By Uganda Rugby Union
The Lady Cranes made Uganda proud last week with massive wins over the Zimbabwe Sables in a two-game due. The first game was played last Wednesday with Uganda registering a comfortable 41-0. Sunday saw them replicate their earlier form with a 34-3 over the same opponents at Kyadondo Rugby Grounds.
The two wins have come with a breath of fresh air, no wonder Uganda was World Rugby’s biggest movers from 39th to 31 according to the latest World Rankings. The side had also last registered a win in 2013 when they beat Kenya 13-8 in the return leg of the Elgon Cup at Kyadondo Rugby Club. The 2019 Elgon Cup in Kisumu and Kampala was the test side’s first taste of action since 2015 when they lost the Elgon Cup 11-12 on aggregate.
The four-year lull stagnated the women’s game with only the sevens side active. After losing twice, 35-5 and 43-15, to the Kenya Lionesses in the 2019 Elgon Cup, they left for South Africa where they lost their World Cup Qualifiers games. South Africa humbled them 89-7, Kenya overpowered them 37-5 before Madagascar compounded the misery with a close 15-5 loss.
Since then, Coaches Leo Lubambula and Kigongo Sebalamu have shaped things by realigning the Lady Cranes set up. New players and a new captain in Peace Lekuru surrounded with lots of talents in the likes of Samiya Ayikoru, Emily Lekuru, Faith Namugga, Grace Auma, Gloria Ayot and many others. The old guard of Winnie Atyang, Charlotte Mudoola and Asha Nakityo has helped with leadership and experience. The side is operating as a unit and old blame games have been put to bed, it’s time to produce results. The wins over Zimbabwe have given the Lady Cranes ground to build on ahead of future engagements. The Elgon Cup remains in balance but should it stand, The Ladies have a chance to play and test themselves against a side they have not beaten in the last eight meetings.
The side looked fit and hungry while the set pieces especially the scrum looked good, thanks to Brian Makalama who chips in with some knowledge on the play. The line out and other aspects can get better with time. After years of lagging, the Lady Cranes are up and running waiting for the next task after humbling Zimbabwe.
”First and foremost, Uganda is so lucky to be playing international rugby amidst this lockdown. Thanks to the government for making this possible. About the girls performance; winning two games against Zimbabwe women has been a great achievement on our side. I’m pleased the girls had a brilliant experience in the two games. In the first game, you saw they got excited with the dominance and forgot about the game model.Getting into the second game, they expected a harder game than the first but I’m happy they followed our plan. We polished our line-outs and scrums as evident in the game.”- Coach Leonard Lubambula
World Rugby Ranking
”Our two wins have pushed us 8 positions ahead. We were ranked 39 and as we talk now we are 31. It is a very good achievement and we shouldn’t look down at it. It is going to take effort and a lot of investment to either maintain or get better ranking. Our target is to qualify for the World Cup in 2025. We want to be at least a second tier nation by 2023 ”