Over the previous weeks we have had a look at a number of components that need to come together to bring our rugby up into the “90%-plus bracket”.
These have been largely external forces but there are still some gaps internally, specifically with the players themselves.
If you have ever watched one of the big sides playing an international, you will I am sure have noticed that when a player makes an error and gives away a free kick, a penalty or more seriously receives a yellow card, one or more of his team mates will run up, put a hand on his shoulder and offer a few words of encouragement. These words will basically be “Don’t worry, it was just a simple mistake, get back in amongst it”.
What you won’t ever see them do is chastise the already crestfallen player further, or enter into argument amongst themselves about the error. Doing thus just plays into the opposition’s hands, as nothing inspires an enemy more than seeing cracks appearing in their adversaries armour.
Continuing this on into the dressing room and thereafter is even more divisive and causes damaging splits in any team.
It is vital that no matter what backgrounds or parts of the country players emanate from, the team has to learn to bond into a seamless, cohesive unit, as unity is a vital component in rugby.
It is here too that a love and respect for the national flag becomes paramount and when any representative player runs out onto the pitch wearing the colours of their country, this should be one of the proudest moments of his or her life.
No rugby player ever owns their shirt or number (unlike some lesser sports that bizarrely “retire” numbers to recognize players!) and it’s as well to remember this; no matter how talented a player may happen to be there is always someone around the corner who wants to take that shirt from them.
Money comes and money goes; nothing can ever supplant the honour and joy of representing one’s country.
The current rugby Cranes are a hugely talented and able group of individuals.
Keep working on the unity, gather as a group under the Ugandan flag and above all go out there and enjoy yourselves.
You are all an indelible part of this country’s sporting history.
*Burley is a Ugandan-British dual national who has lived in Uganda for 30 years. He has worked in the tea, motoring, electrical power and mineral exploration industries and helped coach the Uganda Cranes when they first became African rugby champions. This column, as a one-off has run today, but check it out every Monday in our paper.