By Maik Kwambo

2009 will go down as a memorable Kenyan rugby season. Shujaa, the Kenya Rugby Sevens team made history by reaching the International Rugby Board’s RWC Sevens semi final, resultantly earning automatic qualification to the next event in 2013.Kenya retained the Elgon Cup for a third successive time and Kenya's under 20s staged a great comeback  from 14-32 with less than twenty minutes to stun the USA 33-32. The rest of the news was pretty routine, Collins Injera emerging top try scorer at  the 2008/2009 IRB Sevens World Series, Kenya winning the Safari Sevens..again..

There were plenty of other milestones, highs and lows.We review the fifteens game today.

Bamburi Rugby Super Series

Sponsored by cement giant Lafarge, through their Bamburi brand, the RSS is an event that sees several teams merged together forming franchises that compete for the overall title, the Rugby Super Series title. Initially an all Kenyan affair, the tourney has taken on a different complexion over the past couple of years, spreading its tentacles across the regional borders, first to Tanzania then to Uganda.

This year’s event was a bigger, better event with two Ugandese franchises,Rwenzori and Victoria joining the other five Kenyan franchises Buffaloes,Cheetahs,Lions, Rhinos and Sharks in competing for honors in the five week long event that served as the Kenyan season opener.

Tanzania’s Twigas were slated to take part in the event but their last minute withdrawal paved the way for Kenyan select side Scorpions to take their place. Despite failing to go beyond the preliminaries, the hastily assembled side gave a committed display, giving their opponents a hard time.

Defending champions Lions were widely expected to retain their title, what with a largely unchanged squad that had won them the 2008 title but they conspired to play like kittens, meowing through the tournament as they failed to make the final for the first time since the inaugural tournament in 2003.

If the Lions were meek, other sides were not. Uganda’s Ruwenzori under the tutelage of Ham Onsando acquitted themselves pretty well, marking their RSS debut with a semi final appearance loss to eventual winners Rhinos who ran off 30-13 winners over the Buffaloes in an ill tempered match, more memorable for the crunching tackles and  that five minute brawl that was broadcast live on Supersport…

Here is a review of last year’s final
FIRST HALF

Simon Wariuki scored a drop goal within the opening minutes as Buffaloes led 3-0. The Rhinos patiently inched back into the game, battling the Buffaloes in the forwards in what was an intensely fought first half.

 Tempers frayed on 35 minutes with an almighty brawl breaking out between the two sides, causing a ten minute delay.

On resumption, Buffaloes Martin Opondo was sin binned, reducing the Nakuru based side to 14 men.

Big George Mbaye of the Rhinos scored a try from the resultant penalty. Jude Thumbi missed the conversion as the Rhinos led for the first time, 8-3. Thumbi scored a penalty on 38 minutes while former Lions player John "Meso" Ahenda stole in on the blind side right on half time to give the Rhinos a 13-3 lead going into the half time break.

SECOND HALF

The Buffaloes started this half on a positive note, pressing the Rhinos and were rewarded with a Kelvin Otieno try on 46 minutes. Wariuki's conversion cut the deficit to 13-10. Sensing a Buffaloes backlash, the Rhinos brought on IRB Sevens Circuit top try scorer Collins Injera to add impetus to their attack.

This move eventually paid dividends with the Rhinos scoring a try through Patrick Onyango on 63 minutes. Thumbi was sure with the conversion as the score board read 20-10 to the Rhinos. Wariuki scored a second drop goal on 66 minutes, taking the score to 20-13.

Hungry for the crown, the Rhinos scored two more unconverted tries. Mbaye completing his double on 70 minutes while captain Daniel Kiptoo scored on 75 minutes as they ran out 30-13 winners, adding to previous BRSS titles in 2003 and 2007.

Backrower David Mogere had a stand out performance for the Rhinos.

Pascal Wetukha, the Buffaloes coach, blamed his side's defeat on over confidence, but he was quick to add that the Buffaloes, who are largely comprised of Enterprise Cup champions Nakuru RFC will be a force to reckon with during the regular club season.

Earlier, Uganda's Rwenzori edged out Kenya's Nguvu Sharks 22-19 to claim third place.

IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy

The curtain call for the Bamburi Rugby Super Series would set the stage for the International Rugby Board’s Junior World Rugby Trophy in Nairobi at the end of April.

Kenya, taking part by virtue of being the host nation would represented by Chipu, the national under 20 side.

Mitch Ocholla’s charges would start the tournament with a heart rending 17-22 loss to continental rivals Namibia be

Ken Andola sparks Kenya's revival with this try

IRB Junior World Rugbyy Trophy, Nairobi: Kenya 33 USA 32

fore bouncing back to give what in my opinion was the fifteens match of the year in 2009 at any level in Kenya when they rallied from 14-32 down with twenty minutes of play remaining to stun the fancied United States Junior Eagles 33-32, Collins Omae scoring a memorable hat trick that saw the Chipu stay in contention for a berth in the JWRT final. They would then blank the Cayman Islands 67-0 but their opening loss to Namibia would be their undoing as the US Junior Eagles topped pool A, booking a final berth against the mechanical Romania. Chipu were left fighting for the bronze medal in the playoff against Chile.

 Romania would go on to win the 2009 JWRT with a 25-13 win over the USA.

Review of the JWRT title match

Romania went into the lead through Stefan Patrascu who kicked over a penalty on 7 minutes. Tai Enosa levelled for the Junior Eagles with a drop goal on 15 minutes.

Robert Johnson kicked a massive penalty from inside the USA half to enable the Junior Eagles take the lead on 22 minutes but Patrascu soon brought the Romanians back in the game with his second penalty.The scores were 6-6 in this tense half.

Enosa scored a try minutes to half time and Johnson converted as the USA led 13-6 going into the half time interval.

The second half was an evenly contested affair, both sides prodding each other and it was evident from the way both sides played

Adrian Apostol scored a try on 44 minutes that was converted by Patrascu. At 13-13, the game was finely poised for an exciting finish. Both sides defended resolutely but Romania got the better of the USA just as the game seemed to be headed for sudden death. Marian Pirvu scored a try on 72 minutes before Patrascu killed off the Junior Eagles on 77 minutes after scoring and converting his try. Final score Romania 25 USA

Action from the JWRT final

Romania v USA: JWRT Final

13.

The win earned the victors a ticket to the IRB World under 20 championships.

 

Review of the JWRT third place playoff match
Hosts Kenya were unlucky in their loss to  Chile, going down 17-19 after trailing 3-14 at the half time break.They finished fourth behind Chile.

Felipe Beltran put Chile ahead on 14 minutes when he touched down .Nicolas Hereros' conversion put Chile 7-0 up on 15 minutes. Francisco Fernandez added a second try try that was successfully converted by Hereros. 14-0 to Chile on 27 minutes as they dominated Chipu in the forwards.

Chipu began to claw their way back into the match and Felix Ayange, who has famous relatives in Humphrey Kayange and Collins Injera reduced the deficit to 14-3 when he put away a penalty on 34 minutes after a Chile infringement.

Second half action saw a rejuvenated Chipu take the game to Chile. Ayange was put through after the Kenyan backs played the ball in hand and Joseph Abala scored under the posts on 47 minutes courtesy of a flamboyant overhead pass from Ayange. Kenny Andola converted as the score board read 14-10 in Chile's favour.

Realising that the game was within reach, Chipu came hard at Chile, who had to cope with unrelenting pressure from the home boys. They however made Kenya pay for poor finishing when Mauricio Rey scored a try on 63 minutes. Hereros missed the conversion as the scores read 19-10 to the South Americans.

Kenya responded in their characteristic athletic style and Graham Dinda's 72nd minute try that was converted by Andola set the stage for a frenetic finish. Chile held out to win 19-17 and claim the bronze medal.

Namibia claimed fifth place with a 48-43 win over Papua New Guinea while South Korea crushed the Cayman Islands 62-12 to  finish seventh.

The Kenyan domestic season

Impala Floodlits

Kenya Cup

Enterprise Cup

Supremacy Cup

Saturday 23rd May 2009: Impala reclaim the Floodies after five years

Impala RFC claimed their first Floodlit title since 2004 with a comprehensive 31-14 win over Kenya Commercial Bank RFC. The Gazelles signaled their intent right from kick off, taking the game to KCB who ably dealt with the challenge thrown their way.

The Lions from KCB soon took control of the game, dominating in the forwards and were rewarded on nine minutes when their mercurial scrum half Peter Mutai scored the game’s opening try. His brother Edwin Kiprono was sure with the conversion to take the scores to 7-0 for KCB.

Impala were stung by this and gave their response to the Lions but they had to contend with their solid defense. KCB continued to dominate in the forwards but were unable to turn their dominance into points, something that they would rue later on in the match. Innocent Simiyu was a constant threat to KCB and indeed his forty yard sprint led to an infringement from KCB. Nato Simiyu scored the resultant penalty kick to reduce the deficit to 7-3.

KCB’s response was swift, their attack led to an Impala infringement. Kiprono’s penalty bounced off the upright as the scores stayed at 7-3.Impala continued to cause KCB problems and they missed an opportunity to go ahead when their backs conspired to knock the ball with the try line in sight. They however kept up the pressure and were awarded a penalty after another KCB infringement. Felix Makori scored to reduce the deficit to 7-6. 

Kiprono missed another penalty for KCB as they went into the break leading 7-6

Impala’s Bill Githinji gave his team a pep talk at half time that spurred them into second half resurgence. Makori scored immediately after the restart to signal an Impala comeback. They led for the good, 11-7.

Buoyed by this try, the Gazelles camped in the Lions half, their early pressure paying dividends when they forced KCB into another error. Makori was sure with his penalty to give Impala a 14-7 lead. Makori touched down again on forty seven minutes but missed his conversion. Impala 19-7.

Vincent Mose, playing for Impala, soon broke through the KCB defense but was thwarted by Benjamin Otieno’s crunching tackle. Bryan Omondi of KCB was sin binned on fifty five minutes and his team mate Anthony Ochino soon followed him to the cooler. Impala took advantage of their numerical superiority to score another try through Vincent Mose on sixty minutes. Moses Kola’s conversion bounced off the posts as the red shirts led 24-7.

Simiyu crowned his evening with a try on sixty five minutes. Kola converted to extend Impala’s lead to 31-7. Kenya Under 20 international and tournament top try scorer Ken Isindu scored a try for KCB late in the game.Kiprono converted, bringing the scores to 31-14.

It was double joy for Impala whose under 20 side became the inaugural winners of the Floodlit under 20 tournament with a 29-14 win over H2O Mwamba.

Wednesday 3rd June 2009: The 2009 Kenya Cup Preview

KCB v Nakuru: Action from the 2009 Kenya Cup

The Kenya Cup is around the corner. It promises to be an enthralling season in 2009.

With the kick off whistle yet to be sounded, there should be an almighty battle for the Kenya Cup in 2009.

The top contenders

While every team views itself a likely candidate for the title, my predictions are that these three teams: Kenya Harlequin FC, Impala RFC and Kenya Commercial Bank RFC will battle it out this season for Kenya Cup honors.

These three teams have collectively dominated the Kenya Cup, sharing the title amongst themselves since 1998.

As defending champions. Kenya Harlequin know the tasks that lie ahead of them; mounting a title defense and re-establishing themselves at the summit of Kenyan club rugby for a good number of years. They have the personnel to do so.

Led by swashbuckling Kenya prop Daniel Kiptoo, the combative David Mogere and Allan Onyango as well as the turbo charged legs of Sidney Ashioya, the Ngong' Road side will be out for a second successive title.

It’s been five years since their last Kenya Cup triumph in 2004 but Impala RFC cannot be knocked out of the equation. With the returning Bill Githinji back at the helm as head coach, the "Gazelles" could push Quins all the way for the title if they consistently turn in winning results.

The experience and leadership of Kenya centre Innocent Simiyu is key for this side as demonstrated at the recently concluded Impala Floodits where he led Impala to victory with his man of the match performance over KCB.

Vincent Mose, their new signing at fullback from Nakuru RFC is in my opinion the X-factor in Impala's Kenya Cup bid. 

Kenya Commercial Bank RFC were two time Kenya Cup runners up in 2002 and 2004 before winning their maiden title in 2005 and hogging it for two successive years in 2006 and 2007 before finishing third in 2008. They are in my opinion the weakest of the big three. The core squad that served them between 2002 and 2007 has gradually disintegrated due to retirements and other factors. They have also had four coaches in three years, Michael "Tank" Otieno, Bill Githinji, Simon Jawichre and "Tank" again.

Despite this, the presence of Peter Mutai, Andrew Amonde and Anthony Ogot should serve to spur the "Lions" to towards Kenya Cup success.

Hopefully, Michael "Tank" Otieno who oversaw that success filled era between 2002 and 2007 could wave his magic wand again and coach KCB to victory in a year when the Thika Road club celebrates its 20th anniversary.

The dark horses

The dark horses are Mwamba and Nakuru BUT I do not think that any of them have made a big enough improvement to catch  the big three, but I think the gap between this group and the big three will probably be closer than ever before.

Action from the 2009 Kenya Cup

Impala V KCB: Photo Courtesy of Peter Nduati

The Jotham Owili revolution is certainly underway at Nakuru as he has had the luxury of maintaining his core side for close to three years and rewarded the "Wanyore" with a fourth place finish in the 2008 Kenya Cup and their first major fifteens silverware in 45 years courtesy of that memorable 34-24 win over Mwamba RFC on 27th September 2009. Nakuru may still be a work in progress but I like what Owili has done so far.However, I still fear that the loss of Vincent Mose to Impala may slow down the Nakuru charge.

John Onyango, the Mwamba RFC coach is happy to play the Kenya Cup with a full complement of players. "Kulabu" have suffered whenever Humphrey Kayange, Collins Injera, Lavin Asego and Horace Otieno are away on duty for Shujaa, the Kenya Sevens Team. Their 0-33 loss to Impala during the Floodlit semis best illustrates this point. With adequate depth, Mwamba could challenge for league honors but it will honestly be difficult for them to sustain a push for the title.

Strathmore overcame an earth shattering 7-67 loss to KCB on their Kenya Cup debut in 2008 by ably competing and managing to finish in sixth position. Mitch Ocholla's young side could only get better if kept together. Realistically speaking, they are NOT going to win the Kenya Cup but will give rugby fans some good games. The "Leos" provided twelve players and the coach to Chipu, the Kenyan under 20 side that finished fourth at the recently concluded IRB Junior Rugby World Trophy in Nairobi and it would be interesting to see how this group of players acquit themselves as the Kenya Cup progresses. 

Mean Machine RFC once ruled Kenyan rugby when the likes of Edward Rombo, Eric Kibe and George Adul turned out for the University of Nairobi side. Their battles for supremacy with the grand old club of Kenyan rugby, Nondescripts RUFC were legendary.

Sadly, these two sides have over the past decade gradually sunk to mid table oblivion. Machine have Shujaa coach Benjamin Ayimba and it would be interesting to see what the former Kenya Cup winning Impala RFC skipper can do for the side.

Nondies, coached by Paul Odera have just returned from a pre-season tour of Uganda and it would be interesting to see how the former multiple champions  who last won the Kenya Cup in 1997 cope in this year's league. They gave a good account of themselves in their quarter final loss to Quins at the 2009 Impala Floodlits and will be looking to do better than their second from bottom placing in 2008. Can this crop of players relive the glory days of Paul Keir, Pip Omamo, David and Peter Francombe? Let us wait and see. 
As the 2009 Kenya Cup gets underway, let’s fill the stands as we support our clubs and Kenyan rugby in general.

Wednesday 22nd July 2009: Kenya Cup Match Day Seven Preview

Nobody can dispute the fact that the 2009 Kenya Cup has provided many a fan with thrilling rugby action, from floodlit matches to unbeaten runs and jinxes being broken.

The next installment to this drama is match day seven on Saturday 25th July, which also marks the league's halfway point.KCB, buoyed by their 27-18 home win over Kenya Harlequin have the chance to set the record straight when they host Nakuru RFC at The Lions' Den in Ruaraka.

Nakuru inflicted a rare home defeat to the bankers in last year's Kenya Cup before knocking them out of the Enterprise Cup. Fresh from beating Impala on match day six, the "Wanyore" will be out to build on this with a win against a resurgent KCB who lead the league going into this fixture.

Kenya Harlequin and Impala were on the losing end of their match day six fixtures. There can only be one winner when the two sides face off this weekend in what promises to be a cracker of a tie.

John Onyango's Mwamba play host to the University of Nairobi's Mean Machine. Mwamba are steadily rising up the league table courtesy of some competent displays over the past few weeks. Mean Machine claimed their first win of the season when they beat Strathmore 30-28 on match day six and will definitely take the game to "Kulabu" as they seek to jot down win number two at the Railway Club.

Unlucky Strathmore play the ever improving Nondescripts. Strath were unlucky 28-30 losers to Mean Machine on match day six. This has been the story of Strath's 2009 Kenya Cup season. Will lady luck smile their way when they play a Nondies side that is seemingly getting its act together.

Kenya Cup Match Day Seven awaits, turn up at the rugby ground and support your favorite club side. 
 

Wednesday 29th July 2009: Kenya Cup Match Day Eight Preview

The verdict on the opening half of the 2009 Kenya Cup, exciting and competitive. Pre season predictions have been somewhat rubbished, at least for now…

Nakuru RFC lead a pack of five teams all in contention for the league title at this point in time. Their 30-13 away win over KCB saw them ascend to the top of the Kenya Cup hierarchy heading into match day eight, which incidentally kicks off the league's final leg. Nakuru will be away to a Mwamba side that is out to avenge their first leg loss to the 'Wanyore'.

KCB, who lost their second home match on match day seven, will be out to bounce back and claim the double at the University of Nairobi when they play hosts Mean Machine whom they beat on match day one. The varsity side asked many questions of Mwamba in their 24-42 loss on match day seven and will be out for a win against the bankers.

Kenya Harlequin FC were run close by Nondescripts RUFC on match day one. Coming off back to back defeats at the hands of KCB and Impala, the reigning league champions will be out to secure maximum points against a well drilled Nondies side.

Impala RFC play Strathmore. The first leg ended in an Impala victory. Could Strathmore, coached by former Impala star Mitch Ocholla pull off that upset victory on match day eight? Let’s wait and see.

Enjoy the matches while filling up the stands to support your favorite teams

Tuesday 22nd September 2009: Judgment Day: All to play for on Kenya Cup Match Day 14

The script is almost complete; all it needs is a champion to crown on match day 14, the final day of the 2009 Kenya Cup. One of three teams can still be crowned Kenya Cup winners on match day 14. The three teams still in contention are league leaders Impala RFC on 46 points, Kenya Commercial Bank RFC on 45 points and reigning champions Kenya Harlequin FC on 41 points.

Bill Githinji's Impala RFC, dominant in the formative years of this decade when they won four titles in five seasons, between 2000-2002 and again in 2004, will want to make it five titles. They play their next door neighbours and league champions Kenya Harlequin FC in a Ngong' Road derby that takes on added importance as it plays a role in determining the final destination of the league title. Impala have stayed in the leading pack all season and the big question at this point is whether they will fall at the final hurdle or will they be able to turn on the style when it matters most?

They lost 8-17 to Kenya Commercial Bank RFC on match day 12, a result that literally threw the league race wide open. Their next fixture was a hard fought 14-13 win over visiting Nakuru RFC saw them stay top heading into judgment day.

Edward Kinyany's Quins have also stayed in the leading pack, without ever leading the league. On 41 points, they still have a chance of retaining the title they won in 2008.

To lay their hands on the title that they had previously won in 2003, they would require a bonus point victory over Impala while hoping that Impala do not register any point. They would also have to count on home side Nakuru RFC denying KCB a win and a bonus point. That is how tight the race for the league title is.

KCB, Kenya Cup champions between 2005 and 2007 travel to the intimidating atmosphere of the Nakuru Athletic Club where they face home side Nakuru RFC. KCB are on 45 points, trailing Impala by just the one point. They must beat the hosts and count on Quins, the team they vanquished on match day 13, to defeat Impala. This scenario will hand Michael "Tank" Otieno a fourth Kenya Cup title as KCB head honcho. KCB lost 5-13 at home to Nondescripts RUFC on match day 11 before registering 17-8 and 18-12 away wins over Impala and Quins in their subsequent fixtures.

2008 Enterprise Cup champions Nakuru RFC have been worthy competitors, sticking to the top four, even leading the league at one point. With 39 points, they are out of contention and will certainly be playing for pride but do not put it past the Wanyore to go for the win. They beat KCB 30-13 in Ruaraka on match day 7 and Jotham Owili’s side will be out to complete the league double over the Lions.

Seventh placed Mean Machine RFC host fifth placed Mwamba RFC. Benjamin Ayimba’s Machine side will be gunning for a win that would consolidate Eschuma Absolute’s league position while John Onyango, seemingly content with Kulabu’s league standing, may again be tempted to give his fringe players more playing time ahead of the Enterprise Cup in October. 

Sixth placed Nondescripts RUFC who have had a great run in the second leg of the season wind up their league campaign against Mitch Ocholla’s Strathmore Leos. One interesting observation ahead of this match is that Nondies coach Paul Odera was Ocholla’s predecessor as Kenya under 20 coach. Both sides probably approach this match as an Enterprise Cup build up.

Friday 25th September 2009: Kenya Cup Match Day 14: The Grand Finale

After the Impala Floodlits, the Bamburi Super Series and a dramatic league campaign, the battle for the Kenyan championship comes down to 80 minutes at two venues on Kenya Cup Match Day 14.

KCB Lions travel to the Rift Valley to square it out with hosts Nakuru RFC on Saturday afternoon at the at the Nakuru Athletic Club while defending champions Kenya Harlequin host Impala RFC at the RFUEA. These two matches will determine the 2009 Kenya Cup winners.

After thirteen grueling rounds, nothing else but what happens on Saturday afternoon matters. Not the star players, not the coaches, not the best tries, tackles dummies and drop goals of the season, nor the best fans. Nothing but the final result. And ultimately, this is why we are rugby fans.

Enjoy the rugby weekend. 
 

Saturday 26th September 2009: Impala reclaim the Kenya Cup after five year wait:

Cool Kola kicks Impala to Kenya Cup win.

Ten points from Moses Kola saw Impala RFC reclaim the Kenya Cup title after a five year wait courtesy of a 13-5 win over outgoing champions Kenya Harlequin FC at the RFUEA on Saturday afternoon. They won the title having accumulated 50 points from 14 outings, one ahead of Kenya Commercial Bank RFC and nine ahead of third placed Quins.

The experienced scrum half put the Gazelles ahead on nine minutes when he kicked over a penalty after a Quins infringement. The cool Kola would then score and convert a try on the stroke of half time as Impala took a

10-0 lead going into the interval. Victor "Opong'" Oduor scored an unconverted try for Quins to narrow the scores to 10-5 but Peter Ocholla struck with a drop goal late in the second half to stretch Impala's lead to 13-5. This was Impala's first title since 2004 and coach Bill Githinji's fifth league title.

Nakuru RFC limited second placed Kenya Commercial Bank RFC to a 14-7 win, a result that put paid

to the bankers title ambitions. The first half saw plenty of action with Nakuru's Martin Opondo and KCB's Anthony Ogot paying courtesy calls to the sin bin at various stages of this half that ended 0-0.

The second half saw the Lions touch down twice in twelve minute through Ronnie Mwenesi and Andrew Amonde. Peter Mutai successfully converted both tries. Sensing time was not on their side; KCB continued attacking but could not translate possession into points, eventually missing out on the much sought bonus point that would have gifted them the title. Nakuru clawed their way back into the match and were rewarded with a try late in the game. Simon Wariuki converted for

a 14-7 score line. KCB finished the season unbeaten away from home but this statistic eventually played second fiddle to the fact that the league title would not be returning to the Lion’s Den. In other matches on the league's closing day Mean Machine beat Mwamba RFC 38-30 while Nondescripts RUFC edged out Strathmore Leos 33-32. With the curtain having fallen on the Kenya Cup, focus now shifts to what is arguably Kenya's oldest sporting event, the Enterprise Cup.

Tuesday 20th October 2009: "The great deciders" Impala RFC and Kenya Harlequin FC contest for 2009 Enterprise Cup honors

Ngong' Road neighbors Impala RFC and Kenya Harlequin FC have unwittingly ended up being the "great deciders" of the two major rugby titles in Kenyan rugby during the 2009 season, namely the Kenya Cup and the Enterprise Cup.

It will be remembered that Impala beat Quins 13-5 on Saturday 26th September 2009 at the RFUEA to claim their first Kenya Cup title since 2004 and the two sides, who incidentally share a fence, meet up on Saturday 24th October at the same venue to contest for the 2009 Enterprise Cup title.

Their paths to the final have been contrasting.

Impala RFC literally ghosted past their quarter final opponents Mean Machine, winning 19-12 at the University of Nairobi on Saturday 3rd

October before coming from behind to edge 2008 winners Nakuru RFC 13-12 in a tightly contested semi final clash at the Nakuru Athletic Club on Saturday 10th October.

Kenya Harlequin FC began with a comprehensive 33-13 quarter final win over Mwamba RFC, beaten finalists in 2008. They would then endure two weekends of semi final action. The first match saw them drawing 8-8 with Kenya Commercial Bank at the RFUEA, a match that went into sudden death extra time before being called off due to fading light. The replay at KCB's Lion’s Den saw Quins eventually book their final berth with a 16-9 win.

Admittedly, both sides have been tentative in their previous fixtures but with this being a cup final, and all to play for on Saturday, it would be in their best interests if they took the game by the scruff of its neck right from kickoff and decided the tie within regulation time.

Finally, let’s hope that this game can live up to all of its hype, and that both teams play their best level of rugby, as this makes the game more entertaining to the fans and the players. 

Saturday 24th October 2009: Kenya Harlequin beat Impala to win Enterprise Cup

action from 2009

Impala v Quins: Photo courtesy of Peter Nduati

Kenya Harlequin FC are the 2009 Enterprise Cup winners courtesy of a 19-6 win over Kenya Cup champions Impala RFC at the RFUEA.

FIRST HALF

The match started on a tentative note, both sides cautious in their initial approaches and it was Quins who made the first forays into the Impala half, winning a penalty early on but scrum half Jude Thumbi was unsuccessful with his goal attempt.

The match continued to unfold slowly, Impala RFC uncharacteristically making several errors and would lose influential fly half Peter Ocholla on fourteen minutes through injury.

Thumbi would put Quins ahead a minute later when he slotted home a penalty after another Impala infringement.

Quins 3 Impala 0 on fifteen minutes.

Quins would then assert themselves for a good period though Impala fended off their attacks.

The Gazelles began to get back into the game though Quins rode the pressure. Dennis Muhanji would breach the Impala defense, earning his side a penalty that they failed to translate into points. Impala captain Innocent Simiyu would be stopped short of the try line as the Gazelles looked to put their first points on the board.

As the game rode on, Quins back row man Victor Oduor would be sent to the sin bin on thirty two minutes. Impala would win a scrum down, and then a penalty as they piled pressure on Quins. Moses Kola slotted home the goal attempt to level the scores.

Quins 3 Impala 3 on thirty four minutes.

Fourteen man Quins responded right from kick off, Allan Onyango grounding the ball on thirty six minutes. Thumbi missed the conversion.

Quins 8 Impala 3 on thirty seven minutes.

Quins would then win a penalty right at the half time buzzer. Thumbi slotted home this goal attempt.

Quins 11 Impala 3 at half time.

SECOND HALF

Sniffing victory, Quins were quickest out of the box come the second half, camping in the league champion's half. Their pressure paid off when Dennis Muhanji touched down from a Daniel Kiptoo pass. Thumbi missed the conversion.

Quins 16 Impala 3 on forty four minutes.

Quins continued to dominate, subduing the Gazelles. Impala briefly sprung into life, attacking and winning a penalty that Kola narrowly missed.

Simiyu, Impala’s most outstanding player on the day, continued to fight for the Enterprise Cup, skipping past two defenders before being mowed down, winning a penalty.

This period of the match was characterized by casual play from Impala despite having plenty of possession. Kola would miss another penalty kick and Paul Oimbo contrived to spill the ball from the resultant touch kick from the Quins backs. Impala would earn another penalty that Kola would finally put over.

Quins 16 Impala 6 on sixty one minutes.

Fewer minutes left on the clock and the game was now a midfield affair, plenty of tackles, rucks and mauls the dominant feature. Thumbi would drill home another penalty to stretch Quins lead.

Quins 19 Impala 6 on sixty seven minutes.

Impala finally sprung into life at the business end of this half, camping in the Quins half but the Quins did just enough to weather the Impala backlash and claim the 2009 Enterprise Cup title.

Final Score Kenya Harlequin FC 19 Impala RFC 6 

Speaking after the game, Quins head coach Edward Kinyany' said, "We are glad to be back to winning ways. We took the game from the start, hence the 11-3 lead at half time. We played to our strengths."

Impala RFC assistant coach Charles Ngovi said, "We made too many mistakes. We failed to settle and Quins rattled us. Losing "Och" (Peter Ocholla) after fifteen minutes also disrupted our game plan."

Wednesday 28th October 2009: Battle for Supremacy as curtain falls on fifteens season

The curtain falls on the fifteens season when Kenya Cup champions Impala RFC face off with Enterprise Cup champions Kenya Harlequin FC in the season ending Supremacy Cup at the RFUEA on Saturday 31 October 2009. Quins are the current Supremacy Cup holders after beating Nakuru RFC in last year's fixture.

This will be the third time that the Ngong' Road neighbours are meeting in a title match, having been the main actors in determining the destiny of the Kenya Cup, a match that Impala won 13-5 to claim their first title since 2004 before renewing their rivalries in the Enterprise Cup final that Quins won 19-6 to claim a first Enterprise Cup title since that power sharing arrangement with Impala RFC in 2003.

Saturday's clash could go either way. Impala will be keen to bounce back from their somewhat pedestrian display in the Enterprise Cup final on Saturday 24th October while Quins will want to build on the momentum gained during their all conquering Enterprise Cup campaign. It makes for an interesting clash.

It has been an enthralling fifteens season, what with the drama witnessed during the Kenya Cup and Enterprise Cup. Let us say goodbye in style.

Saturday 31st October 2009: Impala win Supremacy clash 
 
Kenya Cup champions Impala RFC bounced back from last weekend's 6-19 Enterprise Cup final loss to dominate their conquerors Kenya Harlequin FC, running off 33-24 winners, a result that saw them take home the 2009 Supremacy Cup title.

 
Quins were quick off the blocks, Dennis Muhanji breaching the Impala defense early on, but there was nobody running off him to claim his delivery that went begging. 
 
They would continue to apply pressure, winning a penalty on four minutes that Jude Thumbi put over for a 3-0 Quins lead, their only lead of the game.  
 
Kevin Gisore, the bustling Impala center, deputizing for the suspended Innocent Simiyu would soon score the game's opening try, touching down on ten minutes. Mike Mugo missed the conversion as Impala led 5-3. 
 
This stung Quins into an attack that was soon snuffed out when Impala blindside flanker Brian Nyikuli picked a loose ball, setting up an Impala attack that saw them enter Quins territory. From this, Vincent Mose received and raised the ball and when Quins winger Peter Abuoga failed to decisively deal with this punt, Mose was only too willing to oblige, gathering the lu
cky bounce to score Impala's second try on fifteen minutes. Mugo was sure with this conversion as Impala led 12-3. 
 
The emerging period saw Quins press Impala for a good spell. Leslie Libasia scored Quins first try of the match from a lineout maul drive, grounding the ball on twenty minutes. Thumbi successfully slotted home this conversion as the scoreboard read 12-10 in Impala's favor. 
 
If the opening half produced twenty two points between the two sides, the opening quarter of 2nd half was a closely contested affair, both side prodding each other but no more points registered.  
 

It remained 12-10 in Impala's favor heading into the interval. 
 
The second half saw Impala pin Quins in their own half and were rewarded with a try from former Nakuru back row man Law Buy chi who was one of three former Nakuru players making their Impala debut. Mugo missed this conversion as Impala led 17-10 on forty four minutes. 
 
It was all Impala from here, Quins simply unable to deal with an Impala side that was anything but pedestrian at this point of the game. A Quins infringement saw match referee Bosco Muamba award the red shirts a penalty on forty seven minutes. Mugo's successful attempt stretched Impala's lead to 20-10. 
 
Former Kenya prop Nzioka Muema did well to gather a tricky ball, winning Impala another penalty on fifty minutes. Substitute Moses Kola put it over for a 23-10 Impala lead. 
 
This try woke Quins from their second half slumber, crossing the Impala twenty five for the first time in this half but they were unable to translate their pres
sure into points. 
 
Impala's Gisore would crown his afternoon with a second try, intercepting a loose ball with Quins on the attack. Kola converted for a 30-10 lead with sixty minutes played. 
 
The coasting Impala would lose Steve Oyaya who was yellow carded on sixty three minutes. Quins prop Joel Ng'ang'a sliced through the Impala defense, conspiring with himself to drop the ball agonizingly short of the try line on sixty six minutes. 
 
The huge lead apparently made Impala complacent with Kevin Umbuge standing out for hogging the ball when it would have been much easier to spread the ball wide. Kola would soon stretch their lead with a penalty on seventy minutes, extending their lead to 33-10.

 
Tony Mutai scored a late try for Quins, sparking a frenzied fight back from the Enterprise Cup champions who were now taking advantage of the Gazelle's complacency. Chris Oduor converted to narrow the scores to 33-17.  
 
The explosive Sidney Ashioya, largely quiet in this match scored a brilliant individual try for Quins right at the dearth. Ashioya picked up a high ball in his twenty two before running the entire length of the field, skipping past four weak tackle attempts on the way. Arguably try of the season if you asked me. Abuoga converted at the final whistle.

Impala 33 Quins 24. Final Score

Kenya Harlequin FC's seconds would claim the 2009 Second Division Eric Shirley Shield title with a 27-3 win over Impala Boks. They also won the season ending second division Supremacy Cup with a 25-10 win over KCB Cubs.They would however be denied the second division's version of the league and cup double when KCB Cubs beat them 23-15 to claim the Mwamba Cup.

International assignments
Internationally, Kenya's fifteens side won the Elgon Cup for a third successive time. They lost 13-18 to Uganda's Rugby Cranes in the return match at Kyadondo in Kampala on Saturday 29 August 2009, having done enough in Nairobi when they won 30-22. The Kenya fifteens won the tie 43-41 on aggregate.

They had earlier lost 11-29 to Morocco in the final of the CAR (Confederation of African Rugby) Northern Trophy in Safi, Morocco on Saturday 11 July 2009.

The CAR Under 19 trophy was also held in Nairobi in August with the Kenyan under 19 side bowing out at the semi final stage when they lost to Namibia. Zimbabwe avenged their 13-16 loss to the Namibians during the 2008 final, running out convincing 39-7 winners.

The Kenyan juniors would finish fourth overall when they lost their playoff match against Tunisia, going down 11-28.

The fifth place play-off was abandoned with 17 minutes remaining and Uganda leading Morocco 22-0, while Zambia finished on a winning note with a 15-5 defeat of a Kenya Select side who had stepped in following Ivory Coast’s withdrawal.

That was the Kenyan fifteens season in 2009.

 

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