InternationalNational 15s

Rugby Africa: Who joins Brian Asaba in the back row?

The Gold Cup resumes this weekend after a four week hiatus and Uganda will be in action against a stubborn Tunisia side who already have points on the board, while Uganda don’t.

“That (qualifying for the World Cup) was obviously one of the goals, we control our destiny we didn’t get there but by the end of the day we are still a good team. It’s a pleasure to coach these boys but the end of the day it’s not the result we wanted.”

“If you play a good team and allow them to get 31 points it’s going to be a tough challenge. I am very proud of the boys for fighting the way back to the challenge, they stuck to the plan which am very happy about,” said a distraught John Duncan after losing to Kenya.

With that in mind, Uganda had lost back-rower Marvin Odong to injury early in the game while Ronald Musajja had also been withdrawn early after misfiring in all his attempts to tackle and stop Kenya. Ronald Musajja, who plays for Kenya Harlequins, has since been dropped from the squad with the coaching team looking elsewhere.

Musa Muwonge and Arthur Mukama have been called back into the camp and they look like the obvious replacements for Musajja and Odong. Musa Muwonge has gotten a number of caps under his belt since running out for the Cranes in the Elgon Cup last year and has been solid in his ball carrying and mauls. Arthur Mukama has featured once already this year and is raring to go again. In a season filled with medicority, Arthur was one of the spectacles to watch in Hima Cement Heathens.

There are a number of utility forwards in the team, including Byron Oketayot, Eliphaz Emong, Arthur Mpande, and Warriors’ Komakech Akera. On the back of a monstrous rugby sevens world cup, racking up the best defensive statistics, Byron could be thrown into back-row duties, a position he has previously featured in. Eliphaz Emong has been used as a lock in Uganda but has spent most of his time at Kabras in the back-row. It is not unfamiliar territory to the giant.

The conversation of giants never stays away from Akera Komakech. He has been a mainstay absolute menace in the Warriors forward setup, often switching between lock, flank and 8th. He has had the best tackle success rate with the Warriors the past season and has more that deservedly earned the call-up. Shell Rimula Rhinos’ forward Arthur Mpande joins the fray having only featured for the Cranes in the friendlies against the South African Barbarians. Like with Byron, Eliphaz and Akera, Mpnade’s versatility could see him deployed at flank.

Injuries are the last things Uganda needs right now with a lot on the line and given that the Cranes can’t afford to lose another game or else risk demotion to the second tier. Uganda were 78-17 winners over Tunisia in Kampala last year and the new Cranes captain is set to make sure Tunisia loses in Kampala again.

 

“It has been long since our fans last saw Uganda winning. We are home and this is our chance to prove that we have been doing our best to make sure we put smiles on our fans’ faces,” said Cranes captain Asuman Mugerwa, in an interview at Kyadondo Rugby Grounds, where Cranes will be battling Tunisia.

 

Saturday 4th August, 2018.

Rugby Africa Gold Cup

Uganda vs Tunisia – 3pm

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