Giants Heathens, Kobs dominated the national team at 2001 Safari 7s

This is the team that played at the 2001 Safari 7s tournament in Kenya. Captained by Herbert Wafula and coached by Tolbert Onyango, the team reached the plate semis.

David Mutaka (Heathens): His career kicked off at Namilyango. He joined Impis in 1997-1999, making his 7s debut at the 1999 Safari. At Heathens (2000-2007), he won three league titles, five Uganda Cups and six 7s Circuits. He joined Buffaloes in 2008 and retired in 2009. He has had a career of mixed fortunes.

As Buffaloes coach, he only managed one win in the 2009 season. “Luckily, we didn’t get relegated,” he laughs. However, in 2008, he led the Lady Cranes to the 2009 7s World Cup in Dubai. Mutaka works as a Business Partner, Stanbic Bank main branch. He is also into creating awareness about the game through the Rugby FanZone platform.

Michael Wandera (Kobs): His family shaped him into an ultimate sportsman. His father, Maj. Gen. Francis Nyangweso (RIP) is one of the most talented boxers and sports administrators Uganda has ever produced while his mother, Rosemary Musani Nyangweso participated in the 1972 Olympics, won gold (200m) and silver (400m) at the 1971 East African Championships and also bagged gold (400m) and silver (200m) at the 1973 All-Africa Games in Lagos, Nigeria. Nicknamed ‘Undertaker’ for his prowess, Wandera has served rugby in all aspects has captained Kobs, the 7s national team (2002-2003) and led it to the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Unfortunately, he missed the Games through injury.

Wandera has also served as Kobs Vice Chairman, Secretary General and is also a Uganda Rugby Union (URU) Honorary Secretary. He is an aocate with Wegulo and Wandera Aocates.

Katongole Kambi (Rhinos): The only player from Rhinos on that team. He is an IT specialist and recently worked for Huawei Technologies Uganda.

Brian Tabaruka (Heathens): A perfect example of late developers, he first touched a rugby ball in his senior six vacation in 1996. Ironically, he also studied at Namilyango. “I was very small and nervous. Most of those guys were huge, so I couldn’t risk,” he says. His brother, Allan Tindikahwa, who was playing for King’s College Budo, lured him into the game and he has never looked back. He made his 7s debut in 1999 and played on until 2005. He played for the national 15s side in 1999-2007, winning the coveted African championship. He spent his entire career at Heathens (1996-2009), winning four league trophies, seven Uganda Cups, eight 7s Circuits and four Makerere 10s. In 2010, he was named Heathens coach, a position he quit in October with five league titles, three Uganda Cups, three 7s Circuits and one Makerere 10s. There is also talk of a testimonial in his honor. Tabaruka is the General Manager at Regus, a multinational corporation dealing in workplace solutions in 107 countries.

Tony Nyangweso (Kobs): Another son to Nyangweso and another Namilyango product. He learnt from the likes of Godfrey Mabonga, Eugene Birungi and Mark Kagaba. “Reading about my older brothers, Leonard Were and (Michael) Wandera in the newspapers also pushed me to work hard,” he says. He won three league titles and one Mwamba 7s Cup. Nyangweso is based in Scotland and plays for Cartha Queens’ Park RFC, which he has led to three BT Premiership trophies.

Robert Sseguya: ‘Soggy’, as he is affectionately known in rugby circles, is oftentimes regarded as Uganda’s best, ever. And his achievements speak for themselves. He has won the Africa Cup tier 2 title (2002), the African Championship (2007), Elgon Cup (2006), five league titles and seven Uganda Cups. He also played at the Commonwealth Games (2006, 2010) and three IRB Sevens Circuits (2001, 2003, 2004). In 2007, he captained the African Leopards, a team of Africa’s best associate players. Soggy’s 7s debut came in 1999 against the London Irish. Countless times, he has suffered broken hands and dislocated shoulders but the warrior in him always pushes him back. He is currently coaching Heathens and Hana Mixed School.

Ronnie Lutakome (Kobs): Another Namilyango product, this was his first 7s tournament. He played for Kobs and Impis and had two stints in the UK with Croydon RFC and Chelmsford RFC. He has six league titles, three Uganda Cups and one 7s Circuit. Lutakome has also coached Kobs, the Uganda 7s team and non-league Lira Bulls. Lutakome, a self-employed graphics designer in Kampala, took a sabbatical from playing but he is planning a comeback.

Isaac Lutwama (Kobs): His scorching pace on the wing was a joy to watch simply unstoppable. He was one of the youngest players in this team. Lutwama’s career also started at Namilyango before joining Kobs. He is also a one-club man but work commitments have not favored his rugby he is in-and-out of the game. He is currently based in Nairobi.

Reuben Ambicha: He was the team manager and currently works with the United Nations in Middle East.

Herbert Wafula (Pirates): He was the captain. His career started at Upper Hill School in Kenya in the mid ‘80s. “I was in Senior One in 1989. As a punishment, I was either to chop grass or join our school team for training.” He chose the latter and joined the now defunct Standard Chartered RFC-Nairobi (1991-1991), Impala Nairobi (1993-1993), winning the Eric Shirley Shield and leading it to promotion. Rhinos (1994-1996) was his first club in Uganda. He got his 7s debut in 1997 for the Uganda Kobs (junior side) that played at the Safaris and then got promoted to the senior team in 1998. He got his 15s debut against Kenya in 1997. He joined Kobs (1997) and won the league unbeaten in all competitions. He joined Impis (1998-2000), winning two Makerere 10’s titles and then joined Pirates.

Named Uganda 7s team captain in 1999 and won the nation her first ever Safari 7’s plate, beating Zimbabwe. In 2002, he was appointed the Cranes 15s captain and led it to the first ever away victory against Kenya, winning the Africa Cup tier 2 title. Wafula was forced out of test rugby in early 2003 due to an injury.

As a coach, he has handled Moi Airbase, Pirates, Impis, Kobs, Mongers and Mutoni Warriors and currently coaches Ezee Money Rhinos. He is also a member of the URU technical committee in charge of High Performance, a technical aisor and statistician to the Rugby Cranes. Wafula, an economist, is also the first Rugby Educator in East Africa and a Rugby columnist.

Victor Kalimugogo (Kobs): Arguably the best Flyhalf in Uganda’s rugby. Many rugby aficionados rate him above Edmond Tumusiime. He was also part of the Ugandan team that beat France at the Dubai 7s as well as a core of the 15s. He left for Australia on an Olympic scholarship in 2008.

Faisal Gama (Kobs): He got his 7s debut at the 1999 Safari 7s and played on until 2004. After winning eight league titles, one Uganda Cup, one 7s Circuit title and five Mak 10s with Kobs, he crossed to Heathens in 2006, where he has lifted six league titles, four Uganda Cups, six 7s Circuits and one Lions Cup. He currently works with Hima Lafarge as the Eastern, Northern Uganda and South Sudan Territory Sales Manager.

Kenneth Opito (Heathens): His career started at Impis which he later quit for Heathens. He is currently working with Tullow Oil.


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