Silverbacks ready for Hong Kong 10s

RWANDA’S rugby national rugby team, Silverbacks are confident of displaying improved perfomance ahead of their debut in the Hong Kong 10s scheduled to be held at Hong Kong Football Club from March 20-21.
Silverbacks displaying their trademark celebrations in a CAR tournament last year at Amahoro stadium. The New Times / T. Kisambira
Silverbacks displaying their trademark celebrations in a CAR tournament last year at Amahoro stadium. The New Times / T. Kisambira

RWANDA’S rugby national rugby team, Silverbacks are confident of displaying improved perfomance ahead of their debut in the Hong Kong 10s scheduled to be held at Hong Kong Football Club from March 20-21.

Team captain Benjamin Akami Makombe who will lead the national team for the Asian tour on Saturday told Times Sport yesterday that they are ready and eager to take Rwandan rugby to the next level.

“We expect a tough outing since this will be our first time competing in the 10s tournament. But nevertheless, we are ready for the challenge and we believe, we will stage a positive perfomance,”

“We need victories in all our matches and our mission is to go for the title. We are confident, we can overturn the tables and write a new history for our country,” added the skilled fast runner Makombe who will be making his fourth tour to Hong Kong with the Silverbacks.

The team which has been managed by acting coach, player and former Uganda MTN Heathens player Allan Amin Otim locally, will be under the guidance of former Scotland coach Gordon Hadden who is expected to give them a few preparation and tactical tips once they reach Hong Kong.

The 15-man final team has been beefed up with former Uganda MTN Heathens player Jonan Manzi who brings his vast experience in the scrums and ruck; Ivan Makmot at scrum half and Lucien Bikamba at fly half are some of the other players Rwanda will be counting on.

Some of the other players include; Jean Baptist Itanzi who is a tight head prop. His experience which dates back to 2003 should be vital for the Silverbacks.

Julien Nshimiyimana as a lanky lock who will also be vital in the line outs, scrums and his mobility will be vital in support play.

Olivier Nikwigize is a talented flanker and as a number 8, he is a natural assassin. With his improved fitness levels, he is likely to have his name on the score board.

Didier Kamanzi, Koko Marcel Cambara, Phillippe Mana and Aimé Ndahirwa should operate like well oiled machines to get the ball to the try line. They have played together for so long, their communication should be telepathic.

The Silverbacks have appeared for the last three years in the Kowloon RugbyFest, getting to the second-tier Plate final in their 2010 debut and then reaching the main Cup semi-finals in each of their next two visits.

The 16-team HKFC Tens which will feature players with Rugby World Cup, Super Rugby and IRB Sevens experience is going to be a massive challenge for a country where rugby is still in its teething stage.

The Silverbacks have been drawn against top seed BGC Asia Pacific All Stars, newcomers YCAC of Japan and A-Trade Overseas Old Boys in Pool A of the tournament.

Silverbacks depart for Hong Kong on Saturday to acclimatise ahead of their opening game against the Cup defenders All Stars on March 20.

Silverbacks team: Benjamin Akami Makombe (captain), Jean Baptista Itanzi, Olivier Nikwigize, Phillippe Mana, Didier Kamanzi, Julien Nshimiyimana, Jean Leonard Twizeyimana, Lucien Bikamba, Moise Habumugisha, Ivan Makmot, Aime Ndahirwa, Marcel Koko Cyambara, Allan Amin Otim, Vincent Kamali and Enock Muhire [team manager].

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