Nakuru to host the Great Rift 10-a-side rugby tournament this weekend
Written by James Munyua
The Great Rift Valley 10-a-side tournament returns at the Nakuru Athletic Club on May 20 and 21 following a three-year hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 30th edition of the tournament is fully sponsored through the Nakuru County Government under the leadership of H.E Governor Susan Kihika.
The last edition of the tournament was held in 2019 where Champions Menengai defeated Homeboyz 10-5 in the final while KCB edged Blak Blad 17-5 to finish third.
Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology claimed fifth place with a 33-10 victory over Strathmore Leos with Nakuru lifting the Challenge trophy.
Nakuru RFC chairman Ombui Ratemo while speaking to this writer said finances continue to be the biggest impediment to the tournament and acknowledged the County Government of Nakuru for helping them get sponsors for the 30th edition of the great Rift A- 10 aside.
He added that the team requires more than Kshs. 100,000 per week just to provide meals for the players and without sponsorship it becomes a huge challenge for them.
“If we have a trip to Nairobi from Nakuru for example we use around sh120,000 in one day to cater for transportation, meals and allowances for the players. To grow this sport we need solid sponsorship,” Ratemo said.
He added that most players with sponsorship can have as many tournaments as possible in Nakuru County which would create opportunities in the tourism and hospitality industry.
Nakuru RFC whose home is at the Nakuru Athletic Club has made tremendous strides since its inspection producing some of the finest rugby players in Kenya and abroad.
Among them is Kenyan International Rugby Player Monate Akuei who joined the New York Old Blue Rugby team in the United States, a club that features in the American Premiership Rugby.
Monate joined Nakuru RFC team B and later in 2016 after his high school education at Kirobon high school in Kuresoi South Sub-County earned his spot for the club’s main side under head coach Enos Otieno.
The 23-year-old back row was born in the face of war back in South Sudan where he spent the better part of his early childhood in a refugee camp in Kakuma in Kenya where he and his family landed when they were in search of peace.
His journey to the top of his playing career has been inspiring to many young Kenyans, especially at the Nakuru club.
Another player from Nakuru RFC to the world is Thomas Okeyo who was signed by South African-based rugby club Griffons.
From Nakuru, Okeyo also debuted for the Kenyan side, Simbas in 2021 and South African Varsity Cup side University of Johannesburg.
Both Okeyo and Akuei will make their debuts in the Currie Cup Premier Division and the Major League Rugby this year respectively.
According to Nakuru RFC Chairman Ombui Ratemo, the club also trains children from the age of 8 to 13 years who later can join the club after high school.
Ratemo also reiterated that Rugby is a game that requires a lot of discipline which is inculcated to the players in every step of the training and those willing to join have to adhere to the highest level of ethics for the game.
The Great Rift Valley A-side creates a huge economic impact on Nakuru County as 60 per cent of the people who came to watch the game come from outside the county.
This boosts the local economy including hotels, bars and restaurants, the transport industry as well as tourism industry as a whole
Rugby is said to have originated at Rugby School in Warwickshire, England, in 1823. William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it in his arms during a football game at Rugby School in England.
In 1863 a collection of boarding schools and clubs decided upon a rule set and in 1871 Rugby Football Union was officially formed.
That same year, the first-ever international match was played between England and Scotland with Scotland taking the win 1-0.
South Africa has the most registered Rugby players in the world with 651,146 and England has the most players overall with 2,139,604.