Rugby Uganda: “We are going to win the Gold Cup next year” – Asuman Mugerwa

It has been a long campaign, from March when we started when we started training. It wasn’t an easy campaign to go through. At the start, we had three targets i.e.

  1. Qualify for the Rugby World Cup
  2. Qualify for the repechage
  3. Or, stay in Tier 1A.

Of the three, we achieved one target. Being my first year as captain, it hasn’t been easy as you need to learn and understand how everyone works.

Prior to the game against Zimbabwe, we had a query about players allowance that had taken long to come through. A promise was made for payment on Thursday (two days before playing Zimbabwe) but that didn’t hold up. The payment was made later though (after the game). The URU president talked to the team and made known the financial state of the union and there was no issue of boycotting the game or throwing the result. It didn’t affect the boys, because they understood the situation.

Going to Kabras permanently wasn’t out of the blue. I used to have mini-contracts with them but last year (2017), the Chairperson of Kabras asked me to give him two full seasons. I was scared at first, because I had to leave my family back. I later settled at heart because I knew the likes of Philip (Wokorach) were there and the fact that there were people who wanted to see me play there, I decided to play there.

They gave me a contract which no one before had offered me, be it national team. I actually had to quit my job too. Luckily, Kabras Sugar RFC is tied to the Sugar factory and I do part-time jobs with them as a mechanical engineer. I add that money to what I am paid for playing Rugby.

Asuman Mugerwa leads the Uganda Cranes out before kickoff against Morocco in the 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup. Photo : Eric Ndugutse

My family weren’t welcome to the fact that I was to play away from home. They really don’t want me to play there. Being the successor of my father, the family needs me back here to run things. When I am away, things don’t run as smoothly as they would when I am around. Before I went away, I made sure all business contacts and accounts are handled by my mother. My mother used to work closely with my late father so she was/is well conversant with everything.

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As for my family, my daughter had to get used to the rude truth that the mom is to take her to school yet she was used to seeing her father take her to school. My daughter and I hang a lot when I’m around, and we love rugby wholesomely. We usually hang at rugby clubs or at my mom’s. Though, I don’t think she will play rugby, even if her mother has no reservations.

When I am back in the country though and it is not my family or rugby, I have acquired the lad to put into farming but I am yet to get capital.

Too busy to read? Listen here to the full interview 

I actually didn’t play rugby in school, because the schools I went to weren’t exposed to the game. I found the game in 2006 at Kyadondo Rugby Club through Robert Seguya. I was doing some casual work in my vacation and when I met Robert who was working at Toyota Uganda by then, he took me to Kyadondo and gave me boots and all the gear I would ever need. He handed me to a one Mandela who practically taught me everything I needed to know. When I started in 2006, while at Saracens, I was voted best forward. From there, I was transferred to Buffaloes where after I had only played for one year, I was appointed captain.  I can proudly say I could lead, make tackles, give inspirational talks. Around 2009, I moved to Heathens. I don’t remember sitting on the bench while I was at Heathens. In 2011-12, I was called to the national team and my debut was against Tunisia. My early fondest memory was the win against Kenya. We were to become African champions had we won the game the following weekend as well but we lost to Zimbabwe, inadvertently missing out on the crown. That stung me, and from then, I vowed to myself to be captain and lead the nation to continental victory. The funny bit about the story is that wherever I have been, I haven’t been on the bench and playing constantly is how I have managed to maintain momentum and form.

I am still playing rugby until when I am welcome to the team. Until such a time that I am still needed to play, I will play for Uganda. Uganda last won the African crown in 2007 and my main target is to win that. We started practice for this year late but next year, we are aiming to win the Gold Cup. Among my other targets, is to take the country to Rugby World but that’s a four-year plan.

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I don’t think I have much time left in East African rugby as I have gotten offers from South Africa but I don’t fancy them that much. That is still Africa, because even South African players leave South Africa and go to England and France. I would openly welcome an opportunity to play in France.

Watch the full interview with Uganda Rugby Cranes captain, Asuman Mugerwa here 


DID YOU KNOW? – In June 2017, Asuman Mugerwa lost his father before Uganda played Kenya in the Elgon Cup in Kampala. He had a clear choice of going home to mourn, or stay and play for the team. My love for the game and this country pushed him to complete the game.