Published on September 19th, 2012 | by Admin0
X-MEN TOUR TO MBALE ELEPHANTS RUGBY CLUB
In a week in which Rugby has received negative press on a daily basis, there was great news emanating from Mount Elgon where a committed group of “Wazee” made an unprecedented trip to Mbale Elephants Rugby Club for a tour to help publicize Rugby and assist the cause of upcountry Rugby.
In the confines of Kampala it is quite easy to forget that Rugby is very much alive and kicking in our upcountry towns: Gulu, Lira, Kitgum, Mbale, Jinja, Mbarara and, more recently, Kasese, Fort Portal and Arua. Great things are happening in Rugby in spite of the huge distraction that the Kampala Rugby Grounds sale has created. Today, I will simply report on the tour to Mbale.
Who are these Wazee?
The idea behind the Wazee, is very simple; Giving back to Rugby. The team that traveled to Mbale is not as old in age as the term Wazee suggests. It is for this reason that we decided to rebrand. The team called itself “The X-Men” under the slogan “Forever Young”. Yes, part of the tour is to give back in a fun manner. And while we have a large group that has subscribed to the concept, the Men that managed to make the trip are: Godie Nsamba (last man standing), Nathan Wasolo, Mike Wandera, Brian Makalama (Big Daddy), Paulo Lubega (Absent without Leave), Tolbert Onyango (packed lunch), Gary Mabonga, Yayiro Kasasa and Alex Kalimugogo. We were supplemented by the good depth of the Mbale Elephants team to ensure we had a complete squad of 15 to have a full contact game against them.
Mbale Rugby Club is Real!!
Many may have heard about the efforts to secure a land title for the Rugby grounds in Mbale. While this may take longer than planned, the Rugby pitch is fully secured and a very popular project in Mbale. The Union provided poles which provide a good break in colour against the imposing site of Mount Elgon in the background. The pitch has been leveled by our Heroes in Mbale and the turf is as good, if not better, than Twickenam’s (Okay, slight exaggeration). Long and short of this is that although the full 16 acres of land is yet to be secured, the main pitch is now fully in the hands of Mbale Elephants and in no danger of being cannibalized anymore. Mbale Elephants Rugby club is real! The next project is to work with the Union, Sponsors, X-Men and Well wishers to refurbish the stands and set up a club house. A certain young gentleman from “outside Countries” called Joshua is actually in the course of fundraising for the refurbishment of the main stand.
The game itself was super! The X-Men came into the match expecting to walk all over the Mbale Elephants while the Mbale Elephants expected to thrash these by-gones whom they thought would be barely able to run. The mutual expectations of an easy victory made for a very interesting game. Half-time score was 0-0 with the Wazee dominating both possession and territory. The Elephants defended gallantly and had to as Nathan Wasolo pulled every trick from his repertoire to bamboozle the elephants back-line only to be stopped short of the white line on no less than three occasions.
The tide changed in the second half as the Elephants sensed fatigue was starting to take its toll on the Wazee. The Elephants thrived on getting to break-downs much faster than the X-Men and two quick counter-attacks were converted into tries for a score of 10-0 at 65 minutes (Yes, we played a full 80 minutes with no modified rules). An injury to Nathan Wasolo at the close of first half further depleted the Wazee, but the undertaker Mike Wandera was at his no-nonsense best tackling like a combine-harvester and being omnipresent whenever a try scoring opportunity beckoned. Toli, at fly-half, managed to break open the line with a dummy, hand-off and step and set up a ruck which led to the X-Men’s first and only try (by the undertaker of course) with ten minutes to full-time. The X-Men now started to plot victory.
The Elephants, realizing the stakes had been raised, closed shop and continued to play a very intelligent game – kicking for territory and applying pressure at the breakdowns. The pressure almost paid when they turned over a ruck and got a clean break to our line . Running one-on-one against our full-back Godie, it looked a sure bet that the Elephants would score a try to make the game certain. But experience won over youth on this encounter and Godie put in the tackle of the game to stop the hopeful elephant just 5 metres shy of the line. 5 Minutes later, the final whistle blew as did a sigh of relief from the Elephants. Final score: 10-5.
Notes from the Match Commissioner:
Man of the match: The Undertaker.
Moment of the Match: Second-half kick-off. As the Ball approached Paulo Lubega, he appeared completely divorced from all proceedings and was caught in a trance – unable to move a muscle. The Ball went right past him and it was only several seconds later that he registered that second half had started.
After-match-moment: “Last King of Scotland Scene” when expatriate player of Mbale Elephants knelt (Kiganda style) before Brian Makalama and held a conversation with him for at least 10 minutes in that position (pictures coming out soon). Mbu they were discussing Rugby.
X-files Moment of the Tour: Whatever happened at The Thatch
No-show of the Tour: Many candidates: Arthur Mugweri, Bob Omona, Ken Opits, Sebina and Dr Gumz are all candidates. But Mutaks won this award. We understand he is still on his way and has reached Lugazi!
We want to extend a very warm thanks to our hosts. They were absolutely awesome. We found everything arranged in such good order. Accommodation, the pitch and even music/PA system, posters publicizing the game and a curtain raiser game from school-age kids. Special thanks to Paul Makanya and our Rugby Development Officer for that region Stephen Anguma. You guys are true Rugby heroes.
Our Tour T-shirts are on sale and can be got from Mike Wandera. Don’t worry about the logo which is supposed to show a Man carrying a rugby ball. It is only visible to philosophers like Mike himself.
Great Tour all round. The X-Men’s next destination is the Mbarara 7s and next year we plan a tour of Northern Uganda.
X-Men; Forever Young!!!