Three years later. The Elgon Cup Returns!
• First Leg (Uganda) – 23rd July 2022
• Second Leg (Kenya) – 30th July 2022
The long awaited Elgon Cup is finally around the corner. A game that salvages an atmosphere like no other will finally be on show once again after a three year absence, caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Kenya have established themselves as the team to beat after winning the last four editions (2016 – Kenya, 2017 – Kenya, 2018 – Kenya, 2019 – Kenya).
This year’s Elgon Cup finds Uganda in a better position as per the 2022 Top 8 Africa Ranking: XVs – Men. The Rugby Cranes are 5th, meanwhile neighbors Kenya are second behind Namibia.
But, what is the Elgon Cup?
The Elgon Cup is a rugby contest between the Rugby Union teams of Kenya and Uganda. The men’s and women’s teams of these countries each compete annually for their respective cups on a Home-and-Away basis. The competition and the cups are named after Mount Elgon, a mountain on the border of the two countries.
Team Kenya usually play at the RFUEA Ground, Nairobi, Kenya, whilst Uganda usually play their home matches at the Kyadondo Rugby Grounds, Kampala, Uganda. The women’s games generally serve as a curtain raiser to the men’s games.
Rugby History between Uganda and Kenya|
Kenya and Uganda have a long history of rugby matches going back even before the first official match in 1958. Prior to the formation of the Rugby Football Union of Kenya (RFUK) in 1921 and the Uganda Rugby Football Union (URFU) in 1955, these two territories put out representative sides though, without a governing union, they could not award caps. Games were frequently played in the early days by representative sides from Kenya and Uganda (and also Tanganyika) against each other and against touring sides most notably from Royal Naval vessels and British and South African Universities (the University of Stellenbosch, University of Cape Town, Rhodes University and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge).
The very first match between Kenya and Uganda involved an incident that may well be unique in international rugby history. In the early 1930s there was only one rugby club in Uganda (the Uganda RFC, later to become “Uganda Kobs RFC” and then “Kampala Kobs RFC”) and a number of Ugandan players (including Percy Minns) persuaded the Kenya clubs to send a Kenya XV to play against them in Entebbe.
Unfortunately, both teams arrived with a set of white jerseys. According to long established tradition in rugby, it is the duty of the home side to change shirts in the event of a clash; about 10 miles from the clubhouse in Kampala, Uganda resorted to dying their shirts in the water-bucket on the sideline using the iodine from the medical kit. The shirts were worn wet and, according to contemporary reports, the spectators and referee had greater and greater difficulty telling the sides apart as the game progressed.
Rugby is a game rooted deeply in tradition and, as a result of this incident, Ugandan representative sides wore black shirts for almost 100 years in memory of this incident. It is only recently that they have started wearing shirts that include red and orange, the other two colours present in the Ugandan flag, though the predominant colour still tends to be black.