Africa Sevens champions Uganda are looking forward to putting up a good challenge when they take part in this weekend’s Dubai Sevens and then seven days later, at the Cape Town Sevens in South Africa.
Having earned an invitation to compete at the opening two tournaments on the World Rugby Sevens Series 2016-17 courtesy of their sensational victory in Nairobi back in September, Uganda face matches against South Africa, USA and Scotland in Pool A in Dubai.
While aware of the size of the task ahead of them, Uganda head coach Tolbert Onyango says his side are in good spirits and full of confidence after wins against top seeds Kenya and Zimbabwe en route to a 38-19 victory over Namibia in the final of the Rugby Africa Sevens.
Reflecting on the success, Onyango said: "It was a team effort. We fielded a younger squad that truly believed in themselves and once we beat Zimbabwe in our first game we knew it would be very hard to stop us. Our confidence grew with every game.
"The sky is the limit now. We are aware that we shall meet teams that have been in the series for over 10 years and that it's a different ball game for the players, but they will give it their best shot.
"By playing these more experienced teams it will help us assess at what stage Uganda is at compared to the best in the world. It's tournaments like these that will help us assess the gap.
"We truly believe that these experiences will propel us to become a better rugby-playing nation and a core side in a couple of years to come."
Philip Wokorach played a starring role for Uganda during their Rugby Africa Sevens triumph and Onyango highlighted the 22-year-old as ‘one to watch’ as the Rugby Cranes prepare to make their first appearance on the Sevens series for nearly a decade. Uganda did compete, however, at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, where they finished third in Pool D after beating Sri Lanka.
"Preparations have been good thus far and we are looking forward to putting up a good challenge in Dubai and Cape Town. This is the first time we shall be taking part in back-to-back top notch international tournaments so we shall be entering new territory.
"The team is eager and excited to be taking part in the two tournaments, meeting the top teams and star players whom they've been following for a couple of years now. There's no better challenge than this in a sevens environment and we are raring to go."