Richard Omwela's tenure as Kenya Rugby Union Chair will lapse in mid-March 2019 ushering in the opportunity for a new boss to the Ngong Road based Federation.
Omwela will be concluding his second straight two-year term then pave way for new dispensation at the Union. His next focus thereafter will be on the continental body Rugby Afrique where he will be gunning for the Vice Chair’s post.
During a Kenya 7s team naming on Wednesday 16 January, 2019, Omwela confirmed he will be gone as the boss of Kenyan rugby in March but would be happy to serve in any other capacity that will uplift the game.
"Its official I will not be defending my seat as Chairman or President of the Union,"
"This is again part of succession planning. Rugby is not about Richard Omwela and Richard Omwela in not about rugby. I think I have been around long enough and I think it is time to have a fresh thinking and possibly a new chairman who is better than me,"
"We have had many possible chairmen, we have had one who has taken us round and we are still paying debts. We go into the AGM in March and yes let’s have a new chairman for the next couple of years,"
Omwela, a former Kakamega High School lad first served as the KRU chair for eight years from 2003 to 2011. He was re-elected back in office in March 2015 by beating acting Chair Gabriel Ouko 25 to 18 votes to return at the helm of the Union for yet another stint to 'clean the mess'. He earned another two-year term in mid-March 2017 after seeing off Alex Sasha Mutai a close 25 to 23 votes for his current, and final term.
Omwela first stepped up to the KRU’s high office on the last day of February 2003 at a stormy AGM after seeing off David Mshilla 10 to nine votes to take over the armband as boss from long serving George Kariuki. Till then he had been the Secretary General at the Union from 1998.
His eight year contiguous reign as chair came to a rude end in March 2011 after being felled by ex-international Michael Mwangi Muthee 15 to nine votes at another AGM. Muthee was to resign in December of 2014 paving way for Ouko as interim boss. The former Quins and Kenya 7s star held forte till the next AGM of 2015.
What will he do next for the game?
"In terms of what I will do, I very much want to be involved in the game to give whatever support I can in terms of contacts that I have in the corporate circles to continue to nurture some of those contracts. I will be very much around to support the game,"
“At a different level, hopefully, if Uganda make up their mind about the Vice Presidency (Rugby Afrique), then I will run for it. If not, I will want to stay aside and let the game continue."
With Omwela confirmed out in March, questions are; who will be the next KRU Chair?
Word on the ground has it that Sasha Mutai, a former Vice Chair at KRU, already has his hat in the ring. Mutai was a KRU board member in the years 2006-2008, and was a Vice Chair for two years till the AGM of March 2014 where he lost out 22 to 21 votes to Philip Jalang’o.
On 10 February 2015 he was voted in as interim chair of KRU in a Special General Meeting (SGM) taking over from acting Chair Gabriel Ouko. The SGM was later dubbed ‘improper’ and ‘unconstitutional’ and the new office bearers were all barred from taking office. Many instances within five weeks from that SGM, including a dismissed court injunction, saw a proper AGM take place in March of that year from where Omwela returned to office.
It’s also believed former Kabras Sugar chair Ray Olendo, the current National Squads and Elite Performance director at KRU is also in the running to be the big wheel at the Union. The same has been said of Ezekiel Owuor, current Director of Commercial Services at the Union.
Both Olendo and Owuor were elected in March 2017 to join the KRU Board as Omwela successfully defended his seat. They joined newcomer Sylvia Kamau and Ian Mugambi who retained his seat.
Also said to be in the running is Nakuru RFC alumna and former KRU Director Andrew Mukite Musangi who has lately been serving the Union as a member of its judicial panel.
Wind has it that current Honorary Secretary Geoffrey Oduor Gangla is also in for the post as part of the succession plan. He came to office in March 2016 by taking down Steve Sewe 48 to seven votes and retained his docket two years later by seeing off former KRU CEO Jack Okoth 50 to five votes in March 2018.
Gangla came in under the ‘Team Change’ sails in 2016 that saw Thomas Opiyo, Joshua Aroni and John Kilonzo take up office as Vice Chair, Treasurer and Director, in that order, to hand Omwela real comfort and an effective functional board.