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Odongo denies player rift with rugby union over wages

By Charles Mutebi

Added 4th August 2016 03:47 PM

Uganda’s Tier 1A campaign ended with a 45-24 loss in Kenya

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Brian Odong bursts through the Kenyan defence during the first leg of the Elgon Cup. Photo by Mpalanyi Ssentongo

Uganda’s Tier 1A campaign ended with a 45-24 loss in Kenya

Rugby Cranes captain Brian Odongo has strongly rebuffed reports Uganda players have not been paid following their three-game Rugby Africa Tier 1A campaign. 

“I can categorically say we don’t demand the Union any money,” Odongo told New Vision in an interview. 

“You wonder where people are getting information that we are owed money. I don’t think they can produce a document on what we agreed with the federation and prove that we have not been paid” he added. 

Uganda’s impressive Tier 1A, which ended with a 45-24 loss in Kenya on Saturday, has been dogged by rumours and social media allegations of unfulfilled financial obligations from the Uganda Rugby Union (URU) to the players. 

It’s alleged that the URU first went back on its agreement with Cranes players that the reward for home games will be $150 (around sh505,000) or and $250 (sh840,000) for away fixtures, changing it to sh150,000 and sh250,000 for home and away engagements respectively. 

Further, even the reduced amount reportedly doesn’t come in time, creating a scenario where the Union is said to owe millions of player allowances. It’s this unfriendly working environment that is blamed for the recent resignation of senior players like Scot Olouch, Alex Mubiru, Mathias Ochwo, and Denis Mulo from national duty. 

But Odongo argued that, “I think that story is being blown out of proportion,” which of course confirms that there is an actual problem, whether or not the players have been paid their Tier 1A dues. 

The URU received sh181m from Nile Special to facilitate the Tier 1A campaign and reports of financial trouble may come as a surprise to the sponsor.

Still, like every amateur sport, Ugandan rugby exists in a world of constant money trouble, where no money means no activity and some money means some progress with financial scandals.

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