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JINJA: Coaches, fans upbeat about the growth of rugby

Babarians, Hippos face off last Saturday. Photo via @WalukubaRugbyUg

Jinja, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Rugby coaches and fans in Jinja city are upbeat about the growth of the sport following the competitiveness of different rugby clubs there. Ronald Rubambura, the coach of Walukuba Barbarians told journalists shortly after their 43-11 loss to Jinja Hippos rugby club on Saturday that having two clubs in the rugby’s topflight league is a key milestone in the sport.

Rubambura notes that unlike the earlier years when rugby was a sport for a section of high school students and select groups of people, big crowds of fans throng the pavilions and sidelines to watch the sport. He says that rugby sport is growing at a first rate with grassroots clubs in communities and openings in schools, which will over time increase the buildups for rugby sport throughout Jinja city.

Sayed Atibu, the head coach of Jinja Hippos says that rugby in Jinja city has shed a clear limelight on the growth of the sport throughout eastern Uganda with lower group teams from the neighboring areas of Kamuli, Iganga, Tororo, Buikwe, and Mbale, among others benchmarking from its’ performance at different levels.

Atibu notes that the topflight league clubs in Jinja city, comprising of Hippos and Walukuba respectively have junior teams for different age grades and women’s teams, which in the end has marketed the sport across the board.

John Musisi, a fan of Njeru Hurricanes in Njeru municipality, says that rugby was in the past viewed as a sport for only the elites, but after watching dozens of community members getting involved, he developed a love for the sport.

“Rugby was largely a popular sport among middle-class citizens. However, we began following it from Jinja and now we currently have a club in the regional league, which is a positive notch to the growth of the sport,” he said.

Fatuma Namwanje, a fan of Hippos rugby club, says that Jinja was in the past known for Nile rugby. However, the two clubs in the topflight league have created competitiveness between participating teams and the fans alike, which levels the ground for the growth of the sport.



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