Ugandan Women complete task
Sevens as well
What a week for women’s rugby it has been here in East Africa! After convincing wins in the XVs code the previous Saturday by the As and then again last Wednesday evening by the B’s, the Kyadondo Rugby Club Women’s A side has cleaned up, quite literally, at the 2nd Kyadondo International Women’s Sevens Tournament here in Kampala over the weekend, with a solid 19-0 victory over visiting Brown A of Pennsylvania in the main Cup final, with Kyadondo B also emerging victorious in the Plate competition.
This one-day women’s tournament, one of only two scheduled for the whole of Africa this year it is believed, was held on Saturday 1 April at the Kyadondo Club grounds in the centre of busy Kampala and saw seven sides enter the fray, with entries from Rwanda, Kenya, the USA and hosts Uganda all taking part. Unfortunately, Zimbabwe, not altogether surprisingly considering the state of that country’s economy at present, cried off citing financial woes, and South Africa, also invited, opted not to send any teams either.
With the day devoted to the women’s tournament by the crowds (an important men’s league game being played on the second pitch was almost completely devoid of spectators) Kyadondo A started the proceedings at 1pm against local Kampala Rugby Club adversaries, the Black Panthers. Fifteen minutes later and a definitive 39-0 display of Sevens superiority was on the scoreboard, with the usual suspects, Christine Kizito, Asha Sonko and Rachael Kakaire amongst others in fine, free-scoring form.
Rwanda side the Silverbacks and Mwamba from Kenya both sprung surprises with comfortable wins over the American B side and local hosts Kyadondo’s Junior B team. The spanking of the day was the 57-0 rout by Kyadondo A of the Brown B girls, though it has to be acknowledged that Brown actually play very little Sevens rugby at home.
So, to the first of the finals, with a 20 minute local-derby clash between rivals Black Panthers and Kyadondo B, the host side emerging 14-5 victors of the Plate competition.
Brown A emerged as victors against a spirited Mwamba attack in the first of the Cup semis, and were thus again destined to meet their week-long nemesis, Kyadondo A, in the final, who had battled to a 15-5 win over the hard-charging Rwandans from Kigali.
Both sides were by now exhausted after a tough week of highly competitive rugby but, with the tropical sun dropping over the yardarm to the west, when the whistle went for the start, aches, pains and fatigue were forgotten in the final 20 minutes’ quest for glory.
The USA had come too far to glibly give up the opportunity of a first win and the local side had an unblemished record to defend in front of their home fans. The perfect scenario for everyone to give of their all. Stellar performances from Uganda’s Rachael Kakaire, notching up her seventh (and record) try of the tournament, prop Lillian Ikulumet battling away like the warrior she is in the pack and American utility back Stephanie Bruce, scorer of six tries herself and a number of conversions and penalties, later to be deservedly awarded Player of the Tournament and in the view of many a knowledgeable head arguably the most complete woman player they have seen, were a joy to watch. The Americans were unable to find that last bit of gas they needed and three unanswered tries (and two conversions from the irrepressible Kakaire) later, it was all over, with Brown destined to collect their third consecutive runners-up trophy of the week, the frustration of this tempered somewhat maybe by Bruce’s terrific individual performance and resulting award.
After the match the now-familiar trophy table beckoned and a final big cheer went up for a very gallant, battling touring side when they raised their plaque, a team who have been a pleasure to host and a pleasure to watch playing. As for the Kyadondo women, their part in the Americans tour officially over, a further step in their extraordinary battle for global rugby recognition had been taken; their 100% record remaining intact, their reputations still further enhanced. To the all-female Ugandan committee who organised this tour, Jackie, Jero and Irene, a huge vote of congratulation must be given for pulling off an event that has changed so many women’s lives, not least of all here in Uganda, where sporting opportunities on the big stage so rarely come along for the fairer sex. The question for the Ugandan women now is, what next? Well, plans are afoot………
No rugby match would be complete without the out-takes – the little bits of film footage of bared flesh or idiotic behaviour that alert and awake cameramen try to get past the producer before he can switch screens to beat the censor – and there were a couple in this match. They centred on a small group of very vocal supporters on the opposite side of the pitch to the club house, who had clearly had a pint or two of Worthybrew’s Olde Loude Mouth Soupe during their obviously extensive, pre-match preparations. These lads had toddled in to the ground early on, straight from last night’s party by the looks of them, laid claim to the top row of one of the steel stands and proceeded to shout, cheer, sing, bang on the stands’ steel sheets and generally enjoy themselves immensely, whatever happened, and
sometimes even when nothing happened. Wearing a mix of Stars and Stripes t-shirts, a Union Jack pair of underpants a-la-boxer it looked like, and a most eclectic mix of various East African flags, caps and paraphernalia, at one point these lads heralded their American heroines with a (fairly dreadful it must be said) rendition of Boney M’s Brown Girl in the Rain, to the great amusement of the crowd, made even funnier as rain was about as likely as a tidal wave that day! At the end of the trophy presentation, their contribution to the day was acknowledged over the PA, to which they took a collective, if slightly shaky, bow … it could only be rugby.
So, one XV’s match to go on Sunday, the last of this excellent tour but not officially involving a Uganda side this time, to be played between Brown and the Mwamba side from Kenya at Kyadondo at 5 p.m.. From what’s been seen of the two sides, a difficult one to call. ‘Till tomorrow then.
Kyadondo A (Uganda)
Rwanda Silverbacks (Rwanda)
Black Panthers (Uganda)
Brown University B (USA)
Mwamba Invaders (Kenya)
Brown University A (USA)
Kyadondo B (Uganda)
Kyadondo A vs Mwamba, 24-0
Brown A vs Rwanda, 15-5
ondo B vs Black Panthers, 14-5
Main Cup Final
Kyadondo A vs Brown A, 19-0
Winners: Kyadondo A
Runners-up: Brown A
Most Tries Scored trophy: (7) Rachael Kakaire (Uganda)
Player of the Tournament trophy: Stephanie Bruce (Brown)
All match officials provided by Uganda Referees’ Society
Final refereed by Foxy Ojambo
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