KAMPALA- Uganda rugby superstar Phillip Wokorach is beaming off the pitch as is resolute on it.
He speaks with the promise of a young man who has clear bearings of where he is headed. How else would he have followed through with an opportunity, even when it was not as structurally assured? Even then, the 26-year-old young cousin of legend Michael Wokorach had to be in the right place, at the right time. Yet, even that was not enough.
He had to seize the opportunity when it presented itself last September in form of his first French side Bourges XV.
Seize the moment
“I believe in hard work,” said the – now - French rugby side, Association sportive de Bédarrides et Châteauneuf-du-Pape (ASBC), full back, “But also not forgetting God.”
He added: “But it all comes back to you. Opportunity comes once, and once you have the opportunity, you have to give it your best and you leave the rest to God.” Wokorach was giving advice to young athletes while sharing his rugby story that saw him dominate the game in Uganda and Kenya before landing an opportunity to move to France last year. He was speaking on NTV’s Monday night flagship show, the NTV Press Box.
“Once you are given a chance to play, give it your best. You never know who is watching,” he added, “Personally, to come to France, I didn’t know this guy (the person that helped him with connections).
“This guy followed me all the way from Amsterdam, where we played the Amsterdam 7s.” Then, in 2018, Wokorach propelled the Samurai to victory in the Amsterdam 7s.
The Samurai is an international invitational 7s side consisting of players from six countries namely New Zealand, England, Fiji, Kenya, and South Africa. Wokorach was playing in Kenya with Kabras Sugar at the time.
“I moved back to Kenya, the guy continued to follow me. I had never met him but we kept on chatting on Facebook, and when I reached France, he linked me to his team, and now we have been together here.”
It is close to a year, now, in France for Wokorach during which he has helped Bourges XV – the side he joined after leaving Kenya – earn progression to the Fourth Tier in French rugby.
His impressive performances at Bourges XV attracted the interest of third division ASBC, who signed him up in May ahead of the 2020/21 season. This is a man who has been there done it, and there is no doubt in his mind the transition to France could not have been more timely.
“I believe in God and God’s timing is always perfect. So I believe it was the right time for me because I had achieved everything I wanted to in Uganda, I won all the accolades in Kenya, so I needed a new challenge.
“And trust me, I had offers even before, but I believe God had a better plan for me, so today me being here is it.”
The Hana Mixed School alumni won every schools title there was to win before turning out at Stallions, Buffaloes and the Hima Heathens, where big spending Kenyan side Kabras Sugar snatched him in 2017.
The country’s prized player is known for his flashy feet and kicking, with his style winning him plaudits everywhere he has played.
His wish is to see several Wokorach(s) come through the ranks, and to this, he has a message for Ugandan rugby.
On his part, “I’m glad I have the opportunity now. This is the platform to continue moving up. Right now, my focus is not the money, but to continue learning up and money will come.”
On what Ugandan rugby leaders should do to improve productivity of players, he evoked guidance from his other love – football.
“I watch a lot of soccer,” he said, “And am a Cristiano Ronaldo fan. When Cristiano was playing under Zinedine Zidane (at Real Madrid), he performed to his best because Zinedine respected him. So if a player is given what he needs, he gives his best.”
Wokorach, who at one time had trials in England, has represented the 7s and 15s Cranes sides, as well as the Samurai 7s; the ride amassing him a wealth of experience, multiple individual accolades and memories. The story can only get better.
WOKORACH AT A GLANCE
Full Name: Phillip Wokorach
Date of Birth: Dec 31, 1993
Current club: ASBC Bédarrides XV (France)
Former clubs: Stallions RFC, Buffaloes RFC, Heathens RFC, Samurai (franchise side) , Kabras RFC (Kenya), Bourges XV (France)