LAST weekend, Rwanda’s men’s national rugby team, the Silverback took part in the prestigious Safaricom 7s, and against the odds, the team put on an impressive performance on its way to the Shield final where it lost to the more experienced Uganda hence settling for the runners-up spot.
It was Rwanda’s first silverware at the Safaricom 7s. A sign that better things are probably on the horizon.
The Silverbacks that joined the annual tournament on a wild card, was placed in Group A alongside hosts Kenya, Uganda and France’s Grenoble.
One should note that Rwanda’s rugby is a few years old. The 7s version of the game are even newer to rugby community here.
However, the defensive display and occasional flashes of brilliant attack, left many experienced referees and coaches in awe of Rwanda’s rugby potential.
“I expected the Rwandan team to have pace but I was amazed at their physical aspects too. You guys are the team to look out for in future tournaments,” Ugandan official, Martin Kasasira, said of the team.
The game one of the group stages pitted Rwanda against Uganda. The Rwandan team literally camped in the Ugandan 22 meters but the latter, owing to experience, scored twice in both halves in counter attacks leaving the Rwandan team with a sour taste in its mouth.
To cut the story short, Rwanda managed to beat Tanzania in the Shield semi-final 28-12 to set a possible revenge clash against Uganda. That was not to be as Uganda came better prepared and took the Shield trophy.
“After Rwanda’s display against Kenya and Mwamba, we really thought we were done for. We are honestly surprised we beat you,” Uganda’s experienced coach and former 7s player, John Musoke, was heard telling the Rwandan coach.
“Rwanda had the best defensive display….you just need to work on the finishing…you need a finisher (try scorer). The quality of Rwandan rugby has obviously improved tremendously,” a clearly impressed International Rugby Board (IRB) trainer, Stephen Ojambo advised the Rwandan team.
Rwanda rugby federation’s First vice president, Alex Araire, was full of praise of the young team.
“Many participating teams were congratulating us on the Silverbacks’ development in terms of improved quality of the game, players and a lot more,” Araire, who also acted as the Team Manager, said before calling on more commitment from the tournament organizers to invite Rwanda in as many events as possible.
“More tournaments mean more exposure and experience,” Araire said.
He also thanked Kampala Coach bus services for once again sponsoring the Silverbacks. It transported the team to and fro the tournament. The transport company has also been taking the team to the annual Jinja Nile 7s and Makerere rugby 10s held in Uganda.
“We just need a better local 7s calendar and more time with the 7s team…the team has great potential,” Rwanda’s 7s coach, Joseph Bugabo, said when asked on what needs to be done to bring better results.