News and Views

Two Ugandan rugby players who went on the run after the Commonwealth Games are found – playing for a tiny Welsh club

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  • Benon Kizza and Phillip Pariyo disappeared after the Games in August
  • The pair had not been heard from for months before showing up in Wales
  • They contacted St Peter’s RFC in Cardiff, telling coaches they played ‘a bit’
  • The club has signed both players and they have been granted asylum  

Two African rugby players who went on the run after the Commonwealth Games have been tracked down after being signed up to tiny club in Wales.

Benon Kizza and Phillip Pariyo disappeared after representing Uganda in the games held in Glasgow last August.

The sportsmen had not been heard from months, with the Ugandan Government investigating claims they had been working at a car wash in the Scottish city.

Benon Kizza (left) and Philip Pariyo (right) have resurfaced in Wales after joining St Peter’s RFC. The pair disappeared after representing Uganda at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games last August

But they have been found well and in work, with St Peters RFC in Cardiff signing the pair to their team.

‘We have signed them now and they are playing for us,’ said club chairman Joe Sweeney.

‘We have gone through all the bureaucratic procedures and everything and they are signed as St Peter’s players.’

Kizza and Pariyo vanished in August after taking part in the Games, failing to turn up to the airport for their flight home with the rest of the team.

Ugandan officials urged them to return to the country though neither man was heard from.

After travelling to Wales, one of the two approached St Peter’s RFC, telling staff he played ‘a bit’ of the sport.

‘One of the players approached our coach and mentioned he played a bit of rugby,’ added Mr Sweeney.

Both players have been signed up to St Peter's Club in Cardiff now. It was previously claimed they were working at a car wash in Glasgow

Both players have been signed up to St Peter’s Club in Cardiff now. It was previously claimed they were working at a car wash in Glasgow

‘It was noticed he was an extra gifted rugby player and we spoke to him about why he was here.

‘It transpired he had been at the Commonwealth Games playing for Uganda and while here, he and his mate decided to seek asylum.’

The Ugandan Rugby Union said it did not authorise the players’ joining the Welsh team

St Peter’s was contacted by Communities First, a Welsh Government body which fights poverty, and asked to approve their applications.

‘Because we are a community club we said yes,’ Mr Sweeney added.

A source close to the pair said they were happy to have been granted asylum and a new life in Britain, but that they were missing their families.

‘They were petrified of a potential backlash against them,’ the man, who did not want to be named, said.

‘When they found the club they were barely able to feed themselves.

‘Benon has a sick daughter back home.’

The Ugandan Rugby Union has hit out at the move, insisting it will make the pair return home.

‘They have not sought our authority as a union, they have not been cleared by the union,” Ugandan rugby coach Yayiro Kasasa said.

‘What happened is that when we came for the Commonwealth Games we signed a code of conduct in order to come over.

‘But they never returned to Uganda, they ran away.

‘They remained in the UK and broke our code of conduct.’

At the time Uganda’s sports minister, Charles Bakkabulindi, said: ‘We shall find them and make sure that they return home.’

The men have been signed to St Peter's RFC in Cardiff (above) and are believed to be living in the Welsh city

The men have been signed to St Peter’s RFC in Cardiff (above) and are believed to be living in the Welsh city

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