About TheBench_KE

The Opinions From The Sidelines

Rugby 101: The Basics

This one is for the commoner, the so called ‘rugby dummy’ –this demeaning term, sigh. We all start somewhere, and in this context getting to understand the sport of Rugby isn’t the easiest of things, for starters…

si-retail-bonds

 

With the ever growing troop of enthusiasts to local rugby matches, as witnessed recently when Kenya played hosts to Uganda (Elgon Cup/RA Gold cup), Tunisia and Senegal (both for the Rugby Africa Gold Cup). It is evident that rugby is a growing weekend plan, for many obvious reason- even the weird ones, such as the thrill of watching shredded and stealthy-belly trotting athletes in skimpy shorts knock the daylights out of each other -laughs, to having a chance to stare at the beaming beauties, bachelors we see you.

Some bachelorettes too, brand marketing pale RFUEA, I bet there are many couples that have their foundation cemented at the stands of this arena…

That notwithstanding though, the ever growing popularity in rugby has brought about imparity in understanding of the game. From starters to staunch side stand tacticians and I am out to assist the starters, but before that, lets understand this…

The ‘Fanatics’ and ‘Fun-atics’

A quick interpretation of the two;

The Fanatic cuzo, is well versed with terms and rules of the game, or fairly doing well in interpreting calls made by the center referee. He is also the coach, player and referee from the stands… add to that, the Video Referral Assistant (VRA) or in rugby 101 terms, thee TMO guy.

download

Fanatics & ‘Fun’-atics? You decide | Safaricom, Pic-centre

On the other hand, Funatics; are the ‘lesser versed ones’–for lack of a better term- of some sort on matters rugby. They are ever talkative of anything rugby unrelated, when the game is in general play. They will be filled in a myrrh of ecstasy and jubilation when a pacey one sprints to the end of the pitch and dives into the greens- a plus. They are the ever inquisitive ones, which of course is an indicator they are keen. But it’s the bogging questions they ask that can really get to the nerves of a ‘Fanatic’…

Why did he do that? What does that mean? What is that for? Where are they running to? Why is he throwing it that way? Of course they end with an ‘ouch!’ for every tackle or fend… Jeez!

To tackle some of the commonly used terminologies and acts in the field of rugby, here is a run through the most basic of Rugby Union, 15-A-side.

Generally…

A game of rugby 15-A-side, lasts 80 minutes with two halves of 40 minutes each. The objective being for the offence (the team in possession of the ball) to get past the defense and score a TRY –NOT A GOAL, A TRY.

In rugby the ball is carried forward, can be kicked forward but NEVER passed forward

Numerically, there are 15 players and 7 reserves (regularly referred to as substitutes) making a total of 22 players drafted for a game.

What is a TRY?

A try a is a score awarded when the offence gets past the defense and brings the ball to ground at the latter’s try box. Now, a try box is the extended patch of green behind those taaaaaaall posts that form a letter ‘H’.

try c

Kenya and South Africa’s sensationals Collins Injera & Seabelo Ssenatla, respectively earning a try. By placing & by diving, essence is to ground the ball whilst still at hand | Getty Images, SA Rugby Mag

A try is worth 5 points. Don’t ask what is a Penalty try, zile rahisi kwanza please.

What is a CONVERSION?

 

kick

Kenya’s International Darwin Mukidza (left) & Former New Zealand All Blacks international Dan Carter (right) line up place kicks | Michael Khateli, Stuff.co.nz

A team that scores a try is handed an opportunity to CONVERT the ball for an extra 2 points, done by a place kick (kicking the ball from ground)- in the case of 15-A-side rugby or a drop-kick in 10s/7s-A-Side rugby, towards the taaaaaaall ‘H’ posts. A successful CONVERSION is when the ball goes through the upper part of the ‘H’… not below as it happens in soccer.

Ama hiyo soccer mtauilizia ni nini, okay Football then.

A successful penalty is worth 3 points and is awarded in case of an infringement. Another way of getting additional points is through a drop-goal kick aimed at the ‘H’ in open play (mchezo ukiendelea), which is worth 3 points.

Remember, a conversion/drop kick is 2 points; a drop-goal/penalty is 3 points. Sawa?

Why are they bent like that, what is a RUCK?

Ladies, you are the culprits at asking this, which is okay though, coz they will always explain. This one occurs when two opposing players COME INTO CONTACT OVER THE BALL, characterized by players having their butt ends protruding at a very precise angle, and seem to be involved in a tussle.

The scenario happens when the attacking player (one who is carrying the ball forward) takes the ball into contact and is tackled to ground by an opposing player. The opposing player (or his teammate) while trying to take the ball, comes into contact with the teammate of the offense player on ground who is trying to keep him off the ball, this contention forms a RUCK. At this juncture I would fancy to say the opposing player going for the ball is referred to as a Jackal

Ruck Scrumhalf connection

Players going through a rugby ruck drill, in this instance the jackal (player on the right) has not come into contact with offence player (on the right), thus is at liberty to play the ball | Scrumhalf Connection

Three things

-It is not a ruck if the jackal heads for the ball, before the contention ensues.

-A jackal is not allowed to put his/her hands into the rack once a contention has ensued (coming into contact with the opposing player). This is subject to how quick it happens of course.

-The jackal MUST be on his feet. Others will try to confuse you with ‘Support your weight’ stick with the basics

Ouch! Is that what they call a TACKLE?

This is basic, happens when the defending player stops the attacking player from getting past his defense by wrapping his arms around him anywhere below the shoulders and bringing him down.

Please, don’t be shocked when the tackler is carded, or his team is penalized for what is an ‘illegal tackle’.

tackle

Tackle techniques , in order from Left to Right: Front On (high-hold) tackle; Front On (Side) tackle & Front On (Crash) tackle | Zapper photography, World Rugby.

As a tackler you are not supposed to take the offense player past the horizontal.

-A tackler is supposed to wrap his hands around the ‘tacklee’, lol.

-A tackler should neither release the ‘tacklee’ mid-air in any manner, nor tackle a player who is off the ground

-A tackler is not to tackle a player without a ball. Its Rugby not American Football.

This is interesting, its called a SCRUM?

This one fascinates a lot of starters, they wonder why men are squatting and locking ‘imaginary horns’ like bulls do somewhere in Bhukungu Stadium. I won’t explain more than the picture below, as I maintain on just furnishing the coat not the pockets.

 

cropped-campus-year-492

Kitale and UoE Trojans engaged in a srum | Kuyo Photography

A scrum usually takes place to restart play after infringements and errors.

A scrum, in 7s-a-side, consist of 3 players from either side that engage (in, crouching, binding and setting). And a player on either side that acts as the scrum-half; the one who feeds the ball into the scrum. In 15-A-side, it entails an additional of 5 more players to make it 8 on either side and of course with a scrum half.

Be warned though, in the latter it would, at times, take plenty of time to play a scrum as stability and the wellness of the players is of great concern.

Lol, why are they lifting him up? LINE OUT

This is where players stand as if in two parallel queues, (leaving a gap in between referred to as a tunnel) and there is a contest to lift a player and catch a ball thrown in the air from touch, mid air.

lineout Flickr

Here is a nice snapshot of a line-out | Flickr

A LINEOUT is meant to bring the ball back into field of play, after it has gone out. The opposing team is always the beneficiary of this when the ball goes out, but there is an exception, when the ball has been kicked out of field of play (put to touch) owing to a kick to touch from a penalty kick.

Enough for today….

To that extent, for a starter in matters ‘fun-atical’ I bet one can attend and quite grasp much of a rugby game, say 50% averagely without being overly confused with the action. Of course there is so much with terminologies and other things left out, but I figured starting with the basics wouldn’t hurt much.

Plus, this post would be really long. Thus, internalize this, share widely before our next Test match against Hong Kong. Stay woke!

#TwendeGameTujengeGame

Elgon Cup, Twende Game

Tides have been changing lately in the Kenya rugby scene, there is an evident shift of attention from the shorter version to the rugby fifteens. If you were keen to watch or attend the Kenya Vs Germany test, there were many lessons to learn other than, ‘it is not over till it is’.

KvG

Kenya vs Uganda, Elgon Cup return leg poster, KRU.

The growing love for the sport and/or activities that evolve around it, was unmatched in the Kenyans-Germans clash. Besides having the accreditation of a full test, the prior social platforms marketing strategy (either planned or default) was efficient. Friends passed on the message to friends, who subsequently passed the same to their other friends… and they did show up in numbers. A thumbs up from this end to all those that had part in the overall turn out, directly or indirectly.

Why you shouldn’t miss the return leg

That is a done bill though, soon after we got into the next; The Elgon Cup, which as it stands, I am late to cover- besides the prolonged drought on the blog. Leg one of the same was done away with down at Kampala, Uganda. Kenya survived a lengthy 70+ minutes scare of a loss only to recover through the blessed boot of the Skipper Darwin Mukidza. Game ended at 23-18 , in favor of Kenya.

kawowo scrum

Scrum action in Leg 1 of the Elgon Cup photo: Kawowo Sports

The second leg is set to be hosted in Nairobi at the RFUEA Grounds, on the 24th of June, 2017. With the close-shaves in our immediate two matches as described above, we are sitting on a bayou, the return leg could only be a must win. We cannot risk a slump in the standings no matter how slim.

Its another chance for the ruby enthusiasts and those looking to have a thrill of the game, to show up and cheer on the team, besides other things… that in mind, I sort to level reasons why I should not miss the action on the 24th- by ‘I’ also include those who have a likewise feeling.

1.Support your own.

I love rugby, a fact, I play rugby, another fact. Any chance I get, and have the ability, to watch the national outlook of that which I fancy play, we cyah negotiate. A thing to three will have me troop to RFUEA.

ShujaaPride1469998248-odiero

Fanatics, Kenya vs Germany. Shujaa Pride

 

And also, if you cant support your own (Kenya 15s) at least then take along a friend or two and help them support their own. Before i forget, in the Kenya vs Germany test there was a low-key campaign of having the RFUEA filled at 6000, we can have another low key this time for 7000, its attainable.

2. Electric atmosphere

IMG_20170527_171757

6000 (or thereby) strong turn up in Kenya-German clash

If we can manage an outstanding turnout akin to two weekends ago, there will be little room for disappointments. The Kenyan rugby fans are known to be one of the most entertaining lot, very supportive of their own, fact check with World Rugby, this cant be fallacy. There is no greater opportunity to mingle and sing along with the world best fans at their own turf, as such.

In fact we should give the board room chaps a reason to start reconsidering the venue of this year’s Safari 7s… ama namna gani my fren’s?

NB: ‘Mexican wave’ is a continuous thing, so those ‘boring’ attendees at the main stand next time it starts at the Russian end, complete the motion please… such are the things we come to do- besides watching rugby, etc.

3. Mee(a)t, Greet & merry

The great thing about rugby events is how they cater for a majority of your accompanied needs, you get an all inclusive weekend at one venue.

Get yourself a fancy spot at the stands, spot out the beautiful Tusker ladies and buy your belly some ‘fermented barley extracts’. Watch the game, chant, scream, yell, cheer, jeer.

Half time, go nibble at goat ribs or chicken wings or fries at Quins bar area.

choma

A half time indulgence, others prefer at full time

Second half, just buy crisps and fried peanuts from the familiar face. Watch till the 80th, slide to the Quins Bar, again, make new friend (call out on the old ones) as you enjoy a cold one, spot a Ugandan indulge in a light (or deep) banter. Eye other niceties too and indulge thyself -with moderation. We still need the CEOs and Workers to build this nation and of course to throng the venue again in our next match.

There goes my three ‘reasons why’ you should attend the Elgon Cup, whats yours?

#TwendeGameTujengeGame

Philip Wokorach in Ten

Quick ten questions with Philip Wokorach- Uganda & Kabras Sugar

Ij90EqlL

Credits: Ragahouse

This week, The Bench got the opportunity to feature sensational Uganda Rugby player Philip Wokorach who also doubles up as Kabras Sugar half back/full back.

In both brief and, at the same time, lengthy questions we  interact and explore his rugby lifestyle, hits and misses in ten (plus an extra topping question of course). From his heroics at the Elgon cup, the Africa Sevens Championships at Kasarani last year to the fair travels in the HSBC Circuit… Meet the man!

TB: You have been a notable member for the Uganda 7s and 15s alike, when did you get acquitted into the sport?

PW: When I was still in Primary School,I joined the Tag Rugby Programme at my school and later Kyadondo Rugby Club

2016 was a great one for Uganda , both in 15s & 7s, winning the Africa cup 7s participating in Capetown 7s, particularly a great one for you starting from the performance in the Elgon Cup. What moment in that period (inclusive of those I haven’t mentioned) would you fancy as your most memorable?

The Africa Cup Sevens championship win in Kenya, we were not fancied to make any impact due to the new names and lack of experience but the boys put in good shift, played with passion to overcome whatever challenge we came across. And I liked it the most because the team just clicked even with the little time we had to train together, we enjoyed every game we played

You signed for Kenya’s Kabras Sugar switching camp from Heathens how would you compare the level of competitiveness in both the two nations?

Rugby in Kenya is more structured in all aspects including Administration unlike in Uganda So that enables teams to be better prepared in terms of sponsorship, player welfare this makes them more competitive in the league

According to reports, you have been at Kabras twice now, first in 2014 then last year. Why did you go back the first time?

I had to go back and finish my studies so I couldn’t remain with the club for long period

Kabras Sugar are having a rather a hard time lately in the league, unlike they did last season, is it the tough competition among teams? Or is it a change of tact at the club?

Clubs have become more competitive this season I should say, a couple of injuries and missing players may have affected us a little

You are athletic and stealthy, just like the game requires, what is your training regime like?

Always try to make sure I work on my weaknesses but work even harder on my strengths. Fitness and health is #1 that means hitting the gym more often, then practice my kicking after training sessions whenever I get the chance, the rest are worked upon during the team training sessions.

How often do you step to the gym in a week?

Well I used to step there at least 3 times a week when I was back in Uganda but now I probably go there at least once a day here at Kabras

When at the gym what key muscle groups do you majorly work on? And how? E.g Shoulder, Military Press, 6 sets of 15 reps each.

Quadriceps, hamstrings,calves, the back and the trapezius. Usually do the dead lift, squats and lunges but switch it up according the club program, I normally do 3 sets, and reps its till I burn out

In improving their overall physicality whilst keeping a good diet, how often do you take meals and snacks in a day? What are the quantities of say carbs, proteins & vitamins?

I have at least 3 meals a day, snacks every after a workout session which varies on some days.

I take in 96 grams of protein and a moderate amount of carbohydrates since am at my target weight!

Rugby as well as other sports all over has been rocked with doping claims. What is your take on use of performance enhancing drug?

We must all try to keep rugby clean, it’s unfair and unethical that some players use performance enhancing drugs which makes it an unfair playing field for other players especially in a sport like rugby that requires a lot of skill, effort and sacrifice by all players in order to be a the very top.

Lastly, assuming you are a S&C in each of the following teams, pick a player  from each that you deem to be the fittest: Uganda’s Heathens, Kenya’s Kabras Sugar, Uganda 15s & Kenya 15s

Vincent  Mose (heathens), Fidel  Oloo (Kabras). Philip wokorach (Uganda 15s) and Darwin mukidza (Kenya 15s)

 

Side note: In a parallel ‘page’, our edition of the monthly Kenya Cup review still continues, in case you all thought it was a one-off thing, Kenya Cup in February edition is a must read. But for now, I decided to break the monotony and do things the old fashioned way- interview features on the site. In case you haven’t been catching up on previews, reviews on match days and things Kenya 7s, like our Facebook page for the tit-bits.

Kenya cup in January

january-31

Issawrap! To the only month in a year that feels like 45 days clamped together. Things have been thick and thin one way or another in the 2017 opener,but let’s all be glad, chiefly, that the scotching January heat is subsiding. The weather man has obviously been wrong one way or another but the rains are probably earlier than they would have predicted… at least in sides where I come from.

At the rugby end, with the rains we could only be happier about the softer playing turf. With tender soils and pitches, it could translate to a few things, notably; almost zero grass burns, a number of dives at the try box and the obvious ‘Benjamin Marshall’ of the team gets to tesa the stiff guys with cheeky little quick feet and sidesteps! Get a chance and watch his tribute by the way- Benjamin Marshall, some pretty fancy skills to learn…

Moving on,

To the January action, it has been a source of mixed results here and there but good thing the month ended safely unlike the year ending of 2016, gratefulness to the Father up above. Also, my plea to be excused for I have not been up beat with the weekly postings. I can bet you I mentioned, somewhere last year, things will be done differently this year, and change is inevitable… Back to Kenya Cup, as we proceed to the unknowns of the new month I sort it better to share my two cents of what the action has been this past three weekends, the hits and misses of the month; who’s been hot and who’s not we get to know also the chaps that fattened up over the December festivities.

I believe up to that point, we are all at par, correct? Shall we…

Week Eight, where Quins danced to Deejay’s beat & Kabras held on

After the premature but deserved break of the season last year Week Eight (8) of the Kenya Cup was a jump-start to the second and final term of the cup. A test on the festivities indulgences; like I mentioned, a test on who accumulated much ‘relaxation’ than the other. We had seven fixtures as usual but then again I would not review all of them, keeping it strictly highlights.

quins-h-1

The one man lift though, photo credits Ragahouse

Apparently Sportpesa Quins must have had too much sauce on their goat steaks; they started off with a shock 15-10 loss to Menengai Cream Homeboyz.  A first in the season probably because they played a man less much of the second half in that game, but the visitors were a man down in the first half too courtesy of a sin bin, and how thou unlucky if you don’t capitalize on such an opportunity against a much bulkier Paul Murunga outfit… how unlucky. But they still cling at second place as per the last time I checked KenyaCup.co.ke, a relief at least.

Kabras were forced to throw let go the hook, line and sinker to nab the fish at Railways. In a cross-county clash against Mwamba they managed a narrow 37-32 win. Maybe because it did not rain at Railways, they savored a close five point win. In what was the debut of the visitors’ Ugandan international (also sensational) Philip Wokorach,  Kabras had to win, and the man proved worth the bargain. Honestly thinking though, you don’t come as the defending champs and struggle to get a hold of a match against seasoned table-toppers ( apologies, Mwamba). But when you see a line up with Lavin Asego, seasoned Humphrey Kayange and the obvious ‘Chochoo’ train, Injera, eerm.. you can bet Kabras were lucky.

mwamba-kabras

Airborne, photo credits OSBKE 

Also, did you see the pictures off that game? Hehehe, please do when you get the chance. My mentor was humbly subdued pale!

Week Nine (9), where four things happened…

machinee-1

The somber moments, Photo credits Shujaa Pride

Mean Machine clearly moved in to the refurbished corner of the relegation floor… cementing their spot at the bottom. Eschuma have been having torrid days we all agree, but never caved in as much, plus they had a fantastic opener against Kabras- if you recall. For a moment after week one I was for the thought the University is rising. They lost 70-0 to an unbeaten KCB side, that we cannot have much to talk about; it was the bankers they were facing after all…

 

Kabras rugby, who until this fateful day was unbeaten in seven weekends, got a sit down from their bitter rivals, Top Fry Nakuru led by chief orchestrator, Ominde Geoffery. Booting in four penalties in the second half to overturn a 14-3 lead by the hosts, Ominde ensured a 15-14 win for Nakuru. Over at Jamhuri, Homeboyz rugby was busy with the ‘beat down’ of Resolution Impala, handing the latter a resounding 41-13 defeat. Whatever the Deejays were up to during the Christmas break, they seemingly started the year with such authority. And who told Impala they could just let go like that, where was the dignity at least, aki hii rugby yetu!

ominde

The G.O.A.T, Photo credits KRU

Now that Blakblad –Strathmore incident guys, the latter is just having ‘withdrawal’ issues. When you heavily rely on a brood of players and they wholesomely leave you are in for a sticks and stones that can actually break your bones. Blad couldn’t face the Leos at a better time than this.

Week Ten (10); Quining the Ngong road derby since…

quining

Photo credits Mid-Ego

SportPesa Quins confirmed they could lose to any other team but not their immediate neighbors Impala… and the latter again seceding gladly for a second week running. You were keen to follow the first Ngong Road derby banter online, mahn! Impala had my ribs tingling… then we realized that’s all they could win off the derby action, online banter. In the rerun, they rather maintained a silent tone and seemed to focus to the issue at hand, the game, they participated in almost null banter besides the teasing by the Quins twitter guy.

Impala forfeited the online banter ‘game’ and equally lost at the pitch too, new tactics maybe? I would give them a breather, something might be cooking.

KCB completed the month extending their unbeaten run, in fancy action, against the defending champions Kabras, icing the victory with a better ‘Bazokizo’ challenge than Kenya Sevens.

Slightly on the international scene

kenya-wellington

The Wellington moment

South Africa’s Blitzbokke are finer than wine so far in the HSBC circuit, which is great for Pan-Africanism. The New Zealand rugby team are seemingly passing hints that the technique to the cup final went away with Sir Tietjens and his oldies club, kina Forbes. Finally Kenya Sevens are gallantly managing to win something, that Wellington 7s Challenge trophy, well done gents…  what about we work on our stagnating tenth position in the standings?

There goes the monthly review of January, I might have missed a few highlights of the month in case you have a hint, two or three feel free to leave it at the comments section. Also, check out our Facebook Page for our regular postings besides site contents .

Clicked, Read, now it’s time you share…

Team of the November Tests

November 2016 was a great month of rugby action more so at the international scenery. New Zealand stretched their list of accomplishments with the longest run wins to eighteen (18). While still relishing that they were humbly beat by Ireland, the latter recording their first ever win over the Southerners – and it was big, 40-29! And it was done in a domineering fashion.

tests

In subsequent weeks of the November,  Africa’s sole Tier One team- South Africa’s Boks, recorded their worst run in the test series for as lengthy as I can recall. In the midst of all that, they had an unfamiliar, arguably the upset of the tests, and 2016, to the Azurris; Italy. The Boks had never lost to Italy since 1995. Mind you, the weekend before they had also altered the history books, losing 37-21 to England for a first time in 10 years.

For the Aussies, it was same old. Win some lose. They probably should have tried winning against the ‘Big boys’ too; England, New Zealand & the Irish.

The Bench’s Team of November Tests

We took the liberty of sampling some of the best performance and orchestrators of November at the tests, drafting our ‘Team of the Tests’. With the heavy presence of New Zealand, Australia and Ireland, have a read at who made the cut:

15 Ben Smith ( New Zealand)

A very fantastic asset he has been for the ‘Blacks. He has been lethal at attacking from his depth and his sights on pockets at the opponents sets his apart from the once favored Israel Folau of Australia. The latter was good at aerial balls… agreed. Also contesting on this one was Irish Rob Kearney.

14 Dane Haylett-Petty ( Australia)

Superb attack and defense from the Aussie, he was quite a player to look at in all games he featured. Had great line breaks majority of the time and salvaged much of the meters for Australia. Watching the Aussies games on my PC, I couldn’t help but notice the commentator mentioning Haylette-Petty in quite a number of rucks and tackles and line breaks made for Australia. New Zealand’s Israel Dagg was a favorite for this spot, but well..

13 Jonathan Joseph (England)

I was in a fix for selecting the right man for this position, England’s Joseph or Aussie’s Kuridrani. Both had exemplary performance for their respective teams, great ball carriers and all. The decider was the fixture pitting the two teams and Jonathan Joseph was the winner with his pivotal role for the English, his brainy kick behind the Aussie defense to set up Marland Yarde for a try was superb.  Hot on the heels for this one is Tevita Kuridrani

12 Wesley Fofana (France)

The World Cup 2012 finalist might be on a receiving end but they sure had a skillful player at inside centre. Fofana had an advantage over other nominees for the slot with his fancy footwork and that to carries made and line breaks, certainly a player worth the mention. His well coordination with Vakatawa and at defense especially against New Zealand forced the latter to change tact and go for more kicks; Barret admitted to it at the end of the game.

11 Simon Zebo ( Ireland)

The best option for this position, he had excellent line breaks for his team and was essential in giving his side and edge in ground gained. He is also a committed one at tackles and highly competitive at aerial balls.

10 Beauden Barret (New Zealand)

With the exit of Carter to Europe, we couldn’t think All Blacks would find an excellent playmaker to fit his role. With Cruden’s injury having him sidelined for days on end prior to his recovery , Barret stepped up to the opportunity, made super breaks for a number 10-well, with his pace… was great with the boot, and was a great link between the Forwards and Backs. Completely benching Cruden.

England’s George Ford came close too.

9 Conor Murray (Ireland)

After the horse-like work for the Irish in their game against New Zealand, you could hardly mention this position without his name popping up. Would have loved to see a match up against Aaron Smith in this match…

Were it not for his team’s poor performance, South Africa’s Francois ‘Faf’ de Klerk would also have been a contender. France sensational rising star Serani, is equally as competitive at the same position. Coming off the bench against All Blacks, gifting them quite some havoc and resulting to a beautiful try, off his reverse pass.

irish

-Now guys I have no different opinion from the forwards list that was posted on Planet rugby in their Team of November Tests, so without further ado here is your best of the eight for the month of November, (direct excerpt from Planet Rugby)-

8 Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)

Heaslip was outstanding in November, with few other loose forwards matching his work-rate, leading from the front in every game. Now a veteran in Ireland’s back row, he has enjoyed a real resurgence over the last few weeks. Billy Vunipola continues to grow in stature under Eddie Jones’ coaching while Facundo Isa is slowly but surely becoming one of the best number eighths in the world.

7 David Pocock (Australia)

Pocock will take a hiatus from rugby in 2017 and there is little doubt Australia will miss his dearly. During November, the versatile loose forward, a tackling machine, made an incredible 63 tackles in five Tests, averaging almost 13 a game. Recalled out of the wilderness by Eddie Jones due to injuries, Tom Wood made the most of his second chance with some strong performances for England. Josh van der Flier and Justin Tipuric also stood out.

6 CJ Stander (Ireland)

Possibly Ireland’s standout player of 2016, Stander can now be considered one of the best flankers in the world. His work-rate is impressive and Stander has gone from a newcomer in Ireland’s back row to becoming a key leadership figure. Chris Robshaw enjoyed an excellent run of matches, which is remarkable a year on from when some thought he would never play for his country again, and he played a key role in helping England establish their dominance up front.

5 Courtney Lawes (England)

With second-row injuries dominating England’s build-up ahead of the series, Lawes needed to hit the ground running with this chance, which he certainly did. While Jonny Gray got through a mountain of work for Scotland and George Kruis was a presence for England, we go for his team-mate as our number five after a physical month that he should be proud of.

4 Devin Toner (Ireland)

To get in ahead of Brodie Retallick takes some doing but Toner deserves his spot. With Paul O’Connell retiring, Ireland needed a figurehead at lock and the Leinsterman provided it in November with some towering displays in green, especially in the wins over New Zealand and Australia. Alun Wyn Jones was outstanding against Argentina too.

3 Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)

What a meteoric rise it has been for Furlong this year. He’s taken over from Mike Ross and the Irish have never looked back. So powerful in the contact area as we saw against the All Blacks and the rest this November, the tighthead gets the nod ahead of Dan Cole and Sekope Kepu who were both excellent for England and Australia respectively last month.

2 Dane Coles (New Zealand)

Continues to set the bar that other hookers struggle to reach. His speed and skills are like a centre and he followed up impressive Super Rugby, June and Rugby Championship showings to edge Ireland’s Rory Best as our hooker.

1 Mako Vunipola (England)

Really has moved up another gear as a player in the past year or so as he pushes hard alongside Jack McGrath for the starting British and Irish Lions jersey in New Zealand. Got through a ton of work in November with his ball skills and scrummaging also solid for England who, like loosehead Vunipola, has enjoyed an outstanding 12 months of international rugby.

Week 6: Five weekends later

It’s the sixth week into the Kenya Cup, I stifle at the thought that somehow the season seems to be on a slow gear. At the same length, when I recall that’s its now kedo five weeks since I last posted on the blog, my nerves sort of cringe inside. You would assume my mojo, or rather, the knack I had for spewing my thoughts on the action at the turf, is on a slow death.

I thought so too, until I decided to weigh in the realities of life, brethren, the things we do for bread out there…

back

The site is back, assuming I took a sabbatical leave from the blogosphere.

The Stats so far

At five weekends, KCB slipped off of the top of things to second, changing roles with one from the Ngong Road pair.  Sportpesa Quins went top spot after a rampaging victory over Impala, the latter stuck at third. The defending champs are at the same gas pedal level they were last season, a time like this. I didn’t go opening files but I know, a time like this last season, Kabras were ‘Mid-Tablers’; they are near the mid now just a position better. But a job well done to holding down KCB last weekend to a 15-15 draw, the match must have been an edge puller. Interesting to note that, at the same stage last year-Match day 5- KCB walloped Kabras 40-15.

It has been a stained start for Strathmore Leos this season, hugely cultivated by the exit of some key players earlier in the year. They lie a dreaded, distant 13th-second from the bottom, being a campus outfit I would relatively understand the liabilities that come with transition from an outgoing lineup to a new one. Things generally don’t mix and match as quickly as you would wish.

My Kulabu lie seventh, a few points better than their favorite eighth, Top Fry Nakuru hold sixth in what is termed as to be their worst season ever so far, with sections attributing their performance to the exit of Coach  Habimana. The Red Lions, Nondies, are eighth and level with their bitter rival, Blakblad who are at ninth, Western Bulls tenth.

Impala-Quins banter match up

It is just five weekends so far, the positions are not permanent but bound for changes. Before we proceed to week 6, revisiting action at week 5 is paramount and first off the list is the ‘Notorious’ Ngong Road Derby.

 

shujaapride1475859000-2

Quins-Impala action

The pre-game Banter was all over ahead of this match, Impala threw a spade, Quins would rally with a sledge hammer; Quins would try a stone, Impala would respond with a rock. The social media platforms were waaay hype for a whole week. I think Impala had the best shot at this ‘tag-of-war’ banter, I mean a Kulabu guy hardly supports Quins, let me be!

Come game day the results were a pale shadow of a side that just a few weeks back had thwarted KCB to lift the Floodies cup. 28-10 was the full time score, I expected anything closer than that score line. But trying to relate the results to what I see in football, sigh, Arsenal unknowingly looses to Man U even when they are in form. Derbies though, mkiolewa mnaoleka tu

quinsimp

 

At the end of it all, Impala won the pre-game banter, Quins won the game itself. Draw? No?! Okay.

On to Week Six 

Match Day six is nigh, and teams are hell bent to head into the season’s holiday break on a high. Also, at the Bench, I am hell bent to give my two cents on Week six clashes on who will reign this coming weekend.

Mwamba vs Top Fry Nakuru

After last weekend’s costume fixture against Mean Machine, we can only wait to see what Mwamba RC are plotting for this weekend. Maybe a barbecue side event, because mafuta ya Top Fry… but instead its a farming experience!

mwamba-vs-naks

Last these two met, at Match Day 14 2015/16 season, Nakuru, the host then, had a 34-6 win over Mwamba. But with the much closeness they share on the standings now, the host will be fighting to go up while Nakuru will have to win to regroup its huge fan base who are throwing questions about the team this season. Also, interesting to watch would be the seasoned winger Collins Injera, if he will be drafted, playing at fly-half position.

This is the type of clash I would not favor a city club, no love lost though for Kulabu, but Nakuru would seem to walk away with a win here (+5)

Nondescripts vs Resolution Impala Saracens

It has always been a one-way traffic in this fixture, always in favor of Impala. Last encounter, Match Day 18, Impala 63-8 Nondies. And week 6 would have seen such liely action…

nondiesimpa

But then news rolled in that the Red Lions have lost a seasoned Center, Ogeto Gacheo… A stalwart of his time, sustained a spinal injury at match Day 5 and succumbed hours later after a successful operation.

gacheo

It is with a heavy heart that I would wish to pass my condolences to the family of the late Gacheo, the closest of friends and the distant ones, his club Nondescripts RFC and his ardent fans. May he find great solace in the worlds beyond.

Subsequent to that, the next two fixtures for the Nondies game week 6 & 7 have been postponed in favor of Gacheo’s befitting send-off. There will be however a  Touch tourney at  Jamhuri Grounds on the 9th of December, in honor of the late thereafter a fundraiser at Red Lion’s Club. Kindly do find your way and trot down to the two venues for Gacheo.

Rest In Peace Gacheo!

 

Mean Machine vs Kabras Sugar

After surviving a season’s shocker in Week 1, Kabras will be visitors to Mean Machine looking to affirm the narrow 14-13 win at Kakamega Show Grounds. The hosts, Machine, are out to tell Kabrasians it wasn’t by luck but sheer will.

machinee

Will the Eschuma pull a close one? Lying 12th with a single point coupled by last week’s lose to Mwamba, it will be a toll order. They might have a chance though, should they peg their inspiration from the opening round performance against Kabras.

A draw against KCB must have derailed the defending champs on their campaign, and they should not risk a loss this weekend lest they fall far off the leading log. A win is a win, right? But not the sort recorded against Machine in Round one. Being defending champs something was amiss in that match.

…Kabras wins +7

In other clashes…

These other clashes of the weekend are pretty much a one-sided affair on paper, it wouldn’t do much to have a break down on the three remaining clashes;

Western Bulls vs KCB (KCB Win +20)
Blakblad vs Sportpesa Harlequins (Quins way +12)
Strathmore Leos vs Menengai Cream Homeboyz (HBR Win +8)

I would have also mentioned about the Kenya 7s and the recent Dubai debacle but let them have their way, its a new order at the helm of things in the team, at least some breathing space as we ‘season our chocking ropes’ when they start giving less of the bargain. For now we hope Capetown should be better!

#TwendeGameTujengeGame

 

 

 

Kenya Cup returns

The much anticipated kick off of the Kenya Cup is finally nigh, the gruesome three-four weekends of watching the now cliché dominance of the All blacks outfit are about to get a kick for life. Considering that this weekend we have nearly zero rugby to watch/attend, the thought of the 2016-2017 season kick off should be a sigh of relief, from the agony of having to plot a whole weekend with a clique of football addicts. Better still to have a hint of a few pointers for the up coming season.

kc-returns

These are the trying times of a sports enthusiast, you are watching your Kenya Cup team thwart a victory out of another but on the extreme end your bet on Sportpesa  is heading to the gutters, because Manchester…  you had better placed your money on the Kenya cup fixture!

Moving on with the theme though, the 2015-2016 season was an interesting one with both the colorful, grey and pitch black experiences .  We witnessed fantastic rugby action with the double header weekends, we had surprising results (when Blad beat Nondies & Kulabu ‘rained’ supreme and so much more). Not to forget a resurgent whiff of the team from Ngong road and the swift return of the Cup to Western Kenya, a moment that was worth the attendance.

Heading into 2016-2017, the script can only improve, with the standards getting better with every passing weekend, increased corporate involvement and explosive talent on the loose, the stakes are higher than we think. A quick review of the just ended National  7s circuit, had me jot down a few pointers worth to look up to as November 5 draws near… have a look:

Menengai uprising

Everything in existence has its peak performance period, what I would refer as ‘The Zone’. Stepping stones gently and willingly fall in place for you and not just by sheer luck, but hard work and resilience. Of course investment has to do its bit too.

hbr-saf

Former PM, Raila Odinga presents Menengai Cream Homeboyz with the 2016 Dala 7s winners cup

That was the footing with Homeboyz rugby at the Sevens circuit, scooping a record four cup titles of the available six and managing all cup final appearances. Opportunity had finally met hard work. With the entourage of seasoned players from Strathmore the Deejays became a lethal force, they ticked the right check boxes. Kabras Sugar had the same result last season and finally getting the priceless silverware back to Western Kenya. Mind you, it was just on their second attempt at the cup final, falling to KCB in the first attempt.

After much galore at the shorter version, Homeboyz should reciprocate the same performance in the longer stint. Assuming we discredit their Floodies 2016 performance and start on a clean slate, they should be a force to reckon with in upcoming weekends

Kabras title defence

Two seasons in the Kenya Cup and they are a force of reckon, spurring interests from all quarters, you’d think they have been there for eons.

kb-sugar

Defending Kabras Rugby line up a photo with the 2015/2016 Kenya Cup trophy

It would be unwise not to mention that besides Impala, they are the other team that beat Homeboyz in the sevens circuit, doing in a domineering fashion at the Christie Sevens. That done away with though, the team from the sugar belt did some pretty interesting signings… just look at the previous season’s team and add to that Dan Sikuta and Philip Wokorach, depth I tell you!

Wait we haven’t even talked about Brian Tanga and Aluda Beda, that sensational duo.

Resolution Impala repechage

impala

Resolution Impala Saracens line up a scrum against KCB in last season’s encounter.

Not a repechage as such, but a second attempt at the Kenya Cup is what I mean;  just basking in some minute wittiness of using technical terms.

Not many vetted Impala to make it to the cup final at the start of last season, up to mid way into the season. They hard let out the spikes and cut across any team, the incorporation of the global Saracens and Resolution Health worked, just look at the club’s name, Resolution Impala Saracens. There is harmony and all entities are well represented- Imagine if they got into another deal with a bank for instance, think of the names… Equity Resolution Impala Saracens, lol.

But that’s just depth and plenty of hard work by the players and management as a whole, taking a case study of Kabras and their road to the cup final a second time and winning it. I wouldn’t be shocked if we have a repeat final of the two. They already showed the grit at the Floodies 2016, taking the onus off, up to then the defending champs, KCB.  We should be prepped for a resolute season from this Ngong Road outfit.

Championship league

div-2

This is a tier just as equally competitiveness as the Kenya Cup. Drawing top two finishers from all Nationwide regions and last season’s Kenya Cup drops, the Championship will be an intense one. Many a times we selfishly keep our focus on the Kenya Cup, forgetting the minor leagues we have- trust me that’s where superb action is. Only thing that is hardly present is your presence, yes, you the enthusiast!

Ask any player that has played in a competitive Nationwide set up; Rift Valley and Western regions, they know how competitive it is. But that aside, the key note is to have you diversify your span of attending rugby games. We always want more action, no we have it. In your weekend schedules don’t forget to attend a game or two of the Championship league. Better yet , you can pick a favorite there too, all the way to the Nationwide league.

Lastly, I would fancy a corporate involvement in the league, it would be so sad to launch a noble idea and see teams fail to honor fixtures.

The season long derbies

If at all you never manage to watch and/or attend weekend fixtures, then be smart and pick enticing duels to attend. The derbies season is back; Ngong Road derby, Rai Cup derby, University derby, Minnows derby, liveliest-and-loudest fanatics derby…

impala-quins

Ngong Road derby

 

So many derbies are back make sure you don’t miss.

And just as I sign off champs you can opt to up your wrist game and grab a branded shambala off #TheBenchKE  for only KSh. 350 ($3.2), get in touch at 0738221661.

shambala

The Bench KE branded shambala

Tag a friend, who should tag another friend who should also tag another friend.  All for the thrill of the game

#TwendeGameTujengeGame