What a brilliant two and a half months of schools rugby it has been; joy, sorrow, pride and more pride, the rebirth of old rivalries and from the editorial desk, there are many talking points and so much to share from observation:
1. East Or West, Home Is Best
It doesn’t matter where or at what point in your life you are, rugby love struck deepest when many of the revelers and stakeholders were in school and it has shown this season. This season has seen old students return to their former schools and alma maters to train, support and show camaraderie, all because they speak a similar language – rugby. Those that could not return or make the trips in person, always kept up with updates via “Mr Google Sir” and what a great season it has been. School boy rugby has deeper roots and attachment than club rugby – if you want to argue, we are in office. Come tomorrow.
2. Record breaking season
The list of former schools champions has been shared with Ngonians claiming they are 11 titles strong, and Smackists can’t touch them, but that is just oral tradition and we dare say that anything Before Kratos (BK) era doesn’t count. As far as we are concerned, there has been one schools rugby champion in the U20 category and that is SMACK. Apart from SMACK being the first recorded champions, there have been many milestones reached by the Kratos team i.e. schools rugby games have had the most engagement, more than your favorite clubs playing against each other and put together.
3. Paul Sekatte is the man
Of every title (3) that SMACK have won, Dr Paul Sekatte has had a hand in it. The first title, won 10 years ago, he was a part of the team. In 2016, he had left SMACK as a student and returned as a coach, winning it again this year in the same spirit as coach. He joins a very short list of people that have won it both as player and as coach. This list contains names like Emmanuel “Emwalk” Walakira, Kakuru “Payo” Ambrose, Katendeko “Dexter” Kamukama and now Ivan “Gomus” Magomu.
4. Namilyango-Smack rivalry like never before
From the get-go, it looked like we would be having a finale of Namilyango College and St Mary’s College Kisubi and boy did we get it. The build-up was heated and alumni from both sides turned up for their schools. At the sound of the anthems, everyone was up and in song; amazing how people’s memory still has files of school anthems stored. With every move from either side, came applause simultaneously accompanied with boos from opposing camps.The stands were actually for standing, as no one was seated. Everyone at Legends was up on their feet cheering. At full time, it was all SMACK in jubilation, banging chests like King Kong, while Ngonians held their heads in their hands, wallowing and eating humble pie. If ever there was a game to remind us of the importance of school boy rugby, it was last weekend’s finale between the Smackists and Ngonians.
5. 2 out of 3 doesn’t matter. It’s the one that got away that counts
Namilyango College started the day on high note, claiming two categories i.e U15 and U17 and were in pole position to make a clean sweep of the day. SMACK had other ideas and at full time, SMACK were 14-00 winners, and disappointment writ large on the Ngonians faces, players and fans alike. The two trophies won earlier did not matter. Being the stand-out in the record books, it meant that Namilyango had to wait another year to win their twelfth while SMACK had added a third to their collection.
6. Captain Like Ahumuza Chekie
“How is Chekie SMACK’s eighth man? Honestly, he should be at the front-row.” That and many other comments were thrown around when people made out the frame of SMACK’s skipper but his consistency throughout the entire season has seen his team bring home a third crown. Chekie was in running for Mr Consistency against Namilyango College’s Black Jesus aka Opio Ezekiel but after a defensive shift, and scoring a try in almost every game including the one that put the game beyond reach for Namilyango College, the big man was announced the most valuable rugby player this 2019.
7. Calvin Musoke and a boot made in Oz.
Kicking in the schools competition is just as bad as in the club league. Games have been decided by one kick since time immemorial. Step-up Calvin Musoke. SMACK has always had a good kicker that “is supposed” to choke in a big game. Not Calvin! When Namilyango were trying to pile pressure and then knocking the ball forward, Calvin was the man that punished them and pushed SMACK ahead. He always found gaps in Namilyango’s defense line with inch-perfect fielding. Lest we forget, Musoke out in two long range penalties, and another before assisting Chekie for SMACK’s try.
It is sad that we won’t be seeing Calvin around for much longer as he is poised to fly abroad after his A level studies at SMACK.
8. No Mugume-Kakula, No Party!
Namilyango College had no kicker on the day. Opio Ezekiel failed to fill the boots of center Mugume Andrew. Mugume was absent during the semi-finals but his absence was felt a week later in the finale. While SMACK had Calvin kicking like he was born to do just that, Opio Ezekiel had no reply. Andrew’s boots were too big for him.
Namilyango College has an explosive back-line and the best way to nullify their activity was playing short and with the forwards. In the absence of injured Frank Kakula, the Ngonians were without their most performing forward and ball carrier. Advantage SMACK. They forced many errors among the Ngonians and the resulting kicks were well executed by Calvin Musoke.