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News and intrigues that made Kenyan Rugby in 2019
By Patrick Korir | Tue 31 Dec, 2019 23:59

News and intrigues that made Kenyan Rugby in 2019

Kenya Lionesses and Kenya 7s qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Japan, Kenya U20 overcoming rivals Namibia to lift the Barthes Cup were outright upsides of Kenyan rugby in 2019.

On the individual front, Jeff Oluoch scooping the DHL Impact player at Hong Kong, Andrew Amonde receiving Head of State Commendation (HSC), Janet Okello claiming a double at the 7th edition Magharibi Michezo Awards were all part of the special mentions for the year.

A star studded Kabras failing to home outwit KCB in the Kenya Cup final on home soil, but later seeing them off of the first time ever into the new season, elevation of Kisumu RFC and Western Bulls to the Kenya Cup, and the relegation of Mean Machine and Strathmore, Northern Suburbs winning the Nationwide League all headlined the news fronts.

The Walgwe siblings; Tom and Victor. became the crème de la crème in school’s rugby coaching with a chain of titles that handed them nominations in the schools’ coaches Sports Personality of the Year awards (SOYA). For firsts, Tom lifted the Schools National 7s title & East African 7s title with Upper Hill as Victor picked Blackrock with Dagoretti before taking them to the Prescott Cup final.

Still on schools, Laiser Hill was named School team of the year at the year opening SOYA with their coach Kevin Wambua emerging second in the coaches category.

Paul Odera kept it trending. A month after formulating how to beat Namibia to the Barthes Cup (Africa U20), he is confirmed the Kenya 15s coach becoming the first local after years to the scene. And after radical changes, he goes on to retain the Elgon Cup and rest Silver at the returning Victoria Cup.

Politics. In came Geoffrey Oduor Gangla as the top dog of Kenya Rugby Union after the exit of long serving Richard Omwela.

And the unthinkable. Kenya 7s fighting relegation in the 2018/19 HSBC World Sevens Series. It took the return of core players at Paris 7s, the season-ender, to lift the team to the first quarters of the year to survive it.

That, due to downing of tools by senior players early own in the wake of lack of sponsors at the Union, were the bright downside of the game. And bereavements.

We take ablow by blow account of the happenings in Kenyan Rugby in 2019, month by month.

January

  • Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) terminates contract of Kenya Simbas coach Ian Snook from New Zealand
  • Laiser Hill named School team of the year at the annual Sports Personality of the Year awards (SOYA). Their coach Kevin Wambua came second in the coaches category. Kenya Lionesses were second in the teams category as Kenya Harlequin flyer Willy Ambaka and Janet ‘Shebesh’ Okello were third in Sportsman of the year awards.
  • KRU officially confirmed Sylvia Kamau as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for a year starting 1st January, 2019.

February

  • Impala Saracens fullback Richard Sidindi passes on during a routine swimming exercise at the clubs’ pool.

March

  • Mean Machine sent packing from Kenya Cup after a 25-10 defeat to Impala at RFUEA grounds. They had just returned to the topflight after winning the championship the year before.
  • USIU announce the demise of winger Derrick Obiero

April

  • Upper Hill dethrones Laiser Hill with a 10-5 win in Mombasa to win first ever National 7s Schools title. St. Peters Mumias emerge third after a 19-5 win over Vihiga United. There was tragedy at prior to the event as a student from the participating schools drowned at the Indian ocean
  • Kenya U20, skippered by Bonface Ochieng, and coached by Paul Odera, shock champions Namibia 21-18 at KCB Sports Club to win the Africa U20 Trophy (Barthes Cup) to qualify for the World Junior Trophy.
  • Jeff Oluoch racks up a total of 52 points on 13 tackles, 6 breaks, 7 offloads and 26 carries to be named the Hong Kong 7s DHL Impact Player

May

  • A Lenny Obiero three-pointer in extra time earns Kisumu RFC promotion back to the Kenya Cup at the expense of hosts Catholic Monks. The two were tied 11-11 during the championship semis. They joined Western Bulls who saw off another host USIU 16-12 in the other promotion game.
  • Once again KCB beats Kabras Sugar to lift the Cup for a third straight year, their seventh title. Winger Jacob Ojee scored an incredible 18 points as KCB rallied from 15-7 to win it 23-15 at the Kakamega Showground. Unbeaten KCB II sees off Homeboyz 11-5 to retain the Eric Shirley Shield (ESS) title.
  • Kabras Sugar wins first ever Enterprise Cup after nailing Impala Saracens 37-7 at the RFUEA grounds. They made it a Kabras double as their junior team had earlier own beaten Strathmore Leos 40-27 to lift the Mwamba Cup.
  • Dagoretti High wins first ever Blackrock title after knocking out Rift Valley Academy (RVA) 26-0 in the final
  • Paul Odera confirmed as the new Kenya Simbas (15s) Coach. His backroom staff includes Jimmy Mnene (TM), Ben Mahinda (Physio), Edwin Boit (Analyst), Michael Owino (S & C), Albertus Van Buuren (Backs Coach)
  • Homeboyz confirms South African Hector Jason as their new coach for the season.
  • Northern Suburbs Cubs declared the 2018/19 Nationwide at Catholic University with a walkover over a no show Eldoret RFC int he final.

June

  • After nine failed attempts. Kenya 7s saved best for last at Paris 7s to qualify for a first Cup quarterfinals to survive relegation and maintain their core status in the HSBC World Sevens Series. Andrew Amonde earned a record 70th series cap at the event

July

  • KCB flyer Jacob Ojee named Startimes Player of the Month
  • Menengai Oliers beat hometown neighbors and foes Nakuru RFC 14-12 to win Embu 7s
  • Upper Hill School beats Dagoretti High 13-10 at St. Mary’s School to win the prestigious Prescott Cup for a fourth straight year as Kakamega High beat Busia’s Koyonzo 8-7 to win the Western edition.
  • Laiser Hill won Damu Pevu to be promoted to the Prescott Cup as Mangu High Damu Changa.
  • Strathmore School, survivors in two previous Prescott Cup playoffs, are third time unluck as they are relegated following a 36-22 defeat to Nairobi School
  • KCB ‘docked points’ then relegated, but later reinstated and go all the way to win Kakamega 7s, the opening leg of the Stanbic Bank National Sevens Circuit.
  • Kenya Lionesses win the returning Elgon Cup 79-19 over their counterparts Uganda after winning the reverse tie in Kampala 35-5. They had won the first leg 44-14 in Nairobi. The Cup leads the team to high World ranking of position 28
  • Kenya Simbas retain Elgon Cup with a 29-21 aggregate win following a 16-5 win over the hosts in Kampala. They had been beaten 16-13 in the first leg in Kisumu.
  • Kenya U20 end up sixth at the World Junior trophy in Uruguay after a 52-13 fall to Canada. The team lost 63-11 to the hosts in their opener, before seeing off Brazil 26-24 in the second game. A 38-24 loss to Japan sent the team to a fifth-place playoff with Canada.

August

  • Kakamega High School lifts the East African 15s school title in Tanzania ahead of fierce foes Dagoretti High School as Upper Hill School scooped their maiden regional 7s title after seeing off rivals Laiser Hill 17-14 in a deciding match.
  • Kenya Lionesses sent to the Repechage against Soutn American opposition for a place in the 2021 World Cup after going down 39-0 to host South Africa in the automatic African qualifier.
  • Two rugby stars Frank Wanyama and Alex Olaba jailed sentenced to 15 years jail term after being found guilty of gang rape. The ruling by Chief Magistrate Martha Mutuku ended a 15-months trial.

September

  • Kenya Harlequin announces the resignation of head coach Charles Cardovillis. He is later replaced by his assistant Dominic Papa Habimana.
  • Cardovillis and team manager Godfrey Okoth are suspended for 12 weeks from all rugby activities by Kenya Rugby Union following the outcome of their misconduct case.
  • KCB beats Impala 26-21 in Mombasa to scoop Driftwood 7s, the sixth and final leg of Stanbic 7s National Sevens Circuit to win the overall title with 116 points, their first since 2014. The title came with a cool Kshs 500,000 prize purse. Prinsloo and Kabeberi champions finished second with 92 points, same as 2018 champions Homeboyz.
  • Tusker announce a Kshs 115m association with Kenya Rugby Union, Kshs 37.5 m in cash for Safari 7s, Kenya 7s shirt, Kenya Lionesses and 5m for internationals
  • Kenya Simbas settles for silver in the returning four-nations Victoria Cup after a memorable 36-14 win over champions Zimbabwe in a historic game at the Nakuru Athletics Club. KCB’s Vincent Onyala was named MVP
  • New Zealander Paul Feeney unveiled as Technical Director of Kenya 7s Programme. It effectively ends Paul Murunga’s tenure
  • World famous Barbarians FC names two Kenyans Willy Ambaka and Oscar Ouma for the inaugural Rugby X to be held in London in October

October

  • Mitch Ochola arrives back at boyhood club Impala as coach to take over from Frank Ndong after quitting Nakuru RFC. He is replaced at Wanyore by Felix Oloo. Further coaching changes sees the arrival of Ugandan Brian Makalama who takes over from Howard Okwemba at promoted Kisumu RFC as Solomon Obiero takes over from Bram Shikanda at Western Bulls, and Bernard Rotich from Michael ‘Tank’ Otieno at Blak Blad
  • Kenya Lionesses score another first in qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Japan after making it to the final of the Women Africa Cup in Tunisia
  • Kenya Morans shock South Africa 19-14 to lift the Safari 7s at the RFUEA Grounds.
  • Auctioneers raid KRU offices off Ngong Road over unpaid dues partially unsettled due to Government’s failure to honor their budget request
  • KCB won the Floodies for a third year in a row beating Menengai Oilers 23-14 at Impala Club. Strathmore Leos claimed the Universities title over Mean Machine as Ofafa Jericho beat Muhuri Muchiri to the schools title.

November

  • Kabras Sugar scores a first, beating foes KCB for the first ever in the Kenya Cup in eleven attempts, during a match day eight game at the latter’s den. They won it 19-6 under heavy rains.
  • Kenya 7s flatten Uganda 31-0 in South Africa to reclaim the Africa 7s Cup to join the Lionesses in the 2020 Olympics in Japan

December

  • Walgwe siblings – Tom and Victor – respective coaches for Upper Hill and Dagoretti High, as well as Amos Wamanga of Kakamega High, are nominated for the next schools’ coaches SOYA awards
  • Alvine ‘Buffa’ Otieno of Homeboyz named to Cape Town 7s dream team as Kenya ends up sixth. He became only the fourth Kenya to a Cape dream team after Willy Ambaka & Collins Injera (2015) and Billy Odhiambo in 2016
  • Strathmore Leos announce Louis  ‘Fathe’ Kisia as their new head coach taking over from John Mbai
  • KCB and Kenya back rower Andrew Noel Amonde receives Head of State Commendation (HSC) Civilian division for his unrelenting service in both Kenya 7s and Kenya 15s
  • Kenya Lionesses star Janet Okello claims a double at the 7th edition Magharibi Michezo Awards gala held in Bungoma as she was named the Women Rugby Player of the Year and Athlete of the Year. Menengai Oilers’ centre Austin Shikutwa was named the Men Rugby Player of the Year at the same event.
Patrick Korir
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