The last day of the HSBC World Series in Dubai will forever be remembered for one of the sport’s more remarkable results. Just as they did at the the Africa Cup title in Nairobi, Kenya it was Uganda who supplied the biggest of shocks, downing Japan 19-26 in the 13th place semi-finals playoff of the competition.
Outcomes in sevens tend to be more unpredictable than in 15s but by any standards this scoreline will reverberate around the world, reviving memories of Japan’s incredible showcase at the men’s rugby sevens tournament at the Rio Olympics.
This is the first-ever meeting between Japan and Uganda with both sides looking for their first win of the series. This was arguably a special victory for Tolbert Onyango’s team – it’s their first-ever win in the sevens series, and it’s come against one of the core teams in still-winless Asians.
JPN 7-7 UGA
Japan striked first as Masahiro Nakano broke from deep to score his first-ever sevens series try. Lawrence Sebuliba had had a cracking weekend for Uganda, meanwhile, and he took on virtually the whole Japan team on his own, twisting this way and that, to land his third try at the Dubai Sevens.
JPN 12-14 UGA
Massive jump stepped off the right foot from Philip Wokorach and he had the confidence to kick on to the line. Wokorach was a real star on Day 1 for the fresh African champions, and that was his third try in Dubai. There was a delightful left-handed offload from Jamie Henry and Masahiro Nakano was in for a second.
JPN 19-26 UGA
More magic came from Wokorach before Byron Oketayot muscled his way past two defenders to set Uganda well on their way to a first-ever win in the sevens series. Japan slowed the game down and made it a bodyweight battle as Yoshiaki Tsurugasaki gave his side hope but not for long.
“We started getting more confident and Japan started to struggle a bit,” said Philip Wokorach. “We thought, if we keep on moving the ball around, the big guys will tire somewhere and eventually they did. We had a game plan against Japan – play at our pace and they would get frustrated.
“It is unbelievable. You never see a minnow come here and beat a team which is supposed to be a gold medal contender. I am still shocked, to be honest.”