2014 Elgon Cup shelved

By francis marangu
Apr 28, 2021
  • Kenya 15's team players will not be part of Bamburi Rugby Super Series.

  • James Kangethe looks for a route one through Uganda national rugby team in last year's Elgon Cup. The annual Test has been shelved to pave way for a friendly against Portugal in June.

This year’s Elgon Cup, an annual rugby Test Match between Kenya and Uganda has been shelved to pave way for a possible international friendly match between Kenya and Portugal in Nairobi.

Mwangi Muthee, the Kenya Rugby Union chairman made the announcement on Sunday when welcoming the Tusker Simba XV team from South Africa where the team played in the Vodacom Cup.

The dates proposed for the two matches are June 7 and 11 at the Rugby Football Union of East Africa ground. Commenting about the Elgon Cup, Muthee stated it had been overtaken by events. He however added Uganda could still play against a Kenya A side.

Initially, South Africa's Western Province was to be Kenya’s opponent in the friendly but KRU made changes with the advice from International Rugby Board. “Playing Western Province would have been a match like any other. IRB advised us to make it a full international match so that we can benefit in ranking,” said Muthee.

Portugal, ranked 24th in the IRB ranking, is two places below Namibia who will be one of the contenders for Africa’s single ticket to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Tribute to IRB

Muthee paid tribute to the IRB's Mark Egan, the Head of Competitions & Performance, who helped Kenya secure the fixture. “We have previously played Namibia and other regional teams in test matches and this will be the first one involving an overseas side. The boys need this level of competition as they struggle to qualify for the world cup.”

Players, members of the technical bench and sponsors welcomed the initiative to expose the team ahead of their critical assignments ahead. “Portugal is a good deal because the match will give us exposure just like our sevens counterparts. It is a good stepping stone as we prepare for Madagascar,” noted Brian Nyikuli who captained the team in the last month of the tournament.

Wangila Simiyu, the team manager, agreed. “If we want to play at the World Cup, it will not be possible by playing Rwanda and Uganda. We need such high profile matches."

Joe Muganda, East Africa Breweries Limited Managing Director, said Kenyans will be relieved that the days when test matches counted are back.

Speaking about the team’s experience in South Africa, Simiyu said it helped the boys grow in many dimensions and will look to build on that. “There were many challenges down South but our dream was big, the boys had a big heart that saw us withstand. We had to undergo harsh conditions to prepare them for even hard tasks ahead,” Wangila noted.

Unavailable for BRSS

“Whoever left South Africa without a change will never change.” The players will take a break and only play in the Kenya Cup semifinals and finals before resuming training. They will not be available for the Bamburi Rugby Super Series that kicked off over the weekend.

Nyikuli said players were happy with the exposure they got. “It was a good experience for us especially winning the first match against EP Kings. It gave other teams a message that we were there to compete and not fill numbers.”

Muthee defended the team against accusations of poor performance saying they drew lots of positives. “We are not looking at losses and wins but the gains this team has come back with. Many people talked about cricket scores but going to Vodacom Cup was unknown to us since we didn't know what to expect.”

KRU is in talks with South African Rugby Union, SARU, to have Kenya permanently admitted into the Vodacom Cup. Muthee hinted at the possibility of Kenya playing its home matches in Nairobi if the deal goes through.