Home Rugby National 7s 2023 National 7s Wrap Up

2023 National 7s Wrap Up

by James Kavuma
6 minutes read

The two-month or thereabout-long national 7s calendar has come to a close, and the charger has been discovered to have residence in Bweyogerere as both the Black Pearls and Stanbic Black Pirates reigned supreme.

Both teams have their home in Bweyogerere at the Kings’ Park Arena. It is all rugby made in Bweyogerere.

So, what did we see during the National 7s?

What a man can do, a woman can do!!!

This particular section has nothing to do with the P Square song released in 2007. However, I know the fossils and wazeeyi of the fraternity will appreciate the trip down memory lane.

Just ensure the bones don’t crack while at it, lest we send multiple ambulances to Lugogo.

Back to the matter, 2023 saw a much-needed combination – the women’s 7s games were scheduled alongside the men’s games.

This was a long overdue answer to the cries of many who wanted to watch the best of the women play alongside the best of the women.

The women’s game is rapidly growing worldwide, and it was only fitting for Uganda to heed this trend. The women’s game is now being exposed to the same audience as the men’s game.

We need to understand that the men’s game has more pull because of affiliation, and it’s wise we tap into this audience for the women’s game.

It has yielded results as we have seen more conversations about the women’s game.

Just pass to Emily Lekuru

When you speak about the women’s game today, you must mention the 2023 Ferrari Daytona SP3.

The Daytona SP3 is propelled by the most powerful combustion engine ever used in a Ferrari road car, a naturally aspirated 6.5-litre V-12 motor borrowed from the 812 Competizione that 10 ponies have boosted for 829 horsepower.

The V-12, which revs to 9500 rpm, also produces a healthy 514 pound-feet of torque, and the engine’s output is routed to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

All you have read above is Emilly Lekuru. It may sound like the specs of a car, but it is a collection of specs of Emilly Lekuru.

Now, go back and read again. Emilly Lekuru is really bad news. The Pearls worked out a set of plays that ended with Lekuru having the ball. When that happens, add 5 points on the scoreboard.

Emilly is so good that she got suspended for six games but came back to dominate the scoring charts with 49 tries in 20 games across the five editions of the National 7s.

For context, the record holder for the most tries scored for the women’s game on the HSBC World Series is Australian Maddi Levi, with 57 tries in 42 matches.

Heathens and yellow cards

The yellow machine has taken over everything yellow in rugby. If it is a case of branding, bravo!!

But that’s not how it’s done. With the possibility of winning the national 7s even more apparent, the Heathens have been the “panickest” team this series – botching leads and conceding cards in less-than-advisable scenarios.

These cards have affected their performances as they have lost crucial players in that time and also surrendered leads easily.

The Heathens have collected the most yellows, and we saw captain Michael Wokorach pay heavily for this – being suspended for multiple works as he was found on the wrong side of the law many times.

Tororo Crest

Ladies and gentlemen, Tororo Crest shook tables. In the “invitational side” umbrella, Tororo Crest got everyone in union against the Heathens.

The wins against Buffaloes and Rams were celebrated until it was discovered that they were a machine assembled in Kenya.

Then, the tables turned. No one wanted to play the Crest of Tororo. They left many injuries and dead bodies in their wake, as the Hippos and Pirates could attest.

In the beginning, it was funny when they were going ping-pong with the Heathens, and no one knew anything about them.

But as day one wound down and they were beating up on the Core team in Pool A and accurate information of the +254 citizenry was made public, the cries grew louder, and plots to avoid playing them were getting drawn.

A Tororo Crest player scores a try against the Pirates

Ultimately, we all wound up as fans of the Pirates because there was no way we would handle the banter from across the Elgon if the soup-deprived team made it to the finale and won.

Walukuba Barbarians Are Solid

We have a bona fide superstar team in Walukuba Barbarians. Their time is now. Coming into their own after the Jinja Hippos, the Barbarians were bound to suffer from being in the Hippos’ shadow.

Well, that didn’t last long. It is safe to say the Barbarians are now their own team, not just a team from the East like the Hippos.

At the start of the Premiership in January, many wrote off the Barbarians and had them fighting relegation, but they were very safe at the end of the competition.

Fast forward to the National 7s calendar, and the Barbarians are also here, beating up on whoever they can get their hands on.

After blowing through numerous opportunities, the team found their rhythm at the Mileke Border 7s, going through KOBs and Heathens before eventually defeating the Pirates to win their first-ever circuit.

Walukuba Barbarians celebrate winning the Mileke Border 7s

This is just the start of something beautiful in Walukuba.

Marvin Odongo

Save for his heroics with Kings College Budo in his school days, that tackle on Davis Chenge after reading through the Simbas’ dummy playbook or the fact that he was part of the Pirates that ran through the treble in 2018, what else do you know about Coach Marvin Odongo?

Not much, right? I am here to tell you that in itself is a lot.

Cap on, Picfare notebook in hand, Wallabies or Pirates replica on fleek, ceremonial Saturday rugby shorts on deck, coach Marvin Odongo strides into gamedays the same way.

After marshalling the 15s title away from the Heathens about four months ago, he has ably added the National 7s trinket to his resume in less than 12 months in charge of the Pirates ship.

Pirates National 7s crowning moment at the Kyabazinga 7s

That gentleman is putting everyone on notice that he comes not to play games but to lay waste to all his challengers and come out on top.

Best Circuit

Kyadondo 7s, thank you! You will take this one. For the love of organisation and rugby on a smooth green surface, Kyadondo came through clutch.

You will struggle to remember a 7s circuit at Kyadondo for which the skies didn’t come with unwarranted blessings.

The team at Heathens, and by extension, Kyadondo, did a tremendous job with this particular circuit.

Set to celebrate the homely nature of Kyadondo and its impact beyond rugby, they brought around one of Uganda’s favourite sons, Philip Wokorach, for the special one.

The match ball delivery short ceremony at the start of every game added an aspect of verve and panache to the whole experience, keeping revellers on their toes for which next sports star would be doing the honour – from KOBs Coach Brian Makalama to Kyadondo Chairman Brian Tabaruka, veteran Allan Musoke, cricket’s Davis Karashani, Gazelles’ Melissa Akullu, She Cranes’ Hanisha Muhammed and Faridah Kadondi.

She Cranes star Hanisha Muhammed waves to the crowd after delivering the match ball.

The fact that Heathens wound up the only side to win a circuit they hosted this year is another thing to write home about about Kyadondo 7s.

Best festival parte

Where there’s rugby, there’s a festival. There is a party.

After a whole day of exchanging hostilities, rugby fans have made it an acceptable habit to join in dance force and merry-making to revisit the best plays on the day, accompanied by the best sounds, the coldest drinks and the warmest hospitality.

On that note, Kings’ Park Arena – what was that?! There is something about an after-party in the open mosquito-laden Bweyogerere.

Can Kings Park Arena out do themselves again?

You could feel it in the air even as games were winding down on both days that the squad in charge of the enjoyment was up to no good based on the entertainment lineup and offers blaring through the speakers.

Forfeit RFC

Tolbert’s axe hard did the KOBs – most of his Angels were coming from the Blue Army, and Africa 7s preparations proved more serious than the local bragging rights.

The Blue Army found themselves in unfamiliar territory, forfeiting matches at the Mileke Border 7s and the Kyabazinga 7s.

Given the trajectory they had been on all through to the Tooro 7s, after which they climbed to the top of the table, the sudden drop in form was irksome to watch.


This award is hugely sentimental, but after some soul-searching and constant meditation, this writer agrees that Lawrence Ssebuliba has been the most valuable player this year.

The name Ssebuliba Lawrence in rugby circles spells pace and power on the wing and tries scored.

Lawrence Ssebuliba in full flight.

In 2023, he added a different spice; we saw Ssebuliba get into his best defensive element from the Rujumba 7s onwards. He was a force to reckon with going forward, scoring tries for fun, but an immovable object on defence.

Timothy Kisiga (Stanbic Black Pirates) and Ivan Bulima (Walukuba Barbarians) might have had a say in who would win it, but the large consensus is that Lawrence Ssebuliba is the MVP.

Courtesy Photos

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