The 2nd FISU Rugby 7s games took place on the 9th and 10th of October. The games are aimed at having FISU Member Universities across Africa compete in the tournament in games tennis and Rugby. This year’s games attracted 11 rugby teams; 10 men’s teams and 3 women’s teams.
The Universities that were in attendance were Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology, University of Johannesburg, Kabale Univeristy, Dayster University, BYE, Kenyatta University, Stellenbosch University, Makerere University, Makerere Business School, United States International University Africa, and University of Pretoria. Uganda as the host country fielded 3 men’s teams and 1 women’s team which all staggered through the tournament.
The Makerere Women’s team participated for the first time in a rugby tournament following the teams formation three weeks to the tournament. The Makerere teams had camped at the institution for three weeks with intense training.
However, high stakes were mainly placed on the men’s team as it comprised of highly placed rugby players. The women’s team automatically was placed in the top 3 positions as only three women’s teams participated in the tournament.
The Makerere Men’s team lost in its opening game against Stellenbosch University (38:00) and this seemed to set the trend for the following games as they only won one game against Makerere Business School (36:00). They were knocked out of the tournament by Kenyatta University at quarter finals. This was a decline from the previous Kings of Africa where the Makerere mens team played till the semi finals.
Coach Emmanuel Katuntu stated in response to the teams performance, “I expected them to improve from the previous tournament where we finished 3rd. There was something greater to play for so I expected them to fight so hard to be able to win and get a chance to qualify for the university 7s world cup.”
He had high hopes in the team as he believes they could have done better since they had prepared better. He thinks that the team didn’t execute its plan well. The teams they lost to beat them in almost every aspect of the game which reflected the lack of control of the matters on the pitch and a sense of timidity in a number of the players which definitely affected the teams performance.
However, he also attributed the poor performance to the little time they had to prepare for the tournament as a number of players were joining the team for the first time. This didn’t give them enough time to get familiar with the rest of the group and the game plan. He added,”The team needed at least 8 weeks to prepare mentally and physically for a tournament of that kind and be able to compete but they had less than 3 weeks to work.”
Some of the shortlisted players for the Makerere Team didn’t make it to the camp for different reasons which also affected the strength of the squad.
The reasons Coach Emmanuel Katuntu gave are literally similar to what most individuals expressed concerning the games.
The captain of Kabale University Rugby team, Kabagambe Edward expressed similar concerns but held high hopes for the sport at the university. It was the first time for the team to engage in any rugby tournament as well. It’s a new sport at the University and in Kigezi at large. Kabale University barely won any game and lost miserably to its counterparts. (Kabale University 00:41 Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology, Kabale Univeristy 00:40 Dayster University, University of Johannesburg 57:00 Kabale University, Kenyatta University 41:00 Kabale University). “I believe we performed well as this was our first Rugby tour. We already knew that we were going to meet strong teams but we were looking forward to gaining experience which we obtained and will use to improve the sport at our school.”
However, Coach Jude Rwakayanga was happy about how the Makerere women’s team performed. He expressed the fear and low hopes in had in the girls given that most of the girls where playing rugby as first timers crossing from other sports. The team trained every morning and evening for three weeks.
Coach Jude stated, “Their performance was excellent, being their first tournament ever against the top teams in the world’s best ranked rugby nation South Africa. The first game, the team played with nervousness but improved by each game they played and by the last game against University of Pretoria the team was solid and full of confidence. They learnt how to posses the ball, take it forward and scored a try with other scoring opportunities narrowly missing.” He also attributed the performance to the captain’s role, Mwenyago Sherinah, on the team.
Makerere Business School’s performance was not any different from the other Ugandan teams that participated. It lost its opening game against BYE university (20:00). Other games played were against Stellenbosch University (50:00), Makerere University (36:00), and United States International University Africa (41:00).
The performance was generally not good and this questions the planning and preparation teams had. Last minute preparations, could be the main reason behind the poor performance at as well as lack of support from the administrators or governing bodies. Unlike, the 1st King of africa tournament where there was no stage after that, this time round World Rugby 7s in Karzan Russia was the focus for most teams.
Institutions need to look more into long term sustainability of teams and their growth over last minute preparations. The tournament should be stepping stone for the next games that will take place to have the teams well prepared and conditioned.
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