Sevens rugby back in the thick of things

The revamped national 7s circuit run its course, reaching a crescendo at Legends Club last weekend with Toyota Buffaloes laughing last. That was the fourth leg of the tournament which got a spring in its step thanks to a Shs 72m tonic from KCB.

With KCB ensuring that financial muscles could be flexed, the Uganda Rugby Union managed to take the party to Mbale.

The penultimate leg of the 7s circuit was held in the eastern district. Although it was poorly attended (the likes of D’Mark Kobs, Pirates, Mutoni Warriors, EzeeMoney Rhinos and Impis were a no-show), solace could be sought in the indisputable fact that the Union was trying to spread the tentacles of the sport further.

The pitch in Mbale has been the subject of interest of developers who have made no secret of their intentions to pull the plug on sports activities there. By taking the third leg of the national 7s circuit and indeed attracting a crowd, the Union was in its own way standing up to the developers. This cannot be lauded more.

I’ll tell you what else deserves to be lauded – the Union’s newfound interest in 7s rugby. The shorter version of the sport had previously gotten a tattered cushion from the powers that be, but it now thick on the ground. A Uganda development side was for one recently dispatched to Kenya to feature in the Masaku 7s. The team did its best to cover itself in glory, making it to the Main Cup final, which it lost 38-14 to Fijian outfit, Tabadamu.

The long term goal for the Union now should be to get Uganda back on the International Rugby Board 7s circuit.

This will — if it does see the light of day — turn out to be a huge boost to Ugandan rugby seeing as 7s rugby is known to help improve your average 15s player. It equips players with the tools needed to thrive in the longer version of the sport as our close-door neighbours Kenya have showed. Crucial pieces to the jigsaw such as support play, which has continued to elude Ugandans at the 15s level, are largely honed in the shorter version of the sport.

The running game is gaining lots of currency the world over. It is, as your columnist suspects you know, the bread and butter of 7s rugby. Another key thing worth noting is how national 7s coach, Tolbert Onyango, has created a nucleus of 7s players and kept afloat his so-called Project 2016 in the process.

This nucleus of players can be made more inclined to the shorter version of the sport by ensuring that it partakes in 7s rugby on a consistent basis. The goal should be to have a well-drilled side that will have a crack at qualifying for the Olympics due in Rio in 2016. Activity both at home and abroad is what will keep 7s enthusiasts spellbound.

Thankfully, we are starting to see some activity as witnessed by both the KCB 7s and Masaku 7s. The national 7s side today departs for Glasgow, Scotland, where it will feature in the Commonwealth Games. A strong showing in Glasgow could yet open more doors.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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