Last year, like the past two to three years before it, Remera Buffalo rugby club ruled the rugby terrain.
The rest of the Clubs that form the national rugby league always promised fire prior to the leagues. Unfortunately, their fire seemed just verbal. Talk of talking the walk but failing to walk the talk.
It proved impotent when they faced the might Buffaloes and crumbled at the mere sight of its jersey.
What I think killed the other teams when they faced the Buffaloes, was lack of preparation and too much talk of ‘we shall show you!’ This kind of biff only made the Buffaloes train harder knowing that all the teams were out there focused on it and only it.
So, as the other teams focused on beating the Buffaloes, the latter focused on beating all the other teams. In the end, Buffalo came out victor with minimal points against it.
So, why do I foresee fireworks this season? Many of the teams have not only recruited more players but are also training hard. This is the first off-season when teams have actually had their squads on the rugby grounds training regularly.
However, the fireworks might only be experienced during matches against Buffaloes as once again; Buffalo seems to be the opposition’s focus.
If this intensity can be taken to the other matches against each other, then truly, this is the season that will mark the turning point of Rwandan rugby.
Teams to watch out for include Nyamirambo’s Lions de fer, Gikondo based Sharks, Huye based National University of Rwanda’s Grizzlies.
The new teams such as Rulindo’s Tumba College Jaguars and Muhanga RFC are expected to acquire more experience this year. They will probably both want to beat Kamonyi’s Pumas.
All teams will try to wrest the Buffalo 7s rugby trophy from the hosts who seem to just bring out to tantalize the rest as it eventually is still taken to its trophy cabinet.
I understand Buffalo is already out there searching for sponsorship in order to put up a magnificent tournament come 21st January 2012.
According to Buffalo’s management, it hopes to make this annual tournament international in the class of the Safaricom 7s.
Looking at the large and ever growing crowds during the fast paced and entertaining 7s tourney; this dream might be realized sooner than later if corporate sponsorship comes on board.
More 7s tournaments are lined up for 2012. These include the Sharks 7s, Lions de fer Women’s Day 7s and a host of other 7s tournaments.
National 15s League
Last year, Inyange Industries lit up the national league with a package of over Rwf 10million in form of milk, juice and water. Hopefully, it will come in bigger this year with let’s say jerseys for all the league teams.
Two years ago, BCR provided the league and national team with very high quality rugby jerseys. We thought, this was it!!! However, that seemed the last rugby heard from BCR but their jerseys still live on and they definitely remind us of a friend we had in BCR!
If the national 15s league can get a corporate sponsor and a home ground, then Rwandan rugby will rise to the likes of neighbours Uganda and Kenya in the nearer future.
The quality of play is not far behind but a more vibrant local league should surely propel the game further. 2012, with the way teams are gearing up for it, should see some corporate sponsors on board.
Referees and Coaches
The national federation should also utilise the over 30 IRB Level 1 referees and coaches during this season. Many of these are left redundant yet they could use these local games to gain vital experience.
No one learns without making mistakes. Let these young men and women be given matches to officiate and teams to coach this season. With each passing match, they will have gained the much needed experience.
And before you know it, they could be called up for further training and eventually even handle international engagements.
Back to the 2012 season, fans should expect more entertainment, teams should train harder knowing they are being scrutinised and you the reader should get some time to actually come witness and enjoy this awe inspiring team sport.
The author is a rugby player and trainer