Kenya: How Uganda Rugby Cranes Lost Elgon Cup to Kenya

The Rugby Cranes' focus has now shifted to the Victoria Cup, coming up later this month, when they face Zimbabwe. But before then, taking stock of what happened in the Elgon Cup second leg remains pertinent.

At the Elgon Cup after-party last Saturday, July 13, at Kyadondo Rugby Club, Lady Rugby Cranes player Irene 'Ziggy' Nzige stormed the stage, to show off her Lingala strokes, soon after Lydia Jazmine had performed and lifted the audience.

Nzige is not your ordinary lady. She is big, and certainly one that tried her utmost to knock the Kenyans into submission. But they gave as good as they got. Even more actually, if one is to consider that they beat Uganda 35-05 on the day, and 77-18 on aggregate, to win the women's version of the Elgon Cup.

While Nzige still had the energy to climb onto that high stage, to party, none of the men (Rugby Cranes players) could be seen at Kyadondo late in the night. It is likely, that they had retreated to their homes, to nurse the knocks from the Kenya Simbas they had sustained on the day. However, it is unlikely that they could find the energy to even lift a beer, something many of them enjoy, after, they had failed to win the Elgon Cup which so many of their fans had expected them to. Just what went wrong in a tie, that was full of prospects for Asuman Mugerwa and company?

On June 22, Uganda had beaten Kenya 16-13 in Kisumu. Therefore, they were favourites, to complete the job, upon return home.

"The players made so many mistakes, and thus lost a winnable game," rugby Cranes coach Robert Seguya said, with teary eyes.

Indeed, there were several knock-ons and misplaced passes, that allowed Kenya, to have territory on Uganda. As a result, that made it difficult for Uganda to add to the one try (five points) made by home debutant, Ronald Kanyanya. In addition, Magomu is normally a key player for Uganda, because of his quick movement and intelligent passing. But on the day, he did not flourish. Observers noted that the heavy rains earlier in the day made the pitch soggy, limiting Uganda's quick movement.

That said, Seguya's team selection has been questioned. Picture this: in the first leg, while Seguya did not have some senior players, he went for those available and placed them in their natural positions.

The team won away, owing to good balance. Yet, in the second leg, where Seguya positioned some key players in their least favoured positions, it handicapped the team. For example, Philip Wokorach, arguably Uganda's best player, was so ineffective, when he was fielded as a winger and not a full-back.

For long spells, he got little contact on the ball. And when your best player is not involved, disaster is bound to strike; that is the 05-16 loss, a 29-21 aggregate result. For Ziggy and co, their result was more depressing. But because they are just taking baby steps, as their coach Edgar Lemerigar pointed out, the ladies had no weight of burden, to stop them enjoying the after-party.

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