By Agatha N Biira
When you think of rugby, it is quite rare to imagine that someone started playing it because they had been “dumped.” Well, for William Nkore, that was how his rugby journey started.
He started playing rugby in his senior two at St. Mary’s College Kisubi (SMACK) in 2011. Prior to that, Nkore was playing football for the school team. One might wonder why he decided to play rugby when he had already made it onto the school team.
In his senior two, the girl he was seeing at the time left him for the captain of the rugby team at Namilyango College. When he found out that it was all because of rugby, he asked himself, “What is so special about the game that is not in football?” “If he can do it, so can I.” Out of anger, Nkore started playing a game that has since turned into a passion.
The 26-year-old now plays as a halfback for both the Stanbic Black Pirates and the Uganda Rugby 7s teams, a role that requires him to decide what happens on the pitch.
One of his teammates describes Desire Ayera as a very expressive player with a lot of theatrics. “He knows how to attack and break defenses.” “His sharp and quick thinking have helped both the national and Pirates teams time and again,” he said. “Outside of the game, he is a cocky guy with jokes up his sleeve, but he is a smart worker who aims for results.”
Contrary to that, Raymond Conrad Mukwaya, one of his friends, said, “Regardless of being a timid player, Nkore has been able to play better because he has found a solution to pass the opponents.” “He found the easy ways to play rugby and made it look very easy.”
As a child, Nkore played cricket and table tennis, taking after his father, who was a 400-meter sprinter and a table tennis player too. While at SMACK, Nkore played for the rugby school team, where he took part in the East Africa School Games in 2013 and the National School Games in 2015.
He also took part in the Under-19 National Tournaments in Madagascar and Zimbabwe in 2016. In 2015, he started playing for the Stanley Black Pirates, a team he has been part of to date.
After joining Uganda Christian University (UCU) in 2016 to pursue a Bachelor of Laws, Nkore became part of the university team, where they won the inter-university 7s games in 2017 and also came second in the national games in 2019.
Timothy Kisiga, Nkore’s teammate, says he is a very intelligent man. “I have witnessed his growth over the past decade. He approaches every opportunity with a great deal of belief in himself, and whatever he does, he always strives to have fun. “I guess that’s his way of staying motivated and committed to his undertakings,” he said.
Nkore recalls a time when he thought about quitting rugby. During one of the training sessions in 2018, two of the players landed on him when he was on the ground. “I blacked out for about 10 minutes. “My teammates say I was not breathing,” he said. “When I woke up, I didn’t understand why my teammates were standing far away from me. “I thought I had just fallen on the ground, closed my eyes for a second, and came back.”
When he was taken to the hospital, he realized he had a high-grade concussion, cracked four of his teeth, and also dislocated his shoulder. “I was sidelined for three months. “I didn’t know whether I should be sad or happy,” he said. He remembers his parents telling him to find another sport after that incident, but he didn’t. He continued playing rugby after he had recovered.
While in school, his greatest challenge was commitment. Having joined UCU at a time when rugby players had a bad reputation, Nkore decided that he would be a different kind of athlete. “I wanted to show people that you can play rugby, do well in class,
Now that he is working, balancing work and the sport is a bit challenging. However, he is grateful to his friends and teammates, especially the 7s team, for their support. “When you have peers that are equally determined, you lift each other up when there are challenges,” he said.
Through rugby, he has been able to become a respectful sportsman, get job opportunities, and make friends. “Most of my friends now are way older than me. “But because of rugby, people appreciate your talent and respect you,” he said.
After playing for over 10 years, Nkore says it’s about time he focused on his career. He intends to continue playing rugby, which will inspire the younger boys. “I think I have achieved all the goals I set when I was starting out.” “My dream was to represent my country, and I have,” he said. “I don’t want to leave when people are tired of me. I want to continue playing, but not actively.”