Ugandan rugby team want to be new kings of Scotland


On a pristine field 30 minutes’ drive east of Glasgow, one of Australia’s opponents in this weekend’s rugby sevens are being put through their paces.
On the pitch next door the Scottish Premier League football team Motherwell are training ahead of a Europa League qualifying match in Iceland.
Professional footballers in their midst, barely a blade of grass out of order and ice baths ready for them to slip into afterwards. It’s a far cry from the usual surrounds of Uganda’s rugby team.
The Cranes, as they’re known, are not here to make up the numbers, insists their hulking assistant coach Yayiro Kasasa.



They are pooled with Australia, England and Sri Lanka in Saturday’s preliminary round at Ibrox and don’t dare suggest to Kasasa that they won’t be back at the ground when the Commonwealth Games rugby reaches its pointy end on Sunday.
“(Australia) are technically superior but we are geared towards making them sweat to win, and if not, to win,” he says. “We are here for business.”
In reality, the Ugandans will be right up against it to trouble Australia or England. They were thrashed 33-0 by Australia and 55-0 by England four years ago in Delhi, although they defeated Sri Lanka comfortably in a group that was exactly the same as their one in Glasgow.
Like much of the competition between Commonwealth giants and less developed nations here over the next week, Uganda beating Australia is not really the point, as romantic a tale as that would be.
The playing field, as flawless as it will be at Ibrox this weekend, is nowhere near even.
While Australia’s sevens team travels the world on the top-tier IRB circuit, and are now full-time athletes based in Narrabeen, the Cranes traverse Africa when they can, taking on the likes of Namibia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Tunisia.
A mix of students, lawyers, IT personnel, social workers and the like, they were even left to fork out their own spending money in Glasgow after the Ugandan government failed to deliver the allowances they were expecting before they left home.

Mili Thakur