Kicking, not heat cost Rugby Cranes in Tunis

KAMPALA

It’s only the calendar that turned a page from 2013 to 2014. For the Rugby Cranes, nothing has changed. Last year ended in a 52-11 loss to Kenya in Madagascar.

Rugby Cranes were consequently relegated from Africa Cup tier 1A to 1B. Now in a lower division, the results were to improve immediately. They haven’t.

Uganda lost 19-22 to Ivory Coast in the 1B opener on Tuesday, a first matchup between the two in eight years and coach Peter Magona’s team are in the same spot as last July. Despite scoring three tries from wing Jonathan Onen and replacement forwards Asuman Mugerwa and debutant Syrus Wathum, an old ghost came back to haunt Uganda.

“We only converted two of the tries, missed four penalties and a conversion,” team manager Herbert told Daily Monitor on phone from Tunis, Tunisia yesterday. “We also butchered two try scoring opportunities. Our kickers were totally off though we outsmarted them in open play.” That’s not new. So how did the opposition score? “There is also a lack of concentration especially on the back-step,” the former national captain responded.

That accounted for five successful penalties for the Ivorians who also converted a try. It wasn’t the North African heat that snuffed out the fight. On July 14, 2013, Uganda lost 48-30 to hosts Madagascar in the division 1A relegation play-off to leave Antananarivo dejected.

Saturday will feel the same. Only victory against Senegal, another West African side, will keep Uganda in IB. Defeat will mean relegation to IC. There is a window of opportunity though. “Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) informed us there may be changes to the format after this year,” Magona, uncertain of the future, said before travelling. “I’m not sure there will even be a 1A or 1B next year.” Before you even call it a scapegoat, the reality lies in dearth of kickers.

Statistically, 16 points went to waste. Flip the page and Uganda would be facing Tunisia for the 1A title on Saturday. The margins are always thin.

CAR AFRICA 1B RESULTUganda 19-22 Ivory CoastSATURDAY – RELEGATION PLAYOFFUganda vs. Senegal (Sat. June 14)

dkigongo@ug.nationmedia.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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