After five thrilling circuits over the past month or so, the race for the National 7s series heats up as we take the bend towards the finish line. Heading into the coronation 7s hosted by Shell Rimula Rhinos at Legends Rugby grounds, a number of observations keep fighting their way out of my mind and i chose to give in this time and let them loose.
Log leaders, Pirates Rugby club have their work cut out for them and can’t afford another loss if they want to keep destiny in their own hands. Having started with a bang, the fire seems to have quelled slightly ever since their loss against the Sevens academy in the final at Kyadondo – the Sea Robbers have won two circuits but have gone on to three near misses.
Not to be misquoted, finishing third place or second as they have in the past weeks isn’t a bad achievement by any means but by their own lofty standards, they need to win at least one more circuit to assume a comfortable dominance. Anything short of that sees the chasing pack draw even closer or possibly oust them from the pinnacle where they sit.
The return of the sevens internationals
Pirates Rugby club thrives on the cohesion that its youthful players have created among themselves. Therefore when one or two are withdrawn from the set up, this brings about a break down in the system – it is unclear whether the returned 7s internationals will be featuring this weekend but Pirates will be more than happy to see the return of the elusive Timothy Kisiga, Desire Ayera and Ivan Magomu to form the full complement of their ranks.
It would be a return that is very much welcomed, the maturity and X-factor that the trio bring to the table is very valuable despite going unnoticed many a time. Nonetheless, other teams welcome back their 7s stars as well which makes for an epic clash in the circuits to follow.
Kobs have Justin Kimono and Adrian Kasiito back – assuming the later has recovered from a hip injury that left him out of day two of the Rugby 7s world cup, Byron Oketayot returns for Rhinos, and Michael Okorach for Heathens.
Kobs Rugby sit five points behind the Sea Robbers and have the most realistic of chances to knock the leaders off their perch, they however have to do away with the demons that have made them choke when they reach the finals. The 7s defending champions have been unreliable when they reach the final or semi final stage so far, coming out on top on only one occasion in Mbarara.
Buffaloes are the only other side that look like they are serious enough to pose an actual threat to Pirates series triumph but this weekend comes at a do or die cost for them – anything less than a circuit victory rules them out surely, the fact that they are 12 points behind the leaders at this stage is a case for winning all your games but still hoping for the early downfall of your competition. Wishful thinking but this is sport, anything can happen.
The current 7s series log as it stands. Photo credit – Rugby Nation Ug
At the bottom of the log lies a number of teams that have no points at all, this could be attributed to the fact that they have been inconsistent in participation in the circuits thus far. We suspect this to be attributed to logistical challenges that the Uganda Rugby Union should look to facilitate in the future.
In a bid to promote rugby in other regions of the country, we have to acknowledge the lack of solid sponsorship for teams such as MUBS, KIU, Walukuba, Gulu, Western Titans; we aim to grow the sport and increase on competition and player base but the governing body has to put in that initial push to help these teams reach the level of their Kampala based counterparts. Like an infant that takes baby steps first, these teams have to be facilitated as they secure future sponsorships and an actual revenue model for themselves.
Emphasis on event publicity
The Pirates 7s were in all honesty were very poorly attended when compared to the tournaments that preceded, there was a certain negligence on the side of publicity where you wouldn’t get any serious push from the Pirates’ social platforms and the Union neither. This should change – fans are an integral part of the game and have to be notified efficiently to keep them in the know. Social media is a powerful tool that isn’t being utilised well at the moment.
Kudos to the Rhinos media team that have made as much noise about the coronation 7s as possible and i am confident the results shall be witnessed come Saturday.
It has been a thrilling journey so far in the past 5 circuits thanks to Guiness Uganda, the shape of the top three makes for a mouth watering finish to the series.
Like we say at Akatimba, Miss if you must, though i advise you don’t.