RUGBY CRANES ; A penny for my thoughts. By R.K. 

Saturday the 10th of June happened and we all bore witness to what occurred. The coaching stuff won’t have as much pressure on them for now after the boys put up quite an impressive display with a collection of debutants and less experienced options chosen. Positives and negatives were both drawn. And as we look forward to the next step, the hindsight will be crucial in knowing where fine tuning should be done.
Thumbs Up ;
The forwards were up for the challenge, very industrious and enterprising in their efforts to get across the gain line, not to mention the huge shift put into defending the try line. The front row boasting of countless caps did its leadership role as expected and they scrummed to the letter. Kudos.
Charles Uhuru was a warrior on the day; carrying the ball fearlessly, defending boldly and his line out jumping proving immensely useful. His counterpart Robert Aziku was a little quieter but nonetheless got the job done considerably well, ensuring that he supported the ball carriers and provided an alternate option at the lineout.
The back row was most exceptional of the pack if not the whole team . Brian Asaba, Scot Oluoch and Marvin Odong played like they were proving a point. They looked for work harder than a newly recruited intern and that eventually paid off when Scot and Marvin combined for Uganda’s first try, Scot breaking the defence and Marvin finishing with expertly run support lines.
The back line was hot and cold on the occasion. I couldn’t help but cross my fingers hoping that they were “hot” rather than cold whenever they got the ball. Ivan Magomu and Kirabo were the puppeteers of the show, moving the ball around and keeping the structure going with their exciting fast ball movement that caught the Kenyans unaware, so much that Biko Adema had to be withdrawn because he failed to find answers to the pair’s questions. They also provided the much sought after X factor or what is usually termed as “thinking outside the box” ,evident when Magomu chipped over a defence rushing in anticipation of a pass and instead freeing James Odong to waltz to the ball scoring the simplest of tries. This display presented a new dawn; one possessing an exciting brand of rugby without neglecting the cores of intensity, organization and structure necessary to propel the team forward even when individual brilliance falters.
Thumbs down;
Of course we can’t ignore the numerous flaws. Normally reliable wonder kid Phillip Wokorach seemed to have had an uncharacteristically mediocre day, missing the kind of kicks he usually puts away eyes closed, decision making was also questionable like opting to take contact in the defensive 22 rather than boot for territory, an act that cost the team dearly and in exact juxtaposition kicking the ball away in the offensive 22 metre area in an attempt to chip and chase. We can’t blame him too much because brilliance comes from experiment, we just hope he wakes up in God’s favour next time round.
Ivan Magomu at number ten had a few decisional glitches himself; notably why he opted to pass to Phillip Wokorach when he had time to kick which led to Kenya’s first try. As the chief shot caller, he is answerable for choosing not to use the “get out of jail” card to boot Uganda to better territory and avoid the rampant Kenyan pressure.
Pius Ogena was a shadow of what was expected from him at inside centre. Anyone that has watched him play at blindside or open side for the cranes would have been appalled at his very quiet show. Defensively, it paid off but in attack the number 12 was a ghost, he often ran the decoy lines, something that we aren’t sure whom to attribute to. Could it have been his flyhalf or himself for not seizing the opportunity to exploit what was a natural mismatch of a flanker-cum-centre playing among backs. 
Michael Wokorach had a big game defensively too however that’s where the story ends, although he missed a few tackles which luckily enough weren’t costly. With ball in hand he failed to create gaps and release his fullback and wingers, his coordination with Lawrence Ssebuliba on the day was that of cats living with dogs. The chiselled winger was very pedestrian to say the least and his usual pace and industry was sorely missed in contrast to James Odong, a much smaller athlete that was enterprising despite the numbness of the outside centre.
The substitutions made were spineless, the group commonly referred to as finishers came on to the most negligible of impact bar some shows of effort from Cyrus Wathum, the rest displayed a dull and very forgettable show, one even conceded a yellow card having just come on which put the home team in a compromising situation. The coaches need to stress the importance of the term “Impact substitutions”.
The discipline at the breakdown was bordering on schoolboy naivety, the team got punished cheaply when it could have avoided. Losing out on the perfect chance to consolidate the lead and secure the win.
Where to? after the fall to Kenya;
Much as we love the Elgon cup, this year it plays second fiddle to the gold cup. Focus is on bigger fish this year like World cup qualification and winning the CAR tier 1A tournament, a challenge we last conquered in 2007. So fortunately, the loss to Kenya not being a gold cup match but Elgon cup first leg was a blessing in disguise.
From now, we don’t have the luxury to drop any more points, starting with the visit to Ngong that counts as Leg 2 of the Elgon cup but also as match day 1 of the gold cup, we have to rethink all strategies, reassemble and play for a common goal.
Our guess is that John Duncan and Robert Sseguya might play more of their chess game of “preservation and tinkering “, keeping the more experienced players for the bigger stage. We hope to see the return of Chris Lubanga Opa, Mathias Ochwo in the game against Kenya on the 24th of June, Kimono and Kevin Makmot could be among those back in contention for a starting berth. In addition to that, we hope for more daring calls; handing caps to the young and brave in some positions such as starting an actual number 12 in the next game, could we see the return of “Kasoto” Gerald Ssewankambo or a potential debut for Eric Mula??
The start of the gold cup comes thick and fast, tactics are a key factor that have to be tailored to suit the team soon. Get the forwards gaining the yards, the backs showing Ugandan flair at its best, reduction in penalties conceded and disciplined relentless defence. Playing the Ugandan way!!


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