Jitters as new Kenya Cup season kicks off

Thursday, November 24th, 2022 09:40 | By
KCB backrower Peter Waitere with a break off a scrumdown situation in a recent Kenya Cup match against Harlequins at the RFUEA Grounds. PD/alex njue

Reigning champions Kabras Sugar are confident of a bright start as they open their Kenya Cup title defence against newcomers Catholic Monks at the Kakamega Showground in Kakamega Town on Saturday.

The Kakamega match is among the Day One fixtures set to be played during the start of the new Kenya Cup season this weekend.

Kabras have been busy in the pre-season, playing several build-up fixtures that included the Victoria Cup tournament and a friendly clash against Kenya Harlequin last weekend.

Catholic Monks are making a return to the top tier after an eight-year hiatus and do have their work cut out in Kakamega.

Other matches on the first day will witness  last season’s runners-up Menengai Oilers battle with three-time champions Mean Machine who are also making their return to the top flight after spending last season in the Kenya Rugby Union championship. This match is set to be played at the Nakuru Showground.

The KCB Sports Club plays host to former champions Kenya Harlequin in Ruaraka. Both sides have equally been busy in the pre-season; KCB won the Impala Floodlit Cup just a fortnight ago.

During this tournament, they edged out Harlequin 14-10 in their quarterfinal match. Harlequin, who ended their pre-season preps on a high with a 35-24 win over Kabras Sugar last weekend will be keen to improve on last season’s performance that saw them freefall to a tenth-place finish after starting the season on a high.

The all-varsity clash between Strathmore Leos and Masinde Muliro at The Cage in Madaraka should excite rugby fans as well as the match between Mwamba and Homeboyz. Another crowd-puller match will be when Blak Blad host Nakuru at Kenyatta University.

Meanwhile, England back-row Sam Simmonds feels his decision to move to France after the World Cup is the right one for his career.

The 28-year-old will join Montpellier, having spent all his career at Exeter.

The move will rule the British and Irish Lion out of England contention.

“I knew that that decision of playing abroad, you wouldn’t be able to be selected for England, but for me I felt like I’m focused on the here and now,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“I feel like I can still have such an effect in an England shirt, such an effect in an Exeter Chiefs shirt for the next 12 months now, and I think I’m at peace with that decision.”

Simmonds has scored 80 tries in 119 games for Exeter and set the regular-season record for tries scored in the Premiership in the 2020-21 season, when he went over 20 times for the Chiefs.

He was controversially not selected by Eddie Jones for England at the time, despite his form, but Warren Gatland rewarded him with a place in the Lions squad that toured South Africa, where he won a Test cap in the final game of the series.

He has since become a regular in Jones’ squads, featuring in every game of this year’s Six Nations and starting two of England’s three matches this autumn.

“There’s plenty of players that are going to be coming up behind me and I felt that it was the right time to make a decision for after the World Cup to pursue a new life in France, and for my family and for me to experience that because I have loved my time at Exeter, but I haven’t experienced anything outside of Devon,” he added.

“I feel it was the right decision at the right time and we’ll see how it goes.”

The decision to move will see Simmonds leave a club he made his debut for as a teenager in an Anglo-Welsh Cup match at London Welsh in November 2012.

Since then he has helped the club win two Premiership titles and a European Champions Cup, while establishing himself as one of the Premiership’s most dynamic strike runners.

                        -Additional reporting  BBC

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