Uganda’s lan Munyani in action .(pic by the Rubby Union )
For Rugby lovers, telling the whole story is no doubt pertinent, but for those passionate about marketing destination Uganda, this tournament presents a grave opportunity. The news of Uganda’s impressive show in Uruguay is worth the detail, and a report by the African Press Organisation brought with it said details. From the inaugural first March against Jamaica to the last against Zimbabwe; here is the account, match for the match!
Uganda got off to a nightmare start during the second leg of the World Rugby Challenger series in Uruguay when they lost 2 pool games to drop to the 9th place quarter-final but showed great mental strength to win all their games on day 2 to finish 9th in Uruguay. Uganda kicked off their day against Jamaica and barely had possession the entire game. Jamaica scored one try in the first half but missed the conversion to go into the halftime break 5 points ahead.
The second half started pretty much as the first with Jamaica holding onto possession but without anything to show for it. That all changed after Philip Wokorach received a yellow card midway the second half for a late shoulder charge and Jamaica capitalized on their numerical advantage to score an unconverted try and held on to keep Uganda scoreless and ran out 10-00 winners.
Uganda met Brazil in their second game and drew first blood after Ian Munyani plucked the ball out of the air as a Brazilian desperately tried to juggle an offload and sprinted for the try line before being hauled down barely a meter short. The ball was recycled to Pius Ogena who powered over and Philip Wokorach made good with the conversion. Brazil struck back with an unconverted try in the 4th minute but Michael Wokorach scored 2 minutes later after a strong 30-meter run.
Philip Wokorach added another 2 points to take the score to 14-05 and a last-ditch try-saving tackle by Solomon Okia ensured that Uganda went into halftime 9 points clear. A beautiful break by Aaron Ofoyrwoth off the base of the scrum to run 80 meters had Uganda breathing more easily and despite Brazil scoring a converted try in the last minute of the game, it ended at 19-12 and Uganda bagged their first win in Uruguay.
Hong Kong suffocated Uganda of possession in Chile and did the same in Uruguay but made better use of their possession this time. Hong Kong scored 2 converted tries within the first 3 minutes of the game and after Philip Wokorach got a yellow card for slapping the ball forward, Hong Kong ran in 2 more converted tries to take the game out of Uganda’s reach at halftime. Uganda had a good start to the second half after a Hong Kong player was sin-binned for preventing Uganda from taking a quick tap, Uganda made use of their extra player and a strong run from Nobert Okeny and a great offload to Michael Wokorach released him to score. Unfortunately, Aaron Ofoyrwoth received a yellow card for a high tackle and Hong Kong scored 2 more unconverted tries before Nobert Okeny pulled back a try in the corner on the hooter and Philip Wokorach nailed a beautiful touchline conversion to make the final score slightly more respectable at 38-12.
Pius Ogen on trackle (pic by Rugby union )
Uganda finished day 1 third in their pool and dropped to the 9th place quarter-final where they met Paraguay. In order to finish in the overall top 8 and qualify for the World Series qualifier tournament. Uganda had to finish 9th in Uruguay and hope for other results from other teams to go their way. Uganda showed their intent against Paraguay and despite a late second-half yellow card to Michael Wokorach for a high tackle, Uganda ran in 8 tries with Aaron Ofoyrwoth scoring 2 while Pius Ogena, William Nkore, Desire Ayera, Michael Wokorach, Isaac Massanganzira, and Levis Ocen bagging one each. William Nkore converted the first try and Philip Wokorach converting the remaining 7 for a 100% conversion rate. Paraguay managed one try and one conversion in the first half but did not threaten Uganda beyond that so the final score was 56-07 to book a date with Papua New Guinea in the 9th place semifinal.
The 9th place semifinal was a tight affair with PNG scoring and converting in the first 2 minutes.
Uganda struck back straight away through a Pius Ogena break from deep in the Ugandan half and Philip Wokorach added the extras to tie the game. Solomon Okia danced out of a couple of tackles to add a try in the 5th minute and Philip Wokorach also got over the whitewash after the halftime hooter to take the score to 17-07. PNG came out of the blocks faster in the second half and took advantage of lax Ugandan defending to score 2 tries, one of which was converted, to go into a narrow 2 point lead. Isaac Massanganzira, lurking on the wing, was the beneficiary of a long pass from Aaron Ofoyrwoth to score with 3 minutes left on the clock for Uganda to regain the lead and they hung on to win 22-19.
The 9th place final between Uganda and Zimbabwe was a fantastic comeback story with Uganda getting on the score sheet first after Pius Ogena smuggled himself over the try line in the corner despite the close attention of 2 Zimbabweans in the opening minutes of the game. Zimbabwe scored a try of their own shortly after to tie the game. Uganda lost Isaac Massanganzira to the sin bin after a tip tackle and combined Uganda’s woes at receiving the kickoffs this proved costly.
Solomon Okia to a nice finish !(picture by Rugby union
Zimbabwe scored 2 converted tries and looked to be running away with the game with the score at 19-05 at halftime. Solomon Okia took advantage of the extra space on pitch as a Zimbabwe player sat in the sin bin and started Uganda’s comeback in the second half after he rounded the defense line and showed a clean pair of heels to score a try under the posts that was duly converted by Philip Wokorach. Zimbabwe responded a minute later with an unconverted try but Uganda was not done yet and Michael Wokorach and Philip Wokorach both ran 60 meters to score and Philip Wokorach converted both tries to edge Zimbabwe 26-24 and finish in 9th place. Uganda and Zimbabwe tied at 19 series points after both legs with Uganda finishing 7th overall and Zimbabwe 8th overall for both teams to qualify for the World Series qualifiers.