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April 23, 2024

This Is How Round 1 Of The Nile Special Rugby Premier League Is Shaping Up

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Black Pirates players celebrate win over Jinja Hippos. They remain unbeaten and on top of the table. Courtesy Photo.

The Nile Special Rugby Premier League table looked a lot different at this stage of the season last year than it does right now. After Game Week 4, Heathens were on top of the table, the Black Pirates and the KOBs were second and third respectively, and it stayed that way till the end.

This year, the Black Pirates and the KOBs have exchanged the top spot, while the Heathens have climbed from the bottom half of the table to the fourth position after 3 wins in 4 games. Impis on the other hand are enjoying a 4 game winning streak since the commencement of the season.

Alema Ruhweza (with ball) puts up a man of the match performance against Buffaloes. He has been instrumental in all Pirate’s wins so far. Courtesy Photo.

At the tail end of the table, Walukuba, Rams and Rhinos are all yet to register a win for the 2023 rugby season. There is also a battle brewing in the mid table, where the Jinja Hippos are yet to play the Buffaloes this season while the Mongers are also knocking at that the higher slots on the table.

The 2023 Rugby League Thus Far

The Uganda Rugby Union officials billed the 2023 Nile Special Rugby Premier League to be the most competitive and entertaining edition yet, and it’s showing. The newly appointed Uganda Rugby Union CEO, Mr. Isaac Lutwama, promised the rugby fraternity a masterclass and has so far delivered.

This is going to be the most competitive season yet. I am most certain that the traditional Top Clubs will be seriously challenged. We saw a new National Rugby 7s champion, the Jinja Hippos, not from the central region.

Mr. Isaac Lutwama At The 2023 Rugby Launch

The opening day set the pace for the rest of the season. The Black Pirates defeated the defending champions, the Heathens, at Kings Park Arena while the Impis traveled to Jinja to pick up a victory against the Hippos. A huge KOBs win against Walukuba, Buffaloes and Mongers home wins against the Rhinos and Rams were the expected outcomes from those fixtures.

In Game Week 2, every home team, apart from Impis, suffered a defeat. It is these sort of stats that have seen the Makerere boys stay with in the top half of the table. By the end of  Game Week 3, the KOBs had lost to the Heathens, thus dropping to 3rd and Impis into second place. However, the KOBs reclaimed 2nd place after amassing Bonus points in all the games they have played, despite having one less win than Impis.

The Unbeaten Run Continues For Impis And Pirates

Impis has beaten every team they lost to last season, with the exception of the newly promoted Walukuba. Jinja Hippos, Walukuba Barbarians, Mongers and Rams have all fallen to the spears of the Impis in the first round of the Nile Special Rugby Premier League. “This is a project we started 3 years ago. The little success we are enjoying now are the fruits of collective hardwork from all the boys.” noted Syrus Simon Ssebuliba, the Impis Coach.

Impis (in green) share a photo moment minutes with Rams after defeating them in the Makerere Derby. Courtesy Photo.

Top of the table Black Pirates are in high flying form at the moment. With 4 wins in 4 games, including wins against Heathens and Jinja Hippos, the Pirates are tightening their grip on the title. The 2017 league winners havent held the title in over 5 years, but this seams to be their season. Seasoned campaigners like Ivan Magomu, Alema “Didi” Ruhweza, Timothy Kisiga and William Nkore have showed why they are club veterans despite being youngsters. This has provided confidence to the younger players in the squad to step up and shine too. 

There is no doubt the Black Pirates can go all the way to the zenith of league glory, the title is theirs to loose. On the other hand, the Impis have so far garnered as many wins as they did in their previous 2 campaigns, and they are enjoying every bit of it. Both teams are lethal at the moment and can’t be taken lightly as this has proven costly to the Jinja Hippos and the Heathens.

All Or Nothing For KOBs And Walukuba

Despite suffering a painful loss to the Heathens, the KOBs are still in the running for the title. They have picked up a bonus point in all 4 of their games so far, including a losing bonus point. Club legends like Davis Kyewalabye and Lawrence Wakabi are back in the fold and are providing inspiration to the current cohort at the club. To rule KOBs out at this stage of the season would be an error on any pundit and punter alike.

KOBs celebrate the return of club legend Lawrence Wakabi with a win at Legends Rugby Grounds last Saturday. Courtesy Photo.

The Walukuba Barbarians haven’t done enough to prove their top flight status. The Rhinos on the other hand are in shambles. A couple of expected losses to the Buffaloes and Black Pirates, and a 03 : 03 draw with Rams is ‘unrhinos like.’ Relegation threatened Rams weren’t expected to put big a performance like they did last season, finishing 5th on the log, but should be able to pick up pace as the season progresses.

This Weekend’s Fixtures

Jinja Hippos Vs Heathens – Dam Waters, 3pm.

Buffaloes Vs KOBs – Kyadondo, 4pm.

Rhinos Vs Impis – Legends, 4pm.

Rams Vs Walukuba – Makerere, 4pm.

Mongers Vs Black Pirates – Entebbe, 4pm.

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