Schools Rugby U20 results
•Namilyango College 23-24 St Mary’s college Kisubu
•Kings college Budo 48- 18 Makerere College
•Light Academy 10- 12 St Peters’ Naalya
•London College 00-59 Hana International
In what can only be described as an epic encounter, two of the best sides in Ugandan schools rugby, Namilyango College (NGO) and St Mary’s College Kisubi (SMACK) faced off in a thrilling schools rugby game that left fans on the edge of their seats on 25th March, 2023.
This match had been eagerly anticipated, with both teams boasting impressive records and a fierce rivalry that only added to the intensity of the occasion.
SMACK, having won the first leg at home, were looking to cement superiority on and disapprove NGO’s pride in being the best rugby school in the country by trampling on their dreams, on their well re-known home turf, The Wellington Grounds.
From the opening whistle, it was clear that both teams were in it to win it.
The first half was a closely contested affair, with neither side being able to take a decisive advantage. Both teams defended resolutely, with neither able to fully dominate the other’s defence.
Namilyango drew first blood with a well executed drop goal before a series of PDs from SMACK set up a five pointer to send the game to 3-5.
The hosts were awarded a penalty which was successfully taken putting themselves back into the lead at 6-5.
SMACK would then reply through their pack who dug deep to send the Eagles back into the lead with a converted try, 6:12.
Reckless fielding by the visitors gifted Namilyango the opportunity to cross the white wash, score their first try and reclaim the lead at 13-12.
As the scoreboard leadership kept taking turns, just a few minutes shy of the break, SMACK was able to slot in a penalty to snatch the halftime bragging rights and lead from their rivals and hence went into halftime with a 13-15 lead.
As the second half got underway, it was SMACK who seized the initiative, pressing hard and asking questions off the Namilyango defence.
Like in the first half, the home side still registered the first points by splitting the uprights to make it 16-15.
SMACK however, was not to be denied. They rallied and scored two more penalties in quick succession, putting them back in front by 5 points, 15-21.
NGO fought hard to get back into the game, but SMACK’s defence held firm and with only two minutes left on the clock, the record champions were able to break down the solid defence and score the crucial try they needed, a successful conversion would then send the home crowd into a frenzy thinking that the game had been sealed at 21-23.
Composure and patience from their SMACK side got them to keep pushing and well, the rugby belief “It is not over, until the final whistle is blown” saw SMACK win themselves a penalty inside their own half.
In a moment where it was “all or nothing”, the visitors decided to kick for poles and risk their pride on a kick that looked an impossibility to all.
It is written in the stars they say. In what would later turn out to be the last kick of the game, the kicker slotted in the 55m penalty creating deafening silence in the Wellington Gardens.
As the final whistle blew, the SMACK fans erupted in celebration, while the Namilyango supporters were left devastated.
The final score of 23-24 was a fair reflection of a match that could have gone either way.
SMACK’s victory means that they move on to the knock out stages for the semi-final round and stand a chance at playing at the East African games while for Namilyango, for the first time in decades, the loss meant they do not proceed into the semi finals and the young lads’ dream of playing in the knockouts is squashed as they stand third in the group after groups leaders SMACK and first runners up Hana.
It was a fitting end to a match that was played in the true spirit of rugby, with both teams giving their all and leaving everything on the field.
The SMACK players can be proud of their performance, while the Namilyango players will no doubt be disappointed, but they can hold their heads high knowing they gave it their all.
Overall, it was a thrilling encounter between two great schools rugby teams, and a match that will live long in the memory of all who were lucky enough to witness it, for at Wellington Grounds, Namilyango was preyed on by their biggest rival.