Name: Epillo Paul Emmanuel
Position: Fly half / Utility Back
Club: Hima Cement Heathens (currently), Toyota Buffaloes
Leadership role: Captained Toyota Buffaloes at the recently concluded National 7’s series,
Captain U-19 baby Cranes 2014, Among the team leaders in Heathens.
Caps/ international engagements
Played for Uganda at the Safari 7’s 2018
Represented Uganda at the FISU World University 7s in Namibia
Played at the U-19 tier 1B in Tunisia 2013 and Kampala 2014
Played at the U-19 tier 1A in Zimbabwe 2015
Played for Uganda’s U-19 at the Safari 7’s in 2014 and 2015
Early LifeI grew up in the former Nakawa quarters and attended Kalinaabiri Primary School, then later joined Kyambogo College School for both O and A level.
The proximity of the Nakawa Quarters to kyadondo led Paul and his friends to Coach Christine Kizito who enrolled them into the tag rugby program. Just like any normal parents, mine were against rugby and they took me to boarding school.
“The challenge was real but Joining Kyambogo College gave me an opportunity to play rugby again. In my s4 vac, despite my small size, my buddies encouraged me to join tigers at kyadondo that was being coached by Soggy…In my first season, I remember we lost all games especially the 96-03 loss to stallions..haha”
“The second season was a little better as we put up a good show especially in the 7’s when we beat summerKamp, Pirates and Impis. We won the Bowl trophy at impis grounds under the captaincy of Nyeko George aka langalanga (R.I.P)”
Back at Kyambogo, under the stewardship of Otim Allan, the sport had started to grow to bigger heights where Kyambogo was having a good season, they reached the semifinals but lost to Hana Mixed school. Syrus Wathum, OKia Solomon and Epilo were selected to represent Uganda U-19 in Tunis that year.
After exposure to high school, Epillo joined Stallions shortly before popular coach Robert sseguya pushed the young lad to join Toyota Buffaloes. Paul Epillo has won numerous man of the match awards among various other individual and team accolades.
“Christine Kizito, Stesh , Robert Sseguya helped me develop this talent; Edgar Lemerigar, Coach Tolbert and then the teammates who continue motivating me even when things seem not to be going as planned. Solomon Okia, Manano alhajji, Nyeko Simon, Tago Isaac , syrus Wathum, Frank kidega and Jerome Buyonga have all gone on to feature for their clubs in the league.”
Life outside Rugby
“I am doing I.T at Uganda Martyrs University Nkozi , and when not at school, i am at the farm helping out my parents.”
Balancing Rugby and life
“I think it’s about priorities and not making excuses. Allocate time for each activity and make sure you stick to schedule, that way balancing becomes easier.”
Favourite Rugby Moment
“In 2014, when we won the tier 1B u-19 championship at kyadondo….i still remember that day like it was yesterday”
Worst rugby moment
“Back at Buffaloes, we lost to Heathens 3-0 in the Uganda cup semifinals, I couldn’t help shedding a tear after that game..it took me some good time to get back to the game.”
Rugby role models in the sport
Fiji rugby’s Savenaca Rawacca and Pio Tuwai
Role model general life
“My parents….they have been supportive in my rugby journey all through.”
International– Beauden Barrett
Future rugby aspirations
“I look forward to playing on the 15’s team and also at the world 7’s series”
Changes to the sport to make if you had the power
“Develop structures for grassroot rugby, increase transparency and accountability between the players and the Union. Everyone is a stakeholder and has to play their part for the good of the sport.”
Message to the Fans
“I appreciate all the support, though results sometimes don’t go our way, you continue pushing us and hoping for the best, we shall continue to strive to make you proud, both on and off pitch”
Message to other players looking to be where I am
“Never stop believing in your potential, a person maybe more talented than you, but there is no excuse for someone to work harder than you. Always remember hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. But above all….God should always come first in everything.”