KAMPALA- Rugby Cranes scored three tries against Ivory Coast last Tuesday and still lost 19-22 in the Africa Cup tier 1B semifinal in Tunis, Tunisia.
That meant that Uganda had to beat top ranked Senegal to guarantee at least one year in the second tier of associate rugby for at least one year in a relegation playoff. On Saturday, coach Peter Magona’s side scored a try more, four, but that effort was still insufficient as they lost 32-31 to the West Africans.
Barring a major overhaul as promised by the Confederation of Africa Rugby (CAR) last year, Uganda will now play in 1C as the national team’s slide entered a whole new phase.
Lying in eighth “CAR informed us there may be changes to the format after this year so I’m not sure there will even be a 1A or 1B next year,” Magona said before the trip North.
Having presided relegation from 1A last year, Magona, a former national captain and Uganda Rugby Union (URU)hairmanship candidate, must now feel like a man hanging on to a branch amid a huge storm.
Uganda are now the eighth among associate teams in Africa and that’s a new feeling for an entire generation.
Since admission into the International Rugby Board (IRB) in 1997, Ugandan rugby has taken significant steps, winning the tier 1B event in Nairobi in 2002.
Growth continued and culminated into winning the Africa Cup 1A even in Madagascar seven years ago. It was never the turning point as everyone hoped.
The team, with one survivor today in Mathias Ochwo, has never hit those heights again.
South African Rugby also pulled the plug on technical support extended to Uganda between 2006 and 2009.
Playing in a division that has Botswana, Morocco, Nigeria, Mauritius, Zambia and Niger will mean less IRB funding and maybe even less sponsorship.
The bigger question will be: how did we previously climb from the bottom to the top then slide again into an unending abyss? AFRICA CUP RELEGATION Uganda 31 – 32 Senegal
SOURCE: Daily Monitor