Sunday: Uganda vs. Ivory Coast
Wed, 8th: Uganda vs. Mauritius
Sat, 11th: Uganda vs. Botswana
Other fixtures (Sunday)
Madagascar vs. Botswana 12:30pm
Uganda vs. Ivory Coast 2:30pm
Mauritius vs. Senegal 4:30pm
The Rugby Cranes are in buoyant mood after lifting the Elgon Cup a fortnight ago. On Sunday, they start their quest to regain their spot in the tier 1A category when Uganda hosts the Rugby Africa Cup tier 1B tournament at Kyadondo rugby grounds.
John Duncan, the new Rugby Cranes head coach, was on the technical bench as Uganda defeated Kenya to win the Elgon Cup. He had not yet become accustomed to the team, having arrived in the country three days to the match.
One can presume that he has come to grips after two weeks working with his assistant Robert Seguya. So, the task at the moment will be to restore Ugandan rugby pride by helping the team qualify for tier 1A. Uganda dropped to tier 1B last season when the tournament was still dubbed Confederation of Africa Rugby championship. Then it changed name; it is now called Africa Cup.
There are 27 nations playing in the 2015 Africa Cup. They are split into several divisions. The highest division is Division 1A and the winner of this division gets crowned Africa Cup champion. The highest placed team in each division (except Division 1A) is promoted and the last-placed team in each division will be relegated.
Duncan has the home advantage and saw how the crowds roared on the team against Kenya, even when the Rugby Cranes faced a 16-point deficit. But his focus will not be on the home crowd; Duncan has noted that discipline will be a key factor in getting the job done.
And he couldn’t have been more spot on. For instance in the first leg of the Elgon Cup in Nairobi, Justin Kimono was suspended for head-butting a Kenyan player and as such, received a two-week ban.
“We need to take the first game as a final,” Brian Odongo Rugby Cranes captain, as Uganda prepare for the tournament opener. “We have to play at 100 per cent.”
In the second leg, Joseph Aredo and John Wandicho both were sin-binned just moments after coming on as second half substitutes.
The Rugby Cranes have been a shadow of the team that was African champions in 2007 because of failure to develop structures and turn the game professional. On top of that it had taken Uganda three years without winning the Elgon Cup.
The Rugby Cranes are placed in pool A, alongside Madagascar and Senegal. Pool B has Ivory Coast, Mauritius and Botswana. The top two teams in each group will meet in the final.