Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
38-30 win over Uhuru Highway neighbours Mwamba 'kulabu'.
The comrades under Coach Ayimba showed fine form as they tore through
the Black Shirts at will. No matter what excuses Mwamba will raise
they were a pale shadow of their overestimated and overrated
The win and game served as good preparations for this weeks Enterprise
Cup quarter final clash againest newly crowned Kenya Cup winners
Impala RFC. The Machine will be ready for the Reds.
My mama and I are eager to see a Machine victory as a cup needs to
land before the Sevens starts. Go Machine go. Go Kopo go.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Yesterday a distant cousin of hers graduated so I accompanied her to
the late lunch at Meridian which was quite a show with relatives from
everywhere. The graduate now has a lot on her shoulders.
Today we start with the All Blacks as they play Australia in the last
3 Nations game. Haka them kabisa.
The inter-university derby game between Mean Machine and Strathmore
Leos is a must watch game as the last place battle is on. With Coach
Ayimba knowing more about one of his former teams Machine should have
the edge and win comfortably. Kopondo leads from the front as usual.
Good luck comrades in the Kenya rugby Kenya Cup.
Tomorrow we shall be recovering from tonights party time and Monday we
are at my Mama's friend Zainab celebrating Idd. Enjoy your weekend and
Go Machine go.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
International Rugby Sevens series champions South Africa and Kenya are likely to be part of the Digicel Suva Rugby Festival in January 2010.
Chairman Vilikesa Rauca said they are now looking at the cost in bringing in the two teams, who are expected to be the draw cards of the tournament.
Rauca also confirmed that they have secured teams like Samoa, Tonga and Manawatu from New Zealand which will have the services of Lote Raikabula and Tomasi Cama.
This morning Papua New Guinea also confirmed they will be coming over with Coach Waisale Serevi.
He added that they will now have to look at other teams like Scotland, Hong Kong, France and Western Force, who have shown interest to play in Fiji next year.
The Fiji sevens team to the Wellington and San Diego sevens will also take part in this tournament.
The Digicel Suva Rugby Festival will be held from the 15th to the 23rd of January.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Instead it is the neighbours Uganda who will be carring the East African flag obviously as their stronger links with South Africa over the years seem to be paying off not withstanding the fact that they are the reigning 'African Champions'. This must be a big slap in KRFU's face especially to the chairman Richard Omwela who has been carrying himself around of late like some little Zuma.
That Kenya are missing out on the event in Namibia could be testimony to our foreign rugby relations policy that puts us out as arrogant at administrative level but pleasant on the field.
This obviously lowers that stature that the KRFU/Safari Sevens Ltd and associates have worked so hard to build the Safari Sevens over the years. That the South Africa 7's team will attend and are yet to land in Kenya is quite telling. Prize money?
Others in Windhoek are Samoa, Fiji, Argentina, Portugal, Tunisia, Namibia (hosts), Uganda, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Spain to mention a few.
Kenya will bounce back when they start the 2009/10 IRB series but will the Safari Sevens be able to absorb this big slap?
It is impossible to emerge gracefully from a deep, muddy hole, particularly when dragged out by chortling bystanders. Nor can the task be accomplished cleanly. The blazer and flannels were liberally smeared with red laterite clay and the left trouser leg was neatly torn in several places, a miracle of modern design.
It was in this state that the RFUEA Secretary (for it was he) staggered back into the Residence to bid farewell to the British High Commissioner and, on behalf of the RFUEA, to thank him for his splendid hospitality. He did so in a half-crouch, desperately seeking to hide his tattered trousers and well-camouflaged jacket. The bemused Diplomat assumed that the embarrassed object in front of him was a survivor from the afternoon's match and, for the first time in his career, he realised just how seriously the young men of East Africa took the Enterprise Cup.
Impala beat Nondescripts again in 1973 and Kenya Harlequins in 1974. One newspaper touted Harlequins as potential victors and castigated the Impala side for their 'self-esteem and arrogance, a nonchalance and laziness in midfield, a suspect defence and their notoriously slow start.' High praise indeed, and surely designed to prod the sleeping giant. Harlequins managed to hold their opponents for twenty minutes and they even took the lead with a dropped goal, but once Impala had emerged from 'their traditional air of sloth and lethargy', they were able to score almost at will and won at a canter by 50 points to 15, the highest score in the history of the Enterprise Cup. The 'traditional air of sloth and lethargy' seems to have remained with them for somewhat longer during the final of 1975 when they were defeated by Nondescripts in a tight match, decided in the last minute by the touch-line conversion of disputed try.
Nondescripts maintained their hold on the Enterprise Cup for the next nine years until 1985. In that year, the new clubs established by the University of Nairobi and other institutions finally demonstrated that they had gained sufficient experience and maturity to compete on level terms. The first of the new clubs to succeed in the cauldron that is Enterprise Cup rugby was Mwamba RFC, playing at the Railway Club and winning the competition in 1985 and 1986. Kenya Harlequins returned to former glories by taking the Cup in 1988 but then followed a further decade of Nondescript dominance. Not until 1999 were Kenya Harlequins again to knock the Nondescripts off their perch, and they in turn fell victim to Impala who won the trophy in each to the three years to 2003.
If HMS Enterprise fired the first salvo in the history of rugby tourism in East Africa, others were not slow to follow. A party representing the Combined South African Universities toured Kenya in December 1929 but not until 1935 did an external touring party follow the Enterprise XV to Kampala when Stellenbosch University included in their itinerary a match against Uganda. Fifteen years later, in 1949, the University of Cape Town included matches against both Uganda and Tanganyika in their 15-match itinerary and Rhodes University went even further in 1955, augmenting their Kenyan fixtures with matches in Dar es Salaam, Tanaga, Moshi, Kampala and Jinja. The Combined Oxford and Cambridge Universities tour of 1957 and the University of Cape Town Invitation XV of 1958 also played matches in all three countries affiliated to the RFUEA. The floodgates were now well and truly opened and the number and frequency of tours increased. Many well known club sides from United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, France and Belgium have staggered through Nairobi Airport, not to mention national sides from Malawi, Zambia, Seychelles, South Africa and Wales.
None of these tourists were ever asked to undertake a schedule as punishing as that pursued by the gallant sailors of HMS Enterprise. In December 1928, a gentleman known only by the initials H.E.S – who by deduction can only have been Harold E. Stevens, the Chaplain of HMS Enterprise, assembles and edited the history of her first two-year Commission on the East Indies station. In his summary of Commission highlights he made the following prophetic statement: -
'In East Africa we mad rugger history by our up-country tour, being the first Naval team to venture so far into the heart of Darkest Africa. The rugger at times suffered from the effects of travelling and hospitality, but if our visit is not memorable for number of our wins, we hope it will be remembered when the various districts come to play for the cup which we presented.'
East Africa has surely lived up to his expectation, given the gallons of blood, sweat and beers that have flowed in pursuit of their highly regarded trophy, the Enterprise Cup.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Nakuru were not to be denied and regained the Trophy in 1960, 1962 and 1963. Another new name appeared on the Enterprise Cup in 1961, Impala’s first victory. Impala RFC came into being when in 1956 Old Cambrians, a club formed in 1930 by old boys of the Prince of Wales School, changed their name and increased the catchment of players from which they could draw.
The Enterprise Cup competition of 1961 was made particularly memorable by the Semi-final match between Nakuru and Nile RFC from Uganda. Nile RFC was a club based in Jinja, formed when the rugby playing population of that town swelled during construction of the Own Falls Dam. The Nile XV of 1961 included one of the first African players to participate in Enterprise Cup competition. As the Nakuru match programme noted, he was normally a winger, though against Nakuru he was to play in the second row. The programme welcomed him to Nakuru Club and hoped he would have a really good game and enjoy his visit. One wonders whether this junior officer in the Kings African Rifles was able to learn anything from his Nakuru experience that he could apply in later life? His name, of course, was Effendi Idi Amin Dadaa, later to gain notoriety as the man who played for Uganda Kobs on the opposite wing to Ray Woolley.
Competition was fierce and during the period 1963 – 1968 a different club won the Enterprise Cup each year – Nakuru, Kenya Harlequins, Impala, Nondescripts, Kitale and Kampala. All of these finals were tightly contested and Nakuru, for example, overturned a 3 – 9 score-line with 14 unanswered points in the last ten minutes of the 1963 final. In 1965 there occurred what is said to have been the greatest Final ever when Impala beat Kampala by 16 points to 14 after a scintillating exhibition of open rugby on both sides.
Although the standard of rugby in East Africa was improving rapidly, the psychological warfare that is also known as ‘hospitality’ continued to throw up interesting ways to undermine the opponent. The Nairobi Swell who travelled to Nakuru for an Enterprise Cup tie was intrigued to be billeted with a gentleman farmer from Rongai who had developed a close personal interest in railway trains following an unfortunate incident on the overnight express to Mombasa. The pair cemented their acquaintance by exchanging gifts at the club – bar several Tuskers in one direction, and several White Caps in the other. A midnight drive from Nakuru brought them to an isolated farmhouse where the genial host asked his guest what delights might tempt his palate at breakfast? The choice was limited to beer or chicken; both nutritious offerings packed with protein. Opting hastily for chicken, the city slicker tottered off to his kitanda, much the worse for wear. He was woken next morning by a loud explosion and slowly winched his throbbing head from the pillow. Throwing open the dust-covered window, he saw his host emerge from a nearby shed, shotgun over his shoulder and a dripping chicken clutched in his left hand. ‘Morning’, cried the jovial farmer, brandishing the bloody corpse. ‘The last one; but it should be warm enough for breakfast don’t you think?’
History fails to record how well – or how badly – the smooth banker performed on the pitch that afternoon though the possession of a strong stomach is but one of the attributes required for success in the Enterprise Cup. Stamina is another, never better demonstrated than in the first round tie between Impala and Harlequins in 1967, during a period when it was the custom to replay drawn matches. The teams drew 3 – 3 at the Impala ground on Saturday 24th June and one observer remarked on ‘…the pointless – in more senses than one – second half…’ and complained that ‘ the tackling was like the little girl with the curl – when it was good, it was very very good; when it was bad it was horrid.’ The match benefited from considerable audience participation, the referee halting the game at one stage to reprimand a section of the crowd for their ill-judged contributions to sporting commentary. A replay was hastily arranged for Wednesday 28th at the Harlequin ground but that match also ended in stalemate, the score 6-points all. Both matches were riddled with mistakes and the two well-known fly halves missed a hatful of penalties. So the battle continued at the neutral Parklands Sports Club on Saturday 1st July, where Harlequins broke the deadlock and triumphed by 12 points to 3. This duel was surely the longest ever Enterprise Cup tie, the result achieved only after 210 minutes of play.
The year 1968 was a milestone in Ugandan rugby and Kampala RFC was to maintain its hold on the Cup for three years. Like Dar es Salaam and Mombasa, Kampala wrestled with the problems of long distance travel and Harry Harbottle once reported that it took a Ugandan side 13 hours to travel from Tororo to Kitale, a distance of 90 miles. With success comes innovation and the Kampala team of 1969 hit on a novel method to guarantee their participation in the Final of the Enterprise Cup – they hired the Caribou aircraft operated by the Uganda Police Air Wing. After a significant delay for the inevitable – a panic-stricken prop rushing back to Kampala for his forgotten passport – they took off from Entebbe for Wilson Airport. As they neared Nairobi the cloud base sank until they were bumping and yawing at treetop height. Sliding over the escarpment, the pilots found Wilson closed and turned back, finding a convenient hole in the clouds to land at Nakuru. Here the passengers disembarked and drove into town for lunch at the Stag’s Head. Full and fuddled in equal measure, they were called back to help refuel the aeroplane, forming a human chain to pass four-gallon cans to the pilot who poured them into the wing tanks. Being by now rather full of bladder, several aspiring members of the Mile High Club asked the pilot where they might find the aircraft’s toilet and were somewhat disconcerted to learn that this consisted of a rubber tube and a plastic funnel – one size fits all – at the rear loading ramp. Biggles impressed upon them the importance of pointing the tube into the split stream to avoid having Many Unhappy Returns! The cloud lifted eventually and they landed at Wilson, reaching the RFUEA ground in time to change and kick-off. The match, against Kenya Harlequins, was closely contested and Kampala won with a last minute penalty.
Not until 1971 were the young men of Impala able to reassert Kenyan pre-eminence and recover the silverware for the Nairobi cognoscenti, beating their near neighbours Nondescripts in a heated contest by the narrow score of 11 points to 9. They did more than that, dominating the competition for the next four years thanks to a surfeit of skill and tactical cunning. Nowhere was this more evident than in the events that led up to the Enterprise Cup Final of 1972.
The year 1972 had been selected by Nondescripts RFC to be their 50th Birthday, a rather unfortunate decision given that the club was formed in 1923. Those present will recall with pleasure the Anniversary Dinner and the hilarious after-dinner speeches of Messrs McLean, Mackay and Stalker. The Guest of Honour was Carwyn James, Assistant Manager of the British Lions party that had recently returned from New Zealand. There he had coached the Lions to a series victory over the All Blacks, a feat unequalled before or since that date.
The Impala victory over Nondescripts in 1972 was also notable for number of unusual features. It was the first Enterprise Cup Final to require the use of extra-time, the score at no-side being 11 points all. Someone had changed the rules (probably the ghosts of the RFUK Structural sub-committee) and instead of 5-minute periods of extra time, the match was decided by two ten-minute periods, thus ending in deep gloom. Injury again played its part, a broken collarbone reducing one team to 14 men for half of the match. The third peculiarity was the newspaper report suggesting that it had been a ‘dong ding struggle’ enlivened by ‘a grace of tries from Orr and James’, that Impala played with ‘quint determination’ whilst Nondescripts ‘failed to paid touch’. One can only assume it was a very bad line to the copywriter.
 This seems an unfortunate choice of words.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
break, Mean Machine take on Impala this weekend in the Kenya Cup.
The comrades will be looking at extending their change of fortunes by
taking the scalp of Impala. Confidence in the team is high and weeks
of hard work is finally starting to pay off as the team has struck its
rhythm and cords.
Kopondo and crew will be ready for an Impala that has looked less than
steady without Namcos but still in contention for the Kenya Cup.
I will be there to cheer but my mama will sadly miss the game due to
exhaustion from the Uganda trip plus flu due to this unpredictable
Nairobi weather. Go Machine Go.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
One constant feature of the early competition was the custom of playing the two Semi finals and Final knockout format over a single weekend with entertainment and dancing in the evenings – the old Rugby Weekend had developed a raison d’etre; life of its own. Recognising that such concentrated effort would impose a significant strain on bone and muscle, not to mention the liver, the RFUK decreed that Semi-final matches should be of two 30-minute halves and the Final of two 35-minute halves. Extra time in the event of a draw was limited to 5-minutes each way and the Enterprise Cup was to be presented to the winning captain on the field of play immediately after no-side. The venue for these final ties was invariably Nairobi, guaranteeing a substantial number of paying spectators. Up-country sides often contested this decision, particularly since the Final was soon being played more or less routinely at Parklands Sports Club which had a long term arrangement with RFUK to host representative matches but was also the home ground of Nondescripts RFC.
In each of the first two years of inter-district competition the Cup was won by Nairobi District, drawing from the several clubs in and around the capital city where competent players were thick on the ground. The change of format to ‘club sides representing districts’ proved to be a great leveller and for the next five years Eldoret, representing the Plateau District of Western Kenya, won the cup.
The Eldoret XV was liberally sprinkled with the South African farmers who had transformed the rich soils of western Kenya into an agricultural powerhouse. The large, strong and deeply religious farmers of Eldoret carried all before them on the rugby field. Their domination stimulated the urban cunning of city-based clubmen who proposed that the next Final of the Enterprise Cup be played on a very wet Sunday. The Eldoret men were known to follow two religions, Christianity and Rugby Union, and they usually refused to turn out on the Lord’s Day. Desperate to profit from the inner conflict that a Sunday fixture could create, the smooth-tongued townies hastily assured the cautious farmers that the muddy morass that was the Parklands pitch had been ‘…exorcised and thus cleared by a higher authority for Sunday play.’ The match was played and the Lord’s side won anyway. Not until 1937 did Eldoret release their hold on the Enterprise Cup. In that year the semi finalists were Eldoret, Nondescripts, Nakuru and Northern Tanganyika (Arusha), the last two reaching this stage for the first time. The spread of competitive rugby for the first seven years of Enterprise Cup competition is revealed by the list of teams that competed in the earlier rounds – Ruiru, Thika, Muthaiga, Old Cambrians, Kitale, Kakamega, Nanyuki, Nyeri, Naivasha, Tanga, Mombasa, and Dar es Salaam. Several hundred spectators watched the Semi-finals and Finals, the latter reported as a splendid game, the best final seen for some years in which Nondescripts pipped Eldoret by 11 points to 4.
The same pattern continued into 1938, and in a mirror image of the previous year, the semi-finalists were Eldoret, Nakuru, Nondescripts and Northern Tanganyika. Nondescripts had scraped past Muthaiga in the Nairobi District final, a match that may have been the swansong for Muthaiga RFC, which slipped into a coma and subsequent oblivion soon afterwards. The Final was lively if one can believe the spectator who observed that ‘…the referee’s whistle had enough wind passed through it to start a typhoon.’ Nondescripts kept the trophy, beating Eldoret by 19 points to 9.
Uganda Kobs competed in the Enterprise Cup for the first time in 1939 and were denied a place in the Semi-finals only by Eldoret’s desperate defence, going down by 8 points to 6. Mombasa, Nondescripts and Nakuru were the other three semi-finalists. The Enterprise Cup was by now a significant social event in the Kenyan sporting calendar, well publicised in the press and on the radio, with spectators admitted at Shs2.00 per person. Some cynical observers suggested that ‘…it might be a good thing were Nondescripts to lose this year…’ and others that ‘…unless someone kidnaps Kotzenburg the cup is in his pocket.’ We must assume that the hunt for the kidnapper continues, for Eldoret beat Nondescripts and regained the trophy they had lost two years before.
Competitive rugby was suspended during the Second World War and the Enterprise Cup was locked away until 1947 when competition resumed. It was as if there had been no break at all. The Semi-finals on 2nd August 1947 saw Eldoret struggle past Nakuru whilst Nondescripts gained an easy victory over Mombasa. It was the fifth consecutive final between these two clubs and one cynic who saw Nondescripts play in the Semi-final noted that ‘…there was too much gallery play which might delight their vociferous dames on the touchline but it isn’t rugger. Against Eldoret today these parlour tricks will receive short shrift.’ And so they did, though to be fair, it was the referee who delivered the short shrift when he sent one off the Nondescript forwards from the field for foul play. The Western Kenya side retained the trophy with a victory by 12 points to 5 and this post-war rebirth of Enterprise Cup competition was rendered even more meaningful when Captain C.W. Hamley RN, formerly the Navigating Officer of HMS Enterprise, presented the trophy to the winning side.
The Nakuru side had impressed those who watched the 1947 semi-finals. It was said that their rugger was ‘…the stuff that will endure…and may Nakuru players know and play the game as it should be played – as a cavalry charge and not a Commando free-for all’. All perceptive stuff, for a new name appeared on the Cup after the competition of 1948, the first Nakuru victory. Normal service was resumed in 1949 when Nondescripts beat Eldoret in a close game at Parklands, continuing their winning ways in 1950 and 1951. The teams which had started the season in expectation of winning the Enterprise Cup included Nondescripts, Railway, Army, Old Cambrians, Ruiru/Thika (in Central Zone) Mackinnon Road, Mombasa, Northern Tanganyika (in Eastern Zone) and Kitale, Eldoret, Nakuru, Kericho and Uganda Kobs (in Western Zone). Club sides from all three countries of East Africa were now regularly competing in the Enterprise Cup.
Three years of Nondescript domination were enough to make the RFUK Committee exhume the rotting corpse of their Structural sub-committee and a new Provincial structure was imposed during 1952 and 1953. It surprised many when the Enterprise Cup left the Highlands in 1952, carried off by Coast Province. This was its one and only seaside holiday in 75 years and it was over very quickly, Western Kenya recapturing the trophy in 1953. The popularity of the new Provincial format may be gauged by the fact that this editor has been unable to locate any sensible comment on its success or otherwise. A concept without a defender, the new structure was abandoned in 1954 when the ‘club representing district’ format returned. Almost inevitably, the two finalists were Nondescripts and Eldoret, the result a victory for Nondescripts. It was a close game, the score 13 points to 6, and Eldoret was reduced to 14 men in the first minute of the match when their captain was injured. Incapacitating injuries were not unusual in the history of the Enterprise Cup and the neutral observer must wonder how the record might look had substitutions been permitted.
Injury was not the only malign event to influence the result of matches; the referees also had a role. One gentleman nursed throughout his life a feeling of injustice that was implanted when he crashed over for the try that would win his team a place in the Enterprise Cup Final, only to see the referee’s spectacles lying on the ground beside him and hear the blinded arbiter call out ‘Try unseen! Scrum five!’
Another referee to have influenced the outcome of an Enterprise Cup match was he who consumed a substantial dish of chilled dill tomatoes, washed down with ice-cold lager, as part of his pre-match preparation. His control of subsequent proceedings was somewhat marred by the length of time he spent lurking in the undergrowth, sowing next years tomato crop. Other referees have been accused of going to extremes, the two favourites being extreme antagonism to one or more players on the field and extreme ignorance of the Laws of the Game.
The administrative upheavals of 1952-54 presaged a redistribution of power in the land and neither Eldoret nor Nondescripts, previously part owners of the trophy, were to win the Enterprise Cup for sometime to come. The next decade saw several new names on the trophy, starting in 1955 with Kenya Harlequins. The Kenya Harlequin FC had been formed in 1952, mopping up sundry sporting types liberated by the demise of several army and Nairobi garrison sides. They became the tenants of the RFUEA; played their matches at the new Union ground and very rapidly became a force in Nairobi rugby, both on and off the field. Not for nothing did the pompous Chairman of much later RFUEA Committee point his rather patrician nose in the general direction of an argumentative Scottish wing-forward representing Kenya Harlequins and ask ‘Who is that long-haired young whippersnapper?’
The new Union ground was now the venue for the Enterprise Cup Final and this might be one reason why Kenya Harlequins expected to retain their hold on the Cup in 1956 when they again represented the Eastern Zone. This time they took the field against the surprise package of the year; the old Uganda RFC team now renamed Kampala RFC to avoid confusion with the recently formed Uganda RFU.
To the surprise of many, Kampala beat Kenya Harlequins by 14 points to 3 and the Enterprise Cup accompanied them back to Uganda. It was the first time that the trophy left Kenya but by no means the last. Kenya Harlequins regained the trophy in 1957, only to lose their grip on the Cup in 1958 when it was won by Nakuru, themselves experiencing a resurgence of enthusiasm for the game.
 No pun intended.
 It appears Kotzenburg was the biggest star in the Nondescript sky.