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Thread: Kenyan Rugby on the Rise

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    Kenyan Rugby on the Rise

    Following the landmark event of the Kenyan Sevens team reaching the Final of an IRB Tournament for the first time today in Adelaide, here are a couple of articles in the build up to hosting the IRB Junior Trophy this month.
    This is the undercard to the main Championship in Japan in a couple of months and holds the major reward of promotion for the winners to next years Championship.
    It is especially pleasing that TWF have a few members with personal connection to these stories out of Kenya however, it could be any country, this is what makes Rugby a great sport to be a part of.
    Enjoy!

    Kenyan Rugby set for landmark first in 2009

    (IRB.COM) Sunday 4 January 2009

    For the first time in 2009, Kenya will host a 15-a-side world event on behalf of the International Rugby Board.

    After the huge success of the first IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy in Chile in 2008, eight more Under 20 teams from developing rugby nations will travel to Nairobi for the second edition of the tournament in April 2009.

    Chile became the final side to book their place at the event by overcoming Paraguay in the South American Under 19 Championship in Cordoba, Argentina, in November.

    They join hosts Kenya in the draw along with the five other regional qualifiers - Namibia from Africa, Romania from Europe, Papua New Guinea from Oceania, Korea from Asia and the Cayman Islands from the Caribbean - as well as the USA, who were relegated from the IRB Junior World Championship after finishing bottom of the premier junior tournament in 2008.

    Massive incentive

    The wide regional splash of teams ensures the Trophy will continue to offer a fascinating blend of culture, language and rugby tradition, while the incentive for winning could scarcely be bigger: promotion to the IRB Junior World Championship in 2010, a tournament that features all of the world's top rugby playing nations, and which was won in 2008 by New Zealand.

    "The Under 19 team’s achievement in reaching the event is outstanding and credit to their coaches and credit to the players," said Romania's Director of Rugby Ellis Meachen, who is busy building the next generation of Romanian international stars and sees the tournament in Kenya as a key part of his plans.

    “A couple of those Under 19 players I wanted to take on our senior tour of New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, but the importance of trying to get up into that top junior rugby group was more important, so we left them behind and they were some of the standout players.”

    Rugby in Kenya

    For the IRB and the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR), the region's ruling body, taking the young tournament to Kenya offers a further chance to grow Rugby outside of the Game's traditional markets.

    “Following the resounding success of the tournament in Chile, the Trophy is now firmly established alongside the IRB Junior World Championship as a key international development tool for players and coaches” said IRB Tournament Manager Philippe Bourdarias.

    “The Kenyan Rugby Union is dedicated to hosting a highly professional tournament that will not only be of benefit to the Rugby community in Kenya, but across the whole of Africa.”

    The 2008 Trophy in Santiago was a landmark occasion for Rugby in South America. It acted as a catalyst for growth in interest and participation in Chile through educational programmes, affordable ticketing and interaction with schools.

    The final, won by Uruguay against the hosts, attracted one of the largest crowds ever for a Rugby match in Chile with 7,000 spectators in attendance. Kenya's Rugby bosses are hoping for a similar boost to their Game's ongoing development.

    "We are really delighted to have an opportunity of this nature. We want to leave nothing to chance and show that we deserve to have it," said Kenya Rugby Football Union President Richard Omwela, who is also hopeful that the event will foster closer working relationships with other sports to open up a whole new range of sporting facilities within the country.

    Fastest-growing sport

    With soccer's fortunes flagging in the country, Rugby is currently Kenya's fastest-growing sport - particularly amongst school children - and hosting this tournament can only further boost that status quo.

    "The kids are opting to play what they see as a well-organised and entertaining sport and they are coming to Rugby as that alternative," said Omwela.

    The tournament will kick off with a first round of matches on 21 April and three subsequent match days will be played on 25 April, 29 April and 3 May.

    Development boost for Rugby in Kenya

    (IRB.COM) Wednesday 11 February 2009

    Over 100,000 primary school children in Kenya will be introduced to Rugby through the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2009 legacy and development programme, the International Rugby Board announced today.

    The extensive legacy programme, which coincides with the start of the key development tournament in Nairobi in April, will also feature significant investment in stadium infrastructure and pitch enhancement projects, grass roots coaching and Rugby equipment support.

    “The IRB is committed to growing the Game across Africa and in 2007 the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) IRB Regional Association signed an historic accord with the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) aimed at jointly fostering Sport and Rugby in Africa,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.

    “The IRB currently invests over US$2.2 million a year in CAR Union development programmes and Regional tournament infrastructure aimed at raising the competitiveness of the Game in Africa. A further US$1 million is being invested in the organisation of the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy, of which US$100,000 will be dedicated to the tournament’s legacy programme.”

    Over the next four years the IRB and CAR will oversee the roll out of a wide-reaching grass roots development programme aimed at introducing 100,000 primary school children to the Sport by 2012. The project, run in conjunction with the Kenyan Government, is the largest of its kind in the country.

    “The schools programme will be complimented with a dedicated project aimed at improving host venue facilities, including pitch improvement and maintenance for the two venues where the Trophy matches will be played (the Rugby Football Union of East Africa and Impala stadiums), meaning that the tournament’s legacy will stretch beyond the final round of matches,” said IRB Tournaments Manager Philippe Bourdarias.

    “Scrum machines, post protectors and ancillary kit will also be distributed as part of the tournament legacy programme, while improvements will also be made to Rugby facilities, including changing rooms. It is a very exciting development.”

    Kenya Rugby Football Union Chairman Richard Omwela added: “Kenya Rugby is looking forward to these initiatives with great relish. The IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy will aid a key strategic aim of ours – turning Rugby into a truly community Sport. It’s no secret that the primary school network is the closest of all to the communities in Kenya. This is a logical first step of taking Rugby to the Kenyan communities.”

    “The primary schools project together with the infrastructural initiatives will be a fitting legacy of the Junior World Rugby Trophy tournament and their success will critical to the development of the Game in Kenya and Africa as a whole.”

    The IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2009 featuring Cayman Islands, Chile, Kenya, Korea, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Romania and USA will kick off on April 21 with subsequent match days on April 25, April 29 and the positional play-offs and Final on May 3.

    Osir: Junior World Trophy key for Kenya

    (IRB.COM) Thursday 2 April 2009

    This weekend at the International Rugby Sevens Australia in Adelaide the Kenya Sevens team will again be flying the flag for their country on the world stage with captain Humphrey Kayange and his brother Collins Injera leading the charge for a first Cup final appearance.

    Kenya are no longer a team to underestimate on the IRB Sevens World Series with two Cup semi final appearances already this season, not to mention a last four appearance at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai last month to show for their efforts.

    South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand – the latter more than once – have all come unstuck against Benjamin Ayimba’s side this year as Kenya’s Sevens stars continue to eclipse the nation’s achievements in the 15-a-side game.

    This anomaly in the international game, though, could be set to change over the coming years as a result of the legacy created by the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2009, which Kenya will host in Nairobi from 21 April to 3 May.

    Youth key to future development

    The importance of Kenya hosting this eight-team Under 20 tournament in terms of their future development is not lost on their former Sevens captain and now manager Oscar Osir.

    “Just to give you an indication of how important it is, this year in June, which is when the Government budget here sort of starts and ends, Rugby will be introduced for the first time in the history of Kenya into the curriculum of sports,” Osir told Total Rugby recently.

    “That is where it will all begin, that is how serious it is because our development of the game at the junior level is not very good, it is not where it should be, it is actually poor because the average rugby player in Kenya starts playing at 14/15.

    “You can sort of see that in our game in how we play, but we strongly believe that if we can get to the lower ages, just like any sporting discipline, then we probably have a good future.

    “The Government is taking this very seriously and they have now introduced Rugby into the sporting curriculum which is a big thing in Kenya because obviously athletics comes first and then football and to have Rugby at that level it means the Government are taking us as seriously.

    World Cup target

    “The development of the sport is crucial in our country, I said this before a couple of years back, I am just worried we will end up becoming a Sevens nation as opposed to a total Rugby nation, but we have to start somewhere.

    “We don’t have the luxury of the top nations of having a rich Rugby history so we have to start somewhere and Sevens has been a good start for us, there is a lot of enthusiasm back at home and we get some front page reviews which is really, really big as far as our sport is concerned.

    “Now with the Junior World Rugby Trophy in Kenya and the Government involvement we feel that we will begin to see the effect in the next four or five years and I must commend the IRB for sending the tournament there and hopefully in the next few years we will see Kenya at a World Cup in fifteens.”

    The pathway towards that goal will start with Kenya’s Under 20s making their Junior World Rugby Trophy bow with matches against Namibia, fellow debutants the Cayman Islands and USA, the side relegated from the IRB Junior World Championship last year.

    Kenya Under 20 head coach Mitch Ocholla, who will be assisted by Paul Murunga, has named a revised 26-strong squad who will lead the home nation’s challenge for the tournament, the winner of which will be promoted to next year’s IRB Junior World Championship.

    Hooked on Rugby

    This Under 20 national squad is already playing its part in trying to attract more Kenyan youngsters to switch to Rugby from their favourite pastime of football by holding clinics at Jericho Sports Ground.

    They were joined by the Kenya Sevens players who did not travel to Hong Kong for the IRB Sevens World Series event and the intention is to develop these clinics to ensure there is Rugby played at the venue every Sunday afternoon.

    “In Eastlands they take sports very seriously and up to now their only escape has been soccer,” explained Eric Situma, a project co-ordinator at the Kenya Rugby Football Union.

    “We want to ride on the hype around Rugby to get them interested. Once they get hooked, it will be a big step in Rugby development in this area which has produced some of the best sports men and women.”

    Kenya Under 20 squad:

    Forwards: Lilako Curtis, Dennis Karani, Eric Kitheka, Mathew Musalia, Jeremy Wandui, Oscar Achieng, Ryan Awori, Mugambi Kithamba, Steve Muniafu, Kevin Gacheru, Collins Omae, Ken Kangaya, Jeff Ojwach, Joel Ouko, Cedric Okich.

    Backs: George Mutuku, Robert Ouko, Kenny Andola, Anthony Nyandigisi, Patrice Agunda, Graham Dinda, Joseph Osore, Felix Otiende, Michael Matayo, Owen Ocholla, Oscar Otindo.

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    They were great last weekend and the game is growing!

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    Awesome for the Game. kenyans are Powerful tall & lean and no doubt we will see them becoming more and more influential on the world stage not only through the sevens but also 15 a side...

    Will be great to start having South Africa playing their regional friends as they once did... Its been too long since weve had anyone in Africa even close to the strength of SA in any form of Sport.....

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    Zim (or KQ), the only adult Kenyan Rugby players I recall seeing are the Sevens players, who are all basically like emu's...without the big arse or feathers...
    How do they go for tight five body shapes?
    I imagine depth would be a bit of an issue there?
    With modified diet and weights do Kenyans beef up?
    I know that diet is a major reason Australian born Tongan's and Fijian's are often bigger than their island cousins.

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    Veteran zimeric's Avatar
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    Burgs kenya is a big ass country with (and dont quote me on this) at least 40tribes.
    The Coastal areas have the more Typical Central African physique mostly dominated by the Kikuyu
    The inland Areas have a Ugandan/Tanzanian influence - Masai, Samburu & Turkana's etc and they are the taller ones...

    You also have a large ex-pat community if Pom's, Zimbo's, Zambians, Namibians and South African and they are generally quite beefy too.
    so in short yes.

    the key is development and funding.

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