Keith Weraga attempts a tackle against Maxwell Ebonga

During the days before the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic when life was normal and people were able to go to work & children to school, Saturday afternoons used to be reserved for the beautiful game of rugby.

Adults, and the young alike, would make their way to the rugby grounds to catch their favourite teams in action as they battled for supremacy on the local scene.

For the fans, this action would get underway the moment the center referee blows his/her whistle but for the players selected to put their bodies on the line for 80 minutes of gruelling hits & tackles, it started a little earlier than that…maybe even days before.

The actions of the players in the hours leading up to kick off have a great impact on how they perform during the match. Players are advised to hydrate and rest enough on the night before the match, meditate and go through their notes in preparation. At more advanced levels, it even includes guided nutrition and physiotherapy.

In addition to these guidelines which vary from team to team and level to level, some players have their own pre-game ‘rituals’ that are part of their personal preparations. Maxwell Ebonga, captain Jinja Hippos, shares with Kawowo Sports his typical matchday when his team is playing a home game kicking off at 4.30PM local time at the Dam Waters Rugby Club in Jinja.

THE DAY BEFORE

I clean my kit on Friday evening and read my books for 2 hours from 7PM. Ebonga is a student at Nile Vocational Institute in Jinja where he is currently studying a course in plumbing.

At about 9PM, I have my dinner and watch some rugby games before I go to bed at about 11PM. Ebonga follows Super Rugby and supports Hurricanes, a franchise team from New Zealand.

GAMEDAY

The game-day routine is set by the club management but it is flexible enough to enable players to continue with their mental preparations and routines for the match.

Maxwell Ebonga

I wake up at 9AM and start my day. Breakfast at about 10AM, hydrating with water as I watch some rugby waiting to have my lunch.

The check-in time at the club is 2PM, so I leave at 12.30PM and take about 40 minutes to arrive from home. Once at the club, it’s time to bond with the other guys (teammates and coach) as we prepare for the game. I take a shower first so as to feel fresh again before I see our team doc[tor] for strapping.

I like to go to the shade to listen to listen to my favourite music up to about 2PM when we are now on the team’s program. Ebonga’s playlist has country music because it calms him down and puts him in the game mood.

After the game, depending on the mood in the team, I head out for the night with the boys to catch up over a few drinks and music.

THE DAY AFTER

The most part of this day is to rest and recover from the match. I don’t have anything specific I do apart from my normal personal obligations.

PLAYER PROFILE

  • Name: Ebonga Maxwell
  • D.O.B: January 24, 1997
  • Clubs played for: Jinja Hippos (3 seasons)
  • National Team Debut: 7s (Uganda U19 v French Army 2018), 15s (Elgon Cup 2019 in Kisumu)
  • Tries: 0

CURRENT SEASON STATS:

  • Games Played: 12
  • Tries Scored: 5
  • Kicks Converted: 11

Ernest Akorebirungi is an amateur rugby player and a keen follower of local Ugandan rugby.

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