Yet again, the efforts of the Rugby Cranes seemed so near but yet so far. With the final whistle, Uganda’s 2017 Gold cup aspirations varnished leaving the team awaiting another year to have a go at the coveted Gold cup. There wasn’t to be a historical comeback this time round as was the case in Madagascar 2007 when against the same opponent, the boys rallied back to pip a one point victory that also secured one of Uganda’s biggest rugby achievements. This time, the script had no fairytale ending for the ever growing passionate sport that is rugby in Uganda.
Prior to this duel, the head to head indicated that the Namibians had won two out of the last three and Uganda with a solitary but very significant win against the former. This campaign has been anything but smooth for the boys and for all the obstacles that they had to overcome, a pat on the back is in order for the job well done as a team, earning the respect of many without a doubt and surely setting a steady foundation on which more progress shall be laid. The kind of noise that Ugandan Rugby has put out this year has undoubtedly got the attention of many and put to shame various critics that seem to think it is a waste of resources (most of whom are ignorant of what the sport is – like the most recent baseless and shallow minded blabbering of a one Aldrine Nsubuga on national radio)
WHAT WENT WRONG AGAINST NAMIBIA
Speaking to one of Uganda’s greats of the sport after the loss, he mentioned and I quote, “…… Prepare for every battle in equal measure, with the same intensity and will, play your game the best way you know and even in loss you shall leave with your head held high…..”
These words sank deep as i replayed them and the 2007 champion made a lot of sense. Uganda seemed to have had a whole different approach to proceedings this time as compared to the week before. Games are won beginning with the preparation and in my opinion, it seems like the tempo was toned down a notch to a more cautious approach and by the time we realized that their immortal status was a fallacy and tried to bring the game to them, the score gap had widened beyond what we could chew, not forgetting they are quite efficient, punishing up to 90% of our mistakes.
I’m sorry for those that this affects but who shall speak of this if not the people that truly care, again in my sincere opinion some of the players were below par, we are all humans and nerves are inevitable but how one curbs their influence is what separates greats from ordinary men. We were victims of failure to control our human nature, the wingers seemed to have lost the plot defensively, with every phase the Namibians spread to the wing, we got punished, until the hurried (panic) substitutions tried to mend the situation. Surely a moment to forget for the two, sadly Okia having to bow out with an injury as well.
It will be a grave injustice if I didn’t mention that the very promising Ronald Musajja could and should have been more active as a back row, the line up showed he was at blindside although he wore the openside shirt (well I got over that), irrespective of shirt number, I felt he was a little too quiet, too pedestrian and out of the action as compared to his fellow back rows. Could it be a problem with fitness, honestly we know he can do better and he needs to show it otherwise we are just sorely missing Marvin Odongo.
There was a bit of misunderstanding and miscommunication among some of the players. A fair amount of arguments after one or two mistakes seemed to show signs of crumbling in the team, a thing that could have been quelled easily since the game was not yet done.
Defensively, a lapse in the communication was another observation. How was it that on a number of occasions, the forwards were found at the wing defending against backs, we paid dearly for this constant scenario of mismatch that gifted the visitors a lead that could have otherwise been avoided.
In addition, it appeared as if there was continued miscommunication between Michael at outside Centre and Lawrence at the wing, a repeated sight of Michael shooting in the defensive press leaving the winger isolated and at the wrong end of a two on one situation.
Enough of that, the past is the past and can’t be reversed. Looking at the silver lining, the coaching staff can be proud of the depth that has presented itself this year. There was a time when Kevin Makmot’s absence would have sparked a crisis but this campaign, he has been available but barely used due to the competent competition.
We still have a lot of work to do on how best to prepare “depth players” so as to ensure they are worthy cover. Possibly come up with a program that will revive the Uganda A team, they could travel and play teams from other tiers as the Rugby Cranes do their thing earning them much needed game experience, making them ready when the senior call up comes and avoiding the redundancy of said depth. But the Union can at least pick a positive out of the various players that stood up to be counted this campaign, a major bonus for the sport and the nation at large.
FOCUS NOW SHIFTS TO ZIMBABWE
The trophy might be beyond our reach for now but it’s important to finish strongly. Zimbabwe our next guests will visit after a sore home loss to the Kenya Simbas, eager to prove a point as well. An epic encounter this – preview to come.
#RugbyCranes #NaMutima #RugbyAfricaGoldCup