By Johnson Were
Uganda 19 Ivory Coast 22
TUNISIA - Despite putting up a good fight, the Rugby Cranes succumbed to a 19-22 defeat to Ivory Coast, a team that has little rugby history compared to Uganda.
The defeat dented Uganda’s intentions of returning to the elite class of the Continental rugby (CAR tier 1A) and sent a strong message to the Rugby Union that it is time to start implementing the development structures on paper that are just kept in the cupboards.
Coach Peter Magona tried to inspire his side, but the boys’ ability was still wanting especially with the neglected players conditioning at club level and national team level compared to their hard and more muscular West African opponents.
The Cranes had trailed 9-7 by half time but came back with more spirit, battling their rivals to gain a 19-17 lead with five minutes to the final whistle.
But Magona saw his men crumble and fail to handle the pressure, which saw them conceding a try that handed their resilient opponents a 22-19 victory.
The defeat puts Uganda to a tough test as they are likely to face the loser between Senegal and hosts Tunisia in the relegation battle to tier 1C.
The stakes are high, and there is reputation to fight for. Defeat in Saturday’s tie means Cranes will be relegated to CAR Tier 1C that will require more two years to fight back to the elite group CAR 1A that Uganda featured in just last year.
To avoid relegation, Coach Magona has to concoct a winning formula for the Saturday showdown to save the country’s reputation as a once Africa champion.
Rugby Cranes forced back to the drawing board