It’s been more than two months of constant energy sapping, lung bursting and exhilarating sevens action for the players; the fans have been surely given their money’s worth or for that matter, an excess on what they paid. This year’s sevens have had it all – from traveling East and West of the country, shockers and back to back flood lights action, there is need to give credit where it’s due this time round.
New formats were in play for this last showcase – the introduction of qualifiers for core status as the most notable of spices added to the day’s events, giving the competition a World series feel to things. It was a day of surprises, one of them being the return of the Makerere Impis who had missed out on all the other circuits due to God knows what, something that condemned them to a slot among the preliminary qualifiers.
The big boys came onto the stage in the afternoon with the commencement of the group stages. What was at stake? – one might ask ; well, all Pirates had to do was get into the knockout stages and be assured of taking the overall title which would mean that the Sea Robbers have completed a clean sweep of all three titles available in the entire rugby calendar.
However that wasn’t all for the day, the winner of the Flood light 7’s in particular would walk away with 1.5 million Uganda Shillings which meant that even the “almost reassured” Pirates had to be at their best despite all their accomplishments – no time to slack.
The progression of the group stages had an element of normalcy in the way things have been transpiring with Pirates, Kobs, Rams, Warriors, Buffaloes, Hippos, Heathens and Mongers making the quarters.
The return of experienced heads in the Kobs ranks was definitely showing in the composure and maturity in the way execution was done, the Blue army looked to be on the right track. On the other side of things, Pirates were being their usual selves with an exciting brand of rugby that saw them obliterate their opponents prior to the semis, same story with the Makerere Rams who made easy work of Warriors in a case of what seems to have become a psychological block for the Warriors who haven’t beaten Rams at the quarter final stage in the entire series despite meeting multiple times at the same stage coincidentally.
The semi final stage brought mouth watering match ups ; Buffaloes holding the Kyadondo flag against a well drilled Rams team as Kobs set a date with neighbours/rivals/counterparts (call it what you may) Pirates. Many were of the view that the Kobs – Pirates match up was the final in the guise of a semi and it didn’t disappoint. Big hits, bone crunching tackles, flaring tempers of passion from both players and fans in what was undoubtedly the game of the day.
The difference this time was Kobs came while up for the challenge; the maturity and composure needed under such testing circumstances that had long eluded them seemed to have returned to their ranks, this was exhibited in the rather unorthodox humbling of crowd and bookie favorites Pirates. The game ended 24-07 in favour of the Betway Kobs who had set the blueprint on how to defeat Pirates. There were many impressive displays from the likes of Ian Munyani and Justin Kimono but the name on everyone’s lips was Adrian Kasito. In a game of high physicality, the diminutive back’s grace and wit made the difference and handed the Kobs a place in the final against Rams who had out muscled the Toyota Buffaloes.
The final saw a spirited Rams team do their best but remain no match for a determined Kobs outfit who wanted to end on a high having lost the overall series title to the Pirates, one they had held onto for quite a while.
Looking back in retrospect, as the common saying goes; “Rugby was the winner” – this year’s 7s competition felt like one that was actually thought about in depth and one where the investment was worth the time to for both players and fans. Kudos to the union and we hope to see even better with years to come.