After a hugely successful 2015, where the lads put up a spirited show to win the Elgon Cup, and sail through to win the Africa Rugby Cup 1B, taking 4 wins out of 5 games in total, 2016 was always going to be a more challenging year.
Coming off facing Ivory Coast, Mauritius and Botswana, ranked 47th, 88th and 71st respectively then, Uganda faces a tougher challenge in Namibia ranked 21st in the world, Kenya 27th and Zimbabwe 31st in the world. Uganda ranked 57th at the beginning of 2015 climbed the rankings ten places up, now standing at 47th out of 100 world rankings. Many hopes and prayers are that the trend will continue upwards.
The first encounter of the year raised all sorts of emotions, quite understandable after losing to arch rivals Kenya the way Uganda did and this was an eye opener to the weaknesses in the squad that needed to be corrected going into the Africa Rugby Cup 1A tournament. Uganda will have to show zeal, wits, strength, brilliance, perseverance to stay in this class of the best in Africa Rugby and the trip to South Africa after the Elgon Cup is one many hope will show them how to achieve this.
The Uganda Rugby Cranes were in Bloemfontein, Free State in South Africa from 11th June to 20th June 2016 for a training camp hosted by Cheetahs.
AREAS OF CONCERN:
After the Elgon Cup loss, the weak areas were identified and these were the areas dealt with the most while in camp. According to communication from URU and team management, the major areas of concern as exposed from that game were gaps in the line defense, shifting numbers to the wings to cover the mismatches as well as defending mauls. If i may, let me add line outs to this and hope that was on their list too as this, is an area Uganda had always dominated, was quite wanting on that day.
The team had a chance to play two intense games; losing 38-13 to Cheetahs U21 team and then defeating the Bloemfontein Police 24-22. Despite the loss against the Cheetahs U21, and do not be fooled, this side is as good as they come with some players featuring for the main team and the others fighting for a place there, Uganda saw a great improvement in play. The mood in camp and attitude of the players since return is a massive change in the positive direction.
TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE IN S.A
While in South Africa, the team was mostly under the supervision of Rory Duncan, the Director of Rugby of the Cheetahs and a very high level coach in South Africa. He dedicated a lot of time out of his busy schedule to guide this team during their stay. Coming back from camp the team returned with John Duncan a brother to Rory, who alongside Robert Seguya and Anthony Kinene will keep working together all through the Africa Rugby Cup 1A to bring Uganda success.
The last time the Rugby Cranes had a camp in South Africa in 2007, they dominated, made a statement, won and became African Champions, is this a story of same script, different cast….we pray and hope so.
July 2nd Uganda Vs Namibia
July 16th Zimbabwe Vs Uganda
July 30th Kenya Vs Uganda (Also Elgon Cup second leg).
Adapted from Ug Rugby Fanzone, @ugrugbyfans
Also follow build up to the game here and have your say.