carried those expectations scoring 10 tries but proved to be exceptional between the posts as he missed only a few.
Vice-captain Ian Munyani played a very vital role in startups and team possession. Aaron Ofoyrwoth and Adrian Kasito played like they had 6 engines the entire tournament doing a lot of game builds and breaking play. Desire Ayera and captain Micheal Wokorach had heavy carries that helped the team all through the tournament.
Uganda defeated Zimbabwe in the final 26-00 to finish off what was an exceptional tournament for the hosts.
For many of the fans who watched the game at Kyadondo, the win against arch-rivals Kenya was even sweeter than the finals win. The two neighbouring countries have a long history of rugby battles and Uganda picking up a win against Kenya in the semi finals tasted better to many of the fans who had spent two days eating the meat of all kinds at Kyadondo.
“That Semifinal display by the boys and the win at the end of the day against Kenya, that was sweeter than winning the finals for me,” Said Lulu an ardent supporter of the Rugby Cranes.
Captain Michael Wokorach thanked the players for putting everything on the line to ensure that Uganda qualified for the world cup and thanked the fans for turning up in numbers as well.
“This Uganda victory is the hard work of all the boys. It was an intense game but thanks to the boys for the determination and focus,” said Captain Michael.
“I also thank all the fans for their support and this great team will be in a position to carry the Uganda flag high at both the World cup and the Commonwealth games.” He added.
What does Qualifying for the Rugby World Cup Mean for Uganda?
This is just the second time that Uganda is qualifying for the Rugby Sevens World Cup having made their debut in San Francisco in 2018. The team finished 19th in that showing but with the way Coach Tolbert Onyango has set up the side, there is a growing belief that this is arguably the best 7s team ever lined up by the nation.
Having won the Africa Rugby 7s, Uganda also qualified for the Commonwealth games as two nations outside of Kenya were needed for the games. The win also means that Uganda automatically qualifies for the next edition of the Rugby Africa 7s. They are joined by teams like Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Madagascar and Tunisia who wrap up the top 6 sides.
Uganda hopes that these next tournaments will help them get better to get into the HSBC Rugby Sevens series.
Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is an avid Sports and Tech enthusiast. He loves to keep up to date with all the latest information and research on some of the most compelling stories.