On Saturday, Schools Rugby’s biggest stage was set at Kyadondo Rugby Grounds. Namilyango College, St Mary’s College Kisubi and Kings College Budo were the only schools present, being the only ones that made it to the finals in the U15, 17 and 19 categories out of a pool of eight. Namilyango had a hand above the other two, being in all three finals, Budo in two and SMACK in one.

The juniors started the action in the U15 game. The finalists were SMACK, up against NGO. It was a tight game as the 03-00 score line in favour of NGO suggested. The game had to be played up to the very last minute, and a late drop goal enabled the Ngonians to whisk it off.

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Namilyango U15 side receiving their medals

The U17 game brought with it a different twist. Budo were buoyant, having won convincingly against a much favoured Kololo SS side in the semi-finals. However, Namilyango had too much in the locker for the Budonians to keep them at bay, running in 23 points, while clinically holding their defence to deny Budo any points.

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Namilyango U17 celebrate with their trophy

Then we were in for the senior game. When the league this year started, many had predicted this final. The captains, Fahad Matovu (NGO) and Timothy Kasozi (Budo) had been very excellent leaders, and the flyhalves Hillary Kisitu (NGO) and Hans Kakira (Budo) presented a showdown to watch. From the back, Fullbacks Kinyera Emmanuel (NGO) and Benton Gava (Budo) had been terrific watchers, whose darting runs had seen them score some eye-catching tries. On paper, we were in for a real challenge.

The senior teams line up ahead of the final game

Namilyango had different ideas. A deep kick off from Kisitu got Budo on the defensive, conceding an early penalty that he duly converted. Minutes later, Kinyera was ripping apart the Budo defence, an augmenting run that started from just behind the halfway line culminating into an epic solo try by the poles. Kisitu got the extras, and Namilyango was 10:00 ahead, totally in the driving seat into half time.

Budo’s Mukisa Enoch in a scuffle with NGO’s Osuna Mark

On return, the leading side continued from where proceedings had been halted. Osuna Mark registered a successful pick and drive, continuing the dominance. Captain Fahad Matovu then got on top of another ruck, twisting and turning past a couple of defenders to score below the poles. Substitute fly half Nazo Kevin wrapped up the show with the conversion, bringing the score to 22:00, a score maintained to the end.

Budo’s Malinga Allan chased by a pack of Ngonians

The game did not go all smooth for NGO. Full back Kinyera had to be replaced shortly after his try as he suffered a pulled hamstring. Budo too lost Benton Gava who suffered a minor concussion after a collision in the build-up to the second Namilyango try.

Kinyera Emmanuel, NGO’s semis and finals hero

USRA chairman Valence Bizimana congratulated the winning team, and thanked all the other schools for participating. The win also saw Namilyango cement their place as the most successful rugby playing school, lifting their 10th Schools title, twice as many trophies as their opponents Budo.