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Dream come true for Lady-Cranes

A new chapter has been written into Ugandan rugby’s sporting history. The national ladies Sevens team, the Lady Cranes, qualified for the Women’s Sevens World Cup for the first time following their 7-0 win over Tunisia in the African Sevens Championship semi-final at Kyadondo Rugby Grounds last weekend.

At a time when there is a feeling of elation in Ugandan rugby following the Rugby Cranes qualification for the semi-finals of the Confederation of African Rugby Cup after a 32-22 annihilation of Madagascar last month, the ladies made it against all odds to ensure Uganda’s third participation at a World Cup. The ladies netball team did the trick back in 1982 while a combined East African team that included Ugandans John Nagenda and Sam Walusimbi also participated at the 1975 Cricket World Cup.

Lady Cranes’ success however came at the expense of an embarrassing 0-24 loss to mighty Lady Boks of South Africa in the final of the 8-nation event that also featured Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Like it was at the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) Ladies tournament last year, David Mutaka’s charges were once again left speechless by Springbok lady player Natasha Hoffmeester who converted two tries. But all that counted for nothing since Christine Kizito and Co. had finished the most important business. But it’s the margin of defeat that worried the coaching team that hoped for an improvement from last year’s 7-20 defeat to the same team at the same stage. The CAR come-from-behind win was also orchestrated by Hoffmeester’s two tries.

“The girls let the foot off the pedal,” said Mutaka. “We cannot afford to play like this against established teams at the World Cup or else we shall be embarrassed.”
Yet embarrassment was written all over the faces of the Tunisians; after winning their last Pool match against the Ugandans 5-12, they could have thought that by avoiding favourites South Africa in the semis, their passage to the Dubai showpiece was clear.

Thanks largely to Kizito’s dominant frame, the Tunisians huffed and puffed with no success and will have to wait till 2010 to have another chance.
Now that the World Cup euphoria has gripped the rugby fraternity, attention switches to this weekend’s final leg of the uganda telecom Sevens circuit where the MTN Heathens will be odds-on favourites to defend the title they won last year. This tournament will also act as tune-up before the final event for the season- the lucrative Hima Tens due in November. Ugandan teams performed dismally last year with utl Kobs finishing runner-up to Kenyan outfit Mvamba.

dlumu@observer.ug

Main Cup final: South Africa beat Uganda 24–0
Plate Final: Kenya beat Tunisia 15–14
Bowl final: Zambia beat Zimbabwe 38–0
Shield final: Uganda A beat Botswana 20-7

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