In sports we all hope and wish ourselves ‘next time better’ or even the best. National Seven’s Cranes Rugby Head Coach Tolbert Onyango is one sportsman who always believes in posting the better or the best results every time he goes out for an assignment with his boys. Asked by World Rugby, Onyango looked up and then gave his side of what the World Rugby Seven’s Challenger Series could bring on the pitch for him.
Most importantly, Onyango notes that his side will carry the promise that the just concluded Commonwealth Games in UK, Birmingham gave to his team going into the international 7’s. Uganda are one of 12 men’s teams who have arrived in Santiago, Chile, bidding to secure their place as a core team on the 2023 Series. Onyango is hopeful his side’s experience at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games can act as a catalyst to success at the Challenger Series.
Qualification for the Series would not only be the culmination of five years’ hard work but would “change everything” for aspiring male Sevens` players in Uganda. “It would create a pathway for the young players who are picking up the sport,” Onyango told World Rugby. Although the defeat to England in their final match confirmed a 10th-place finish for the Cranes Sevens, it was only their second loss in Birmingham. “We were happy with the results and where we ended up – 10th. By the time it was the last game, playing against England, we were pretty off our feet. The guys were aching and tired. But good results all round.”
The common wealth was largely good to have a tournament for Cranes Rugby Seven’s viewed as good preps for the Challenger series. However, Uganda appears to have been given a daunting task, lining up in Pool `C` alongside Germany and Uruguay, who each finished in the top five of the inaugural Challenger Series, standings two years ago, and Lithuania. Germany beat Uganda 19-12 at the 2020 Challenger Series event in Viña del Mar. This was their fourth consecutive victory in the fixture since their first meet in 2017.
Having come so close to securing a memorable victory against Australia last month, how confident is Onyango that Uganda can emerge from Pool C this weekend and win the Challenger Series? “It’s about getting out of our pool and getting to the top eight,” Onyango insists. “Getting to the top eight will be our priority. The World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series acts as a promotion pathway for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series,” he asserts.
The tournament replicates the Olympic Games competition format, with the 12 teams drawn into three pools. The top two from each as well as the two best third-placed finishers will qualify for the knockout stages. The 2022 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series is scheduled to be played at Estadio Santa Laura in Santiago, Chile between 12-14 August. Pool B will consist of Hong Kong, Tonga, Jamaica and Zimbabwe, while Pool C contains Germany, Uruguay, Uganda and Lithuania.
- Mr. Daniels N. Tatya is an affluent Sports Writer, Commentator and Editor. His over 15 years of covering almost major sporting events makes him a revered and an authority on investigative Sports journalism in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected] +256(0)758268315
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