Edmond Tumusiime is often remembered for his smart brain with the oval-shaped rugby ball. His peers, opponents and coaches often agree that he is perhaps the best fly-half Uganda has produced.
Tumusiime, then 24, retired from the national team in 2008. Besides the hunger for the game fading, the feud between his club, Betway Kobs, and the Uganda Rugby Union (URU) pushed many of his comrades over the edge.
Tumusiime made a return to the game in 2011. The spirit and brain were willing to the take the ‘beating’, not the body.
He spoke to this newspaper about one of major challenges of the game and those remain today.
“Our biggest problem as an amateur sport is that it’s tough to keep everyone and select the same team for four years,” Tumusiime said.
“Someone might go away to build a career or even opt to go the village and dig, you cannot stop that,” the telecom engineer added.
This statement mirrors so many of those perfect offloads and passes that went from Tumusiime to the centre pairing of Tony Luggya and Timothy Mudoola for wing Allan Musoke to touchdown.
So often, when URU has come out hard on discipline, the results have been counterproductive as players decide to walk away from the game entirely.
This article is not intended to make an excuse for any ‘convict’ but the incident involving Mutoni Warriors’ Zeno Owora Othieno needs a bit of perspective.
Prior to last Saturday, the flank hadn’t appeared in any significant story.
Then, his team refused to play their Nile Special Uganda Cup quarterfinal against Hima Cement Heathens because of him.
URU suspended Othieno for pouring beer on the Namibian team manager during the Africa Cup 1B tournament played here in June.
Warriors face a one-year ban from the knock-out tournament whereas Othieno is now set to serve a 24-month ban. However, if Otheino survives this and plays on, he will have broken the rule. In 2013, Kobs’ hooker James Kimono was banned for nine months for attacking a referee.
He left the game entirely.
Back in the early 90s, Moses Umah Tete, a player at the time, got a life ban for slapping Jack Chagga, then a referee, during a tournament in Jinja.
Lock Victor Wadia, eighth man Steven Ogwete and coach Fred Mudoola served bans ranging from months to two years for an altercation with a referee back in 2008, something that soiled Kobs.
Of all these, only Wadia has played on after serving his time. You cannot bet on Othieno following the amiable Wadia but rather Kimono, Ogwete et al. Where will URU draw the line soon? Isn’t punishment meant to a reform?