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Wednesday,August 05,2020 07:49 AM

Rugby: Best players of the past decade

By Johnson Were

Added 7th January 2020 01:37 PM

It is a testament to the character and talent of the fullback that he bounced back to reach unfathomable heights both in the 15s and sevens, with individual accolades in both formats becoming the norm and World Cup appearance in the sevens format the ultimate reward for his brilliance.

It is a testament to the character and talent of the fullback that he bounced back to reach unfathomable heights both in the 15s and sevens, with individual accolades in both formats becoming the norm and World Cup appearance in the sevens format the ultimate reward for his brilliance.

 

RUGBY   BEST OF DECADE 

Ugandan rugby bounced in the 2010s after the collapse at the end of the 2000s and beginning of this decade left many fearing the worst. There were many factors responsible for the comeback, principally the emergence of a crop of talented youngsters, who combined with some of the greats of the 2007 CAR winning team to get the sport back on the right track. Here is the top 15 of the decade, starting with least to the greatest.

15. Lawrence Ssebuliba

sebulibas pace was key for the ugby ranes hoto by palanyi sentongoSsebuliba's pace was key for the Rugby Cranes. Photo by Mpalanyi Ssentongo.

 

Granted his game betrayed the marks of a latecomer but Lawrence Ssebuliba's explosiveness and tackling were superb. His contribution to the Rugby Cranes revival and Sevens rise cannot be questioned.

 14. Davis Kiwalabye

 avis iwalabye hoto by ichael subuga Davis Kiwalabye. Photo by Michael Nsubuga

 

He is small but Davis Kiwalabye was no pushover. A scrum half who struggled with his kicking skills, Kiwalabye compensated with rapid ball recycling, sharp observation, solid defending and hard tackling.

 13. Ronald Adigas

 digas in action for the ntebbe ongers hoto by ichael subuga Adigas in action for the Entebbe Mongers. Photo by Michael Nsubuga

 

He was not only a solid prop who anchored the scrums but a powerful ball-carrier for Rugby Cranes. His career highlight - winning the CAR championship - came in the decade before last but his class did not end there.

12. Charles Uhuru

 harles huru in action for the ugby ranes hoto by palanyi sentongo Charles Uhuru in action for the Rugby Cranes. Photo by Mpalanyi Ssentongo

 

He started as a Baby Cranes star but soon distinguished himself with his work rate and his commanding jumps in the lineouts that saw him promoted to the national team. He did not look back once he got to the Cranes.  

11. Romano Ogwal

 omano gwal hoto by ichael subuga Romano Ogwal. Photo by Michael Nsubuga

 

The former U19's lock graduated to the Rugby Cranes with great success. Romano Ogwal's speed and aggressiveness were terrifying, making him an obvious selection in the early going of the national sevens team. He helped Uganda win the Elgon Cup before retiring from the sport.

10. Ivan Magomu

 van agomu in action hoto by palanyi sentongo Ivan Magomu in action. Photo by Mpalanyi Ssentongo

 

Stylish and skillful, Ivan Magomu has been a perfect office bearer for one of the game's marquee positions. More importantly, Magomu is a winner and his presence with the Rugby Cranes has played a crucial role in the team's revival while his part in Black Pirates historic 2018 league championship can't be exaggerated.

9. Paul Kabazzi

 abazzi on duty for the irates hoto by ichael subuga Kabazzi on duty for the Pirates. Photo by Michael Nsubuga

 

The inside centre was a crucial part of the 2012 Rugby Cranes Elgon Cup victory and starred for the Black Pirates although the club's historic 2018 championship came a little too late for a player who retired to focus on his medical profession.

8. Justin Kimono

 ustin imono in action hoto by ohnson ere Justin Kimono in action. Photo by Johnson Were

 

He scored two tries on his debut against Zimbabwe in 2011 and a long line of victims was expected to follow but injuries and put paid to most of Justin Kimono promise. Nevertheless, what a joy Kimono was to behold when he was healthy and fully fit.

7. Michael Wokorach

okorach has been a regular for club and country hoto by palanyi sentongoWokorach has been a regular for club and country. Photo by Mpalanyi Ssentongo

 

He was one of the most reliable faces for the national 15s and sevens, a machine-like force that could score, tackle and handle the ball with ease. He was a centre of immaculate quality.

6. Scott Oluoch

 cott luoch hoto by ohnson ere Scott Oluoch. Photo by Johnson Were

 

A physical specimen of a forward, Scott Oluoch crossed over to the Rugby Cranes after failing to break through into his native Kenyan national side. What a huge gain he proved to be for the Cranes, inspiring Uganda to Elgon Cup's success. Of course, he was always motivated by his meetings with Kenya.

5. Marvin Odongo

 

 ganda ugby ranes arvin dongo right beats enyas defence for gandas first try during an lgon up match at egends une 10 2017  hoto by ichael subuga Uganda Rugby Cranes' Marvin Odongo (right) beats Kenya's defense for Uganda's first try during an Elgon Cup match at Legends, June 10, 2017. Photo by Michael Nsubuga

 

He has had his fair share of long-term injuries but Marvin Odong still qualifies as one of the last decade's top national rugby stars. Incredibly skillful, Odong is a match-winner with exquisite running, ball-carrying and line-out capabilities. But for his injuries he would have done more. Still, he did enough for a place here.

4. Brian Odongo

 dongo powers his way past the enyan defense during an lgon up match hoto by palanyi sentongo Odongo powers his way past the Kenyan defense during an Elgon Cup match. Photo by Mpalanyi Ssentongo

 

Named captain by then national coach Peter Magona in 2014, Brian Odong led the Rugby Cranes for four years, sparking the revival of a team that had met with hard times.  On and off the pitch, he was the perfect leader for the Cranes, complementing his refined public relations with an ever-dependable game. Solid in the scrum and safe with the ball, Odong is the only prop to be voted MVP by USPA.

3. Alexander Mubiru

 lex ubiru command his team mates during a league encounter hoto by ichael subuga Alex Mubiru commands his teammates during a league encounter. Photo by Michael Nsubuga

 

He is undoubtedly the best hooker the country has ever had, possessed of an accurate line-out throw and a gutsy fight in the scrums.  A member of the legendary CAR title winning side, and winner of multiple titles on the local front, Alex Mubiru captained the Elgon Warriors in 2012 and Rugby Cranes in 2013 before retiring from international rugby in 2017.

2. Mathias Ochwo

 chwo in action for the hinos hoto by ohnson ere Ochwo in action for the Rhinos. Photo by Johnson Were.

 

Popularly known as Matayo, Mathias Ochwo was an incredible servant of rugby and the Rugby cranes, in particular, doing duty for two decades. Ochwo was fearless, a do-it-all who was excellent at fetching and carrying the ball, tacking, line-outs, among others. A 2007 CAR winner, Ochwo helped Uganda win the Elgon Cup twice in the 2010s.

1.Philip Wokorach

 ugby evens hillip okorach and ichael korach celebrate after beating imbabwe 107 in the the final of the frica ugby evens at egends ground ctober 7 2017 hoto by ichael subuga Rugby Sevens Phillip Wokorach and Michael Okorach celebrate after beating Zimbabwe 10-7 in the the final of the Africa Rugby Sevens at Legends ground, October 7 2017. Photo by Michael Nsubuga

 

A full back of great skill and heart, Philip Wokorach had to overcome two gruesome knee injuries in the last decade, on either knee. It is a testament to the character and talent of the fullback that he bounced back to reach unfathomable heights both in the 15s and sevens, with individual accolades in both formats becoming the norm and World Cup appearance in the sevens format the ultimate reward for his brilliance. He completed the decade by moving to French Division 5 side Bourges XV, which he hopes will be the beginning of the best part of his career.

 

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