Friday, August 14, 2009

Test Rugby: Elgon Cup Kenya v Uganda

Kenya v Uganda in Nairobi (Elgin Cup, 1st leg)

Venue: Rugby Football Union of East Africa (RFUEA) grounds

elgon cup-poster 2009
Poster thanks to Fred Ollows, Kenya RFU.

The Elgon Cup is played for annually by Kenya and Uganda. Played over two legs, the team with the highest aggregate takes the Trophy. At present it is held by Kenya. Mt Elgon straddles the Kenya-Uganda border.

Strangely, this trophy is being played for after the main hustle and bustle of competitive African rugby. In the past the first leg was used as a warm-up to African Cup matches, with the second leg played later.

Last year Uganda qualified for the finals of both the World Cup African qualifiers and of the African Cup. In the final this year they faced Tunisia, for the first time, home and away, and were outclassed by their northern foes. Kenya failed to qualify last year and found themselves one tier lower than their western neighbours, playing for the 'African Trophy' in Safi, the Moroccan tourist resort. They lost 11-29 to Morocco in the final.

So neither Uganda nor Kenya come into this match with the heady reputations they built in 2005 and 2006. Both will be out to prove a point-supremacy of East African rugby. Kenya has fared better than Uganda in this tussle in the past, even when Uganda has been, as per 2008, superior in other aspects of African rugby. Much must be made of home ground advantage, a major factor in these test matches.

Kenya women play Uganda women in the curtain-raiser.

Previous Encounters
16.08.2008 Kenya 39-20 in Nairobi (Elgon Cup, 2nd leg)
24.05.2008 Uganda 20-3 in Kampala (Elgon Cup, 1st leg)
26.08.2007 Uganda 24-12 in Antananaviro (CAR Africa Cup, Semi-final)
11.08.2007 Kenya 35-15 in Nairobi (Elgon Cup 2nd leg)
26.05.2007 Uganda 29-10 in Kampala (Elgon Cup, 1st leg)

GWC Rugby Rankings: Africa Table-Uganda 4th, Kenya 7th

Prediction: Kenya by 5 points


Kenya Squad
Dennis Abenga (Nakuru RFC)
Biko Adema (Nondescripts RUFC)
Patrice Agunda (Kenya Harlequin FC)
Edwin Alubaka (Kenya Commercial Bank)
Andrew Amonde (Kenya Commercial Bank)
Lavin Asego (Mwamba RFC)
Michael Aung, Capt. (Nondescripts RUFC)
Naftaly Bondo (Kenya Harlequin FC)
Charles Kanyi (Nondescripts RUFC)
Daniel Kiptoo (Kenya Harlequin FC)
Wilson Kopondo (Mean Machine)
Vincent Mose (Impala RFC)
Peter Mutai (Kenya Commercial Bank)
Joel Ng'ang'a (Kenya Harlequin FC)
Victor Oduor (Kenya Harlequin FC)
Paul Oimbo (Impala RFC)
Vincent Ong'era (Kenya Harlequin FC)
Allan Onyango (Kenya Harlequin FC)
Anthony Ogot (Kenya Commercial Bank)
Horace Otieno (Mwamba)
Nato Simiyu (Impala RFC)
Dan Weku (Impala RFC)
Head Coach: Michael Otieno

Ronald Adigasi (Entebbe Mongers)
Eric Butime
Dennis Etuket (G4S Pirates)
Brain Jjemba
Paul Kabazzi
Lenny Kikonyogo
Joel Kimuli (G4S Pirates)
Athony Kinene (G4S Pirates)
Benon Kizza
Allan Matsiko (UTL Kobs)
Solomon Mawanda (G4S Pirates) Aged 21
Alex Mubiru (MTN Heathens)
Ronald Mwisaka (MTN Heathens) Aged 27
Oscar Ochulu
Mathias Ochwo (MTN Heathens) Aged 27
Brain Odong (UTL Kobs)
Romano Ogwal
Jonathan Onen
Scot Oluoch
Robert Sseguya (MTN Heathens)
Moses Soita (Capt)
Michael Wokorach (MTN Heathens)
Head Coach: Yayiro Musisi Kasasa

Other comments on the game


"Both the Kenya Rugby Football Union and the Uganda Rugby Union have decided to go on with the planned Elgon Cup fixtures despite the untimely withdrawal of East African Breweries as the sponsor for the matches. This leaves the two unions to dig deep into their pockets to foot the expenses to be incurred. The players may also have to forego some of the comfort they are accustomed to during such assignments. The Women's teams from both countries are also scheduled to curtain raise for the Men and this increases the expenses. Both unions will now rely heavily on the gate takings to offset the costs. As such we must all turn out in large numbers to support the teams on both sides of Migingo the border.

It is good that an experienced sevens trio have got the back row job. They should use their superior fitness, one on one tackling skills and advanced ball contesting experience to make every break down a nightmare for the Ugandans (I wish). The mid-field pairing is interesting.. I have doubts as to how Agunda will weather the rush defence and ruthless tackling the Ugandan backs are famed for, but let's give him the benefit of the doubt. Adema should combine well with Mose from the back and either of his wingers. If only the two used some brain at times and not just brawn, they may cause a nightmare for the Ugandans out wide. Asego's control and position finding will be key as well as his ability to move the ball quickly into space from congested areas.

The forwards battle will be mighty and I think will be drawn between the two sides. I don't think the forwards are very imaginative save for "go to Kiptoo" so we expect a lot of that. And the South African influence on the Ugandan game will also make that their preferred route. There will be no mixing of play between the forwards and the backs, the players either completely unwilling to comprehend such tactics or the technical team unable to translate it for them. So expect to see a lot of staccato play interspersed with sheer moments of brilliance from the backs".

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