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Elgon Wolves Vs Warriors: URU Orders Replay

The championship final which was to feature Kitante Eagles and Elgon Wolves will not be played as earlier scheduled and so will have to wait a little longer and worst case scenario, maybe be played “without” the other previously confirmed qualified side of the fixture—Elgon Wolves.

Elgon Wolves— the other half of the would-have been final, have been tasked by Uganda Rugby Union (URU), to re-live their semifinal against Warriors after the latter lodged a successful appeal against Elgon Wolves RC.

Failure to go past the Warriors huddle the second time might see Wolves granting the rugby fanatics an “all central” championship final whose possibility had earlier been erased.

How it all started
In an appeal forwarded to URU on 6th June, 2023, Warriors RC contested Wolves’ 15-10 victory in the initial semifinal game played on 3rd June, 2023 at Damwataters—Jinja, citing the fielding of ineligible players by Elgon Wolves.

The cited players were purportedly registered under the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) but not authorised to participate in URU-sanctioned matches.

What does World Rugby say?
World Rugby regulation 4.5.8 states,

“A Player may not be registered simultaneously with more than one Union unless he is classified as a student…. or….is a full-time member of the armed services …. and has the prior written permission of his/her home union for dual registration…”

And regulation 4.6.1 states,

“A player leaving or proposing to leave his current union to play in another union shall not be registered or eligible to participate in competitions organized, recognized or sanctioned by that new union until the new union has received the original version (or a facsimile copy of the original version) of a clearance by the current union.”

If discovered to be in breach of the above regulations, Elgon Wolves RFC would face extreme punishment measures from URU, including writing them off of the final, and having Warriors feature in the said final instead, (worst case scenario, with no replay at all).

URU’s Discoveries
Following Warriors RC appeal, the URU appeal committee convened a meeting on Wednesday 7th June, 2023, to evaluate the situation and address the allegations levelled against Elgon Wolves RFC.

The appeal committe found the cited Elgon Wolves players to have breached World Rugby regulations 4.5.8 and 4.6.1.

In failure to conduct proper sensitization and league management, URU and Eastern Uganda Rugby Association (EURA), were also found to have breached World Rugby regulation 4.5.11 which states;

“Each union shall maintain a register of all contract players and all dual registered players under its jurisdiction and shall provide access to and/or copies of such register (or any part thereof) on demand, to World Rugby.”

Clearly, the governing body of Ugandan rugby also failed to uphold a part they had to play in curbing such occurrences in the sport and the blame was not to be fully laid on the team in question—Elgon Wolves RFC.

In light of these breaches, URU made several resolutions, including nullifying the played semifinal match between the two sides, and concluding that a replay was the most appropriate course of action to preserve fairness (given that URU had to also take blame in all this).

Resolutions Passed
URU statement included several resolutions aimed at rectifying the situation and ensuring a just outcome for both teams. In addition to nullifying the previous result, the key resolutions were as follows.

The URU ExCom;

  1. Nullifies the match result between Warriors RC and Elgon Wolves RC held on 3rd June 2023. The championship semifinal match between between the two sides will therefore be replayed on June 10, 2023, at the original venue—Damwaters, at the cost of URU.
  2. Exonerates Elgon Wolves RC and its players under question sighting lack of guidance from URU.
  3. Notifies KRU and parent clubs of players in question of the findings of the appeal committee for possible sanctioning under World Rugby regulations.

4. Requires that UR Secretariate reviews and okays all association(regional rugby associations) manuals for compliance with World Rugby provisions.

  1. Requires that URU Secretariate quotes relevant clauses from World Rugby regulations, laws, bylaws and guidelines in all rugby related literature to increase awareness among associations, clubs and persons of rugby.
  2. Requires that URU Secretariate circulates the link to the World Rugby regulations to all member clubs and affiliates with immediate effect.

Related cases
It should be remembered that the championship playoffs 2022 were also mired in controversy as Kyambogo RFC, who came second in the central league, appealed against BOKs RFC who at the time were (still are) a feeder side for KOBs RFC and therefore were not eligible to take part in the championship playoffs even after having won the central league.

BOKs would then go on to take part in the playoffs on probation, which they won, defeating Walukuba RFC in the final but failed to prove their independence as tasked by URU, and so where ineligible to play in the rugby premiership they had “qualified” for, (Walukuba taking their spot later on).

URU has since devised protocols to govern the championships playoffs including developing the “Reserve League” which would feature the feeder teams whilst the Central League is left for teams vying for top flight rugby.

Even then, with every passing season, new issues seem to be stemming. URU ought to realize strategies to strengthen player eligibility and team protocols and ensure a transparent process for future matches.

With the committee’s decision this year, both Warriors and Wolves will have an opportunity to prove their mettle on the field once again.

Buoyed by success of their appeal, Warriors will be determined to seek redemption for the previous result while Wolves will aim to put the controversy behind them and re-obtain their place in the championship final through a convincing victory.

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