- Rugby. The 31-20 Uganda Cup final victory for the Sea Robbers against Hima Cement Heathens was a catalyst of what the rugby fraternity have witnessed since last November. Before that Pirates had not figured out how to win.
The podium erected at Legends Rugby Club was too small to accommodate Buzz Pirates as they celebrated their first Nile Special Rugby Premiership title last Saturday.
A week after they sealed the crown with a 48-5 rout of Jinja Hippos, Pirates delivered the exclamation mark, defeating rivals Betway Kobs 27-12.
Satisfied with their achievement, one by one, they squeezed onto the tiny stage. Drenched in sweat from the game and on pitch celebrations, Pirates had their medals placed around their necks.
A day that started with Kobs giving Pirates a guard of honour as they made their way on to the slightly overgrown Legends’ grass on a sunny afternoon, ended in a mighty dance.
It was a humbling and respectful moment for Kobs. Such moments hurt more than the game itself.
With the DJ playing Kenyan hit single - Chapa/Fimbo Ya Pili NYeNYeNYe by Grandpa Family ft DNA – Pirates entertained themselves. They entertained the crowd more.
We still don’t know how that podium stayed intact with the magnitude of what was exerted on it. Perhaps, it was in as much pain as Marvin Odongo’s two tries which defined Pirates’ victory over Kobs.
Signs of winning
The podium held its own more than Kobs did, especially in the second half where they were blown away by Pirates’ sheer will to do more than just a double over them.
Kobs lost the first round derby 28-11. No one was more deserving of this title than Pirates. It took 10 years to add to their 2007 Uganda Cup diadem. They reclaimed that Cup last year.
That 31-20 result against Hima Cement Heathens was definitely a catalyst of what we have witnessed since last November. Over time, Pirates had not figured out how to win.
In the past, it was often a case of so near yet so far for rugby’s nearly men. Such teams just need one break to bury the ‘curse’.
Once they sprung the door open against Heathens, it seemed inevitable that a major crown was on the way.
Kinene & Etuket
Under the previous executive headed by George Mbalu, the club went for quick fixes to emerge from the shadow Kobs and Heathens.
This often involved hiring ‘mercenaries’ from here and Kenya. The club’s technical director/coach Sam Ahamya stirred the ship often. He has since taken a back seat.
It never worked. Four years ago, they ditched this short cut thanks to Anthony Kinene and Denis Etuket, the latter still active, who went back to schools to fish for talent.
This schools’ policy has been critical and called for undesired patience.
Etuket has been at this club for the past 13 years and has played a major part of the scouting and stability when Pirates were sinking.
In the immediate aftermath, Pirates survived relegation by a whisker in 2015 before results started to turn around a year later.
Depth & camaraderie
Their depth amid strife, courage, and some more, has shone through.
All this was then solidified by coach Bobby Musinguzi, trusted by Ahamya to run the show, who has only had his captain Odongo feature in only three games this season due to injury.
They hardly missed Odongo, arguably one of the best players in Uganda today. The younger players came through.
Odongo’s deputy, Ivan Magomu, was also away for the climax. None of this has affected them as Pirates have sliced the opposition apart. Wing Raymond Emanzi, eighth man Desire Ayera-Ruhweza, flank Musa Muwonge have been outstanding and tireless.
If you attended their training, they always had numbers that the opposition lack.
With so many young players within the same age group, Pirates share a lot in common and do bond in so many ways beyond match days.
Leaders and talent
In Etuket, Pirates have a gem of a person. Even if his minutes have been trimmed as quickly as his speed, his leadership is huge.
Odongo and Magomu have drunk from his cup and imparted the same into the entire team. However, this leadership would count for nothing without talent.
This team is loaded with talent, the best talent in Ugandan rugby. Odongo is best eighth man. Magomu is the best fly-half. Few can match Muwonge on the back row.
Full back Thomas Kisiga is the best player coming through the ranks. Conrad Wanyama has been stellar at scrumhalf. Misunguzi hardly made a wrong call all season.
Hunger for more
Having got what they badly wanted, it would be ‘fine’ for Pirates to take their foot off the gas. No one would expect them to go on from here.
Quietly, they have designs on a sustained period of success starting with trying to win the national 7s title and retaining the Uganda Cup.
“We currently have 10 players in the 7s set up and that should be sufficient to compete this year,” Etuket told Score.
It’s petrifying to imagine what this team can do from here on as they look significantly fitter than the rest and tend to blow away teams in the second half of games. For now, plaudits are befitting. Congratulations!
ROLL OF HONOURS