After some high intense, off the edge rugby from the semi finals the previous weekend where powerhouse Namilyango had to recover from an early shocker to narrowly pip Makerere college plus events through out the week with the discovery of an ineligible player that had premature finalists Kololo SS disqualified, the finals were set to be the sole source of attention for all rugby romantics after a topsy turvy 7 days.
With kyadondo yet again mudded by the night rains, all the sun could do was provide a bright shine as the pitch remained in bad condition. Nonetheless rugby had to continue with all schools checking in as early as 11am for a full player scrutiny on eligibility issues after the Uganda Schools Rugby Association (USRA) received some stick for its current assessment system.
When all the paperwork was confirmed, rugby had to be played with Namilyango featuring in all three age grade categories showing just how dominant they have been this season. Under 15 up first as Ngo took on rivals SMACK with the eaglets trying to salvage something from a season the weevils will hope to forget as quick as their seniors exited it. A tight contest by the Tigons and eaglets was settled by a solitary Namilyango drop goal to end the match 3-0 and hand the fumblers the first trophy of the day. Kudos to the St. Mary’s Kisubi team for the spirited fight.
A break followed with further scrutiny of identification and ages to ensure clarity. Soon after the under 17s were on the pitch with Budo facing the Ngonians this time round and different from the story of the U15s, the near seniors from Namilyango were more ruthless and showed more hunger leading the Budonians 10-00 at half time and adding a couple of tries to see off the junior lions 23-00. Title number two for Ngo on the day.
Finally the game of the day arrived with the crowds now full at the kyadondo grounds, more like a meet and greet for various alumni and other rugby admirers. Coach Mukama Dexter must have had some stern words for his anchors after a mediocre showing last weekend that nearly cost them a finals spot and on the other side coach Dennis Etuket had a lot to prove after getting to the final through “back room politics” and not through the field, rightly so or not, he had to show that his lions were worthy finalists.
Quick trivia for the under 19s was that the two finalists are the schools with the highest number of school’s rugby trophies since its inauguration with Budo at five and Namilyango having bagged nine and hoping to extend to double figures. Will it be their time to take the trophy home after an uncharacteristic 5 year wait.
The triumphant u19 Namilyango anchors
The teams came on the pitch clad in their customary colours, anthems were respectfully and passionately sang by the players, supporting students and the alumni that could recall. Kick off and from the get go one could easily tell that the Ngonians were taking this very seriously, a total contrast to the semi final display, this time they were pressing hard, tackling hard and carrying ball with purpose, all being orchestrated by lynchpin number 10 Kisitu Hillary who seemed to be sharper and more focussed this time round.
Before long, Namilyango had established dominance of the game with clearly set structure play from the forwards who carried multiple phases and Kisitu distributing to the backs and kicking intelligently to pin the lions in their half for majority of the time. Soon thereafter Ngo won its first penalty that Kisitu cooly converted to put his side 03-00 up. Budo’s only commendable work came in the scrum downs where the Ngonians were finding it hard to push against the visibly heavier Budo pack but for all the scrummaging efforts, no result was shown. As play continued to be dictated by the fumblers, Kinyera Emmanuel yet again showcased his quick feet and side stepping skills to artfully dance past the Budonians and score in the middle of the posts giving Kisitu an easy conversion. 10-00 Namilyango.
Budo number 10 Hans Kakira in action
Budo number ten Hans Kakira was given a series of penalties but couldn’t find his kicking boots hence condemning his side to go into the half time break scoreless with Ngo leading 10-00.
The second half began as the first with more intelligent territory kicking by Kisitu to pin the Budonians in their half. The Budonians at this point had only visited the Namilyango 22 metre area twice since the first half showing just how commanding Ngo was and were quick to show it again when they won a penalty against Budo but this time Kisitu skewing it wide. However moments later a Nuwagaba Colleb power run was stopped by Budo defenders a few metres from the try line but from the next phase of play Namilyango #12 Osuna Mark crossed to score the anchors’ second of the day with Kisitu missing the conversion. 15-00 to Namilyango.
Namilyango forwards tussle with a Budo prop
The game continued with the story pretty much the same as the Budonians seemed to disappear even more in the game and it started to look a lot more one sided at this point with most of their fans visibly dismayed. More possession of the ball from Namilyango as they continued to carry endless phases to the Budonians and bombard them with the territorial high balls that always found an out of sorts Budo back three that messed up in the fielding hence pinning them further in their half and at this point the changes started to come in for both sides.
Moments later Namilyango had something to show for all their territory and possession when captain Fahad Matovu burrowed in for Namilyango’s third try of the day and the conversion successfully taken by substitute fly half Nazo Kevin to put Ngo 22-00 up.
Osuna Mark of Namilyango goes low for the dive tackle
A last minute Budo surge to salvage a score for the lions was shattered short of the anchors try line as a last ditch tackle stopped the advancing Budo winger from reaching the white line on what was only their forth visit to the Namilyango 22 area all game long. From the resulting play, Namilyango showed yet again ruthless defending to cap off a memorable tenth schools title as the final whistle was blown sending all fans onto the pitch to congratulate their heroes for returning the coveted trophy home.
The u17 Ngonians celebrating a sweet victory