Rugby union in Uganda

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Rugby union in Uganda
Uganda v Samoa try.jpg
The Uganda sevens team scores a try against Samoa
Governing bodyUganda Rugby Football Union
National team(s) Uganda
First playedEarly 20th century
Registered players26126 [1]
National competitions
Club competitions
Nile Special Premier League
Uganda Cup

Rugby union in Uganda has been played since colonial times when it was introduced by the British. The governing body is the Uganda Rugby Football Union.



Rugby was originally introduced to Uganda by British colonists.

Idi Amin and rugby

A notable fan of all Ugandan sports, the dictator Idi Amin had been very athletic in his time in the army. At 193 cm (6 ft 4 in) tall, he was the Ugandan light heavyweight boxing champion from 1951 to 1960, and also a swimmer and rugby player. He played rugby initially with the Nile R.F.C. and later for the Kobs R.F.C. in Kampala. Amin also said in one of his speeches,

"As you know I am a rugby player. I am second row, so I know how to push. I am very big. You don't want to push against me. And I also play wing three-quarter and I am very fast. I can run one hundred meters in nine point five seconds (applause). If you tackle me, you will try, and you will hurt only yourself. So to everyone who is a boxer, I say this, do what you have to do to knock out your opponent." [2]

Although on an official evaluation one of his officers once wrote of him:

"Idi Amin is a splendid type and a good [rugby] player, but virtually bone from the neck up, and needs things explained in words of one letter." [3] [4] [5]

There is a frequently repeated urban legend [6] [7] that he was selected as a replacement by East Africa for their match against the 1955 British Lions. The story is entirely unfounded, he does not appear on the team photograph or on the official team list [8] and replacements were not allowed in international rugby until 13 years after this event is supposed to have taken place. [9]

2010 Kampala attacks

In July, 2010, Ugandan rugby hit the headlines, when one of two locations hit by terrorist attacks was Kyadondo Rugby Club in Nakawa, where state-run newspaper New Vision was hosting a screening of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final. [10]

National team

Uganda have been playing rugby since the late 1950s, playing their first international against Kenya in 1958. They have not yet qualified for the Rugby World Cup. Uganda plays in red.

Originally Uganda, along with Tanzania and Kenya was represented by the East Africa rugby union team. This consisted mostly of white settlers from Kenya, and the games tended to be hosted in Nairobi.

The British and Irish Lions played games against an East African side, on their 1955 tour, and 1962 tours (losing 50-0). [11]

Uganda also has a women's team, and a rugby sevens team.


The main national competition of Uganda rugby is Nile Special Premier League, currently disputed by 10 teams. They are:

The second most important competition is the Nile Special Uganda Cup. The current holders are the Kobs who defeated the Heathens 19-9 in the final, which took place at 30 October 2010.

See also

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  2. Documentary: "General Idi Amin Dada: A Self-Portrait" by Barbet Schroeder
  3. Idi Amin, Scotsman, 16 August 2003
  4. Idi Amin Dada: A Hero in Ugandan Sports?
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-10-16. Retrieved 2009-09-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. Cain, Nick & Growden, Greg "Chapter 21: Ten Peculiar Facts about Rugby" in Rugby Union for Dummies (2nd Edition), p294 (pub: John Wiley and Sons, Chichester, England) ISBN   978-0-470-03537-5
  7. Cotton, Fran (Ed.) (1984) The Book of Rugby Disasters & Bizarre Records. Compiled by Chris Rhys. London. Century Publishing. ISBN   0-7126-0911-3
  8. Campbell, M. & Cohen, E.J. (1960) Rugby Football in East Africa 1909-1959. Published by the Rugby Football Union of East Africa
  9. "History of the Laws". Retrieved 2021-08-23.
  10. "33 die in Kampala bomb attacks". New Vision . July 11, 2010. Archived from the original on July 14, 2010. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
  11. Cotton, p111