What a decade it has been for Kenya rugby, especially in the fifteens code, where we played in the Vodacom cup, had two close shaves with World cup qualification and rose to a record 23rd in the world rankings.
These past ten years have been the most successful in the country’s rugby history across the board, we finally stood up to be counted in the sport, globally. We’ll delve more into the highlights of the decade in another post, for now let’s look at the fifteen players who stood out in this decade.
In selecting the below players, we looked at two things, first, the number of national team caps earned in the duration i.e consistency and secondly individual impact/success at both club and country. So here goes ;
1. Moses Amusala (KCB) – The ‘big bad bully’ earned his first Simbas cap sometime in 2011 and has not looked back since. He has had a domineering presence at both club and country and has been an integral part of the success at both levels.
2. Sammy Warui (Nakuru) – Warui made his Simbas debut in 2012 and played for the Simbas up until 2017, when the juggernaut that was Nakuru RFC had just started picking up steam. He was an integral part of that Nakuru squad and also the all dominating Simba sides.
3. Curtis Lilako (KCB) – During this decade, Lilako has played across the front row for both club and country, earning his first cap as a hooker in 2011, to this year when he captained the side at Tight head prop. Lilako has had a decade and a half, picking up the league’s top try scorer in 2014, then going on to lead his club to a Kenya Cup three-peat.
4. Wilson Kopondo (Quins) – Kopo earned his first cap in 2009 and has been a constant name in the side ever since, captaining the side between 2013 and 2017. He was so good that he had retired from the sport in 2017 due to injury but head coach Jerome spotted him during a training session and called him back to the squad.
5. Oliver Mang’eni (KCB) – Olishe earned his first cap in 2012 and through the decade he has cemented his place as the line out general of our times. He has been the undisputed king of the skies at both club and country, playing a key role in setting up the line out as an attacking option.
6. Mike Okombe (Nakuru) – The late Mike Okombe made his first cap around 2012, the marauding back row quickly made a name for himself as the best all round back rows in the country, up until his untimely death, Okombe had been the baddest man in the land.
7. Andrew Amonde (KCB) – Asusu made his Kenya Simbas debut sometime in 2009 and has gone on to be the player of the decade across all codes. Though he has spent most of his time in the sevens side, he is the only player to seamlessly transition between the two codes for both club and country whenever he is called upon. Most recently helping the Simbas turn around their Africa Cup campaign fresh from helping the Shujaa avoid relegation from the HSBC World series.
8. Joshua Chisanga (Homeboyz) – The reign of Joshu started sometime in 2013 and what a reign it has been, Joshu literally stormed into the scene and grabbed it by the balls, going on to become one of the few players in the country to play professionally.
9. Edwin Achayo (Kabras) – Achayo had the daunting task of taking the number 9 shirt from Peter Mutai and though it took him some time to settle in, once he found his feet Achayo became the best number nine in this decade, eventually hanging his boots in 2018 to focus on coaching.
10. Isaac Adimo (Quins) – Wamamba made his Simbas debut in 2011, competing with the likes of Nato Simiyu and Lavin Asego, he quickly curved out a niche for himself, becoming the first choice fly half by 2015. He faded away towards the end of the decade but I think we are yet to see the last of him.
11. Jacob Ojee (KCB) – The swag runner started the decade as a full back, earning his first Simbas cap in 2014, to form part of the most exciting back three of the decade. OJ has also been an integral part of his club’s success and has started carving his path in the Shujaa side.
12. Nick Barasa (Kabras) – Like Achayo, Nick had his best years this decade in a Quins shirt, making his Kenya Simbas debut in 2012. The diminutive wrecking ball went on to become a menace to defences locally and internationally, being an integral part of the all dominating Simbas side of 2014 to 2017.
13. Fabian Olando (Kabras) – Rango made his debut in the Simbas side in 2013, having already played for the Shujaa by this point in time. His versatile style of play and command of the 13 channel defensively saw him quickly become a regular starter for the side. Injuries in the last three years of the decade saw him relinquish his position, having already made his mark.
14. Darwin Mukidza (KCB) – The smiling assassin made his first bow for the Simbas in 2013, having consistently made the provisional squads across the codes before then. His all round game play off the boot and with ball in hand has brought unprecedented success to both club and country.
15. Vincent Mose (Impala) – If there is one player that epitomizes, the phrase, ‘aging like fine wine or whiskey,’ it has to be, Mose. He not only did he do it in Kenya, but he also crossed over to Uganda and owned the league. Wowing the Ugandans with his ability to score from virtually anywhere, as he had done back home since making his Simbas debut in 2009, until his retirement in 2018.
There you have it, as always feel free to share your comments and teams of the decade in the comments section below.
Also check out the Shujaa team of the decade – Here
See you on the other side of the decade!
KWISHA… Nimeruka Nje!!!