The Women’s Rugby World Cup Qualifiers are done, with South Africa going to represent the continent, but the mood about the Lady Cranes after the experience is that of a new team.
South Africa Women won three games from three, with bonus points, amassing 15 points, and are assured of being in New Zealand in 2021 while Kenya Lionesses still have to contend in the Repechage for a spot at the World Showpiece. Uganda earned two points from the draw with Madagascar on the last game day but sat last on the final log of four team, on points difference.
“I was called upon to try and fix something and I believe that is what I am doing. We can once again boast that women’s 15s competitive rugby exists. The easy part was to get the players to try and play. Then came the hardships of course,” remarked Coach Edgar Lemerigar.
Before 2019, the Lady Cranes last exploits were in 2014, an Elgon Cup loss to the Kenya Lionesses and the idea of having a fully functional team alone in the space of three months in 2019 is satisfactory to for Rugby Cranes international and coach, Edgar Lemerigar.
“The girls have had a great experience right from the first day here in Uganda in the residential camp, great team chemistry and environment and South Africa changed their minds even more. They themselves know they could have done better but some areas still need more work, a lot of work like strength and conditioning.”
“As a person and as a coach, I have made friends with the entire SA staff and we exchanged a few ideas as well. We are not the same team. The Lady Cranes are a new team. The world should wait to judge us by those results in South Africa. We have come from far and I can now confidently say that this team will be a force on the continent again,” Lemerigar told Kratos Sports.
Uganda lost resoundingly on opening day to hosts South Africa 89-05 before facing off with East African neighbors Kenya on game day 2. After a strong first half, the floodgates opened and saw Kenya win 37-05. The ladies restored some dignity with hard ground 15-all draw against Madagascar to cap off the qualifiers in South Africa.
“First game against SA was great lesson. A real tough one. The second game though, we put a number of scare flares in the Lionesses and it showed at half time when they were leading only 3-0. We threw away a game we could have won.”
Lemerigar will surrender a host of his girls to the 7s team, that is set to go into camp with former 7s captain Helen Buteme ahead of the Africa 7s in October in Tunisia where the winner will win a direct ticket to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games.
“We shall meet as management of the team to debrief our stand and also come up with targets per individual and as a whole team. We have achieved a lot in just 3 months and it was down to all our sponsors, fans, the technical team and the union of course.”
On the eve of the tournament, Lady Cranes received a boost in sponsorship from motor car giant in terms of merchandise and money (USD 5000).