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…



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.


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.


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.




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

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 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.



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!


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’.


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.


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


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.


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?


Philip Wokorach in Ten

Quick ten questions with Philip Wokorach- Uganda & Kabras Sugar


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.

To use or not: Supplements

A few years back when I joined rugby, the sport was pure as a new born baby with un-relative little following around the world compared to the masses who keep up with the happenings of the sort today.



The science of the sport back then was simple, it entailed a regime of training… training… and training hard, coupled with a lot of discipline and commitment. Much of the principles have been the same overtime but with a little of twists. With the increased competition in the sport, we have now settled to see some fantastic improved version of athletes that are agile, stealthier, stronger, more skilled, bulky… The upgrades list could go on and on.

The case of suppliments.

Key among these improvements has been the professionalism of the sport across the globe and the introduction of various tools and utilities to the players and coaches’ disposal. One of the additives that have so much been the center of discussions with regards with all this is the use of supplements among the rugby athletes.

Players are becoming stronger and bulkier by the day and others are on the ladder to catch up with the bar set in this contact sport. Most players have subscribed to the gym and following up good strength & conditioning program to align with the needs of the sport.


Is it gym work or supps or a case of both

But the debate of the role of supplements in enhancing the performance and physique of athletes has been widely discussed all over. Especially now that we are heading to the Olympics, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is cracking the whip now more than ever, you all read the fate of Tennis Star, Maria Sharapova?

So I went over the net to delve on the grey and bright areas of the utilization of the products… I must say, I found plenty of grey than white but not to disclaim supplements. I bet society all over just has a bias for all things natural.

After an hour or so over the net reading through & various articles from the country down south, New Zealand, I gathered a few points on what might matter about the use and disuse of supplements.

So what is a supplement


According to the definitions of the term ‘Supplement’, the great internet- yes I Google-d it, describes it as something that completes/enhances/reinforces something else when added to it. In nutrition, supplements are intended to provide nutrients that may otherwise not be consumed in sufficient quantities- Wikipedia, and can be in form of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs or a combination of all that.

To use or not to use.

Over the sites I went through, I noticed the tendency to encourage the consumption of whole meals and the application of healthy dietary/nutrition habits as opposed to the use of supplements. In fact most of them were discouraging their use, albeit not directly.

With the errant use of the commodity over time, there has been need to regulate and control the use of the same, the world over. Players have been nabbed by the law and faced various punishments for consuming what they thought was a supplement. Only they didn’t know it contained banned substances.

A case is recorded of one amateur player in Australia that ordered supplements online and paid for them, only for his shipment to be confiscated at the port by the Immigration Department since it contained banned substances. He was warned of ever repeating the habit again but the Australian Rugby Union would not relent in dispensing punishment, the player was banned for 24months (2years)… Check this: He paid, he didn’t use them and he now has to sit in the stands for 2 years!


In Ireland, for example, young players are encouraged to stick to a healthier natural lifestyle for optimum performance through good eating and drinking (hydration) habits. You might want to check out the program later on, do click for much more detailed information.

In another example, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) & the NZR Players Association released a series of resources on the use of nutritional supplements. The resources emphasized on eating fresh, whole foods as part of a stable diet as well as outlining the risks of using nutritional supplements by young players. And if you click on and read on you will realize that in the NZ they insist on food first before incorporating supplements.

Perceived physique.

In most cases here at home, many players take the supplements to attain the perceived physique they ‘Think’ is needed to play rugby. And many have gone the full length to take the supps without proper consultation and considerations. Lucky our country’s systems have not enabled us to asses & evaluate our local teams and institutions on the use and abuse of the products. One day if an international body decides to set camp and do autonomous research I wouldn’t be shocked with what they find out.

Aside with the debate though I gathered a few reasonable points in my ‘assignment’ regarding the matter that should be of benefit to all the players, coaches, gym instructors and many more out there.

1.Ensure your supplement contains no banned substance, always ensure it has been batch-tested for contamination.

Keep rugby clean

All responsibility falls to the players, despite the pressure from your coach, trainer or gym instructor to use certain supplements. You, as a player, will be liable if found to have banned substance.

You can check a number of tested supplements on

2.If taking supplements as a team ensure there is one member responsible for managing the team’s supplement program.

But again as a player, always do a background check on what you are given, of course there is the tendency to assume everyone is playing their role, but you can never be too sure. Perhaps the person in charge someday can wake up on the wrong side and misread labels and you end up consuming something wrong. Always remember point number 1

3. Seek advice from professional(s) sport nutritionist.

Majority of us refer to the internet for resources on rugby training regimes and what not. Pay attention to your diet, a qualified nutritionist can help customize your meal plans and shopping list. Hardly can you find two players with the same exact needs and objectives, so before you spend your money on some of the whey protein you saw your friend take know your needs.

Those things are damn expensive you better not get it wrong!

4. Never take or use someone else’s supplement.

A friend can give a spoonful or two of his/her scoop pre and post work out at the gym but unless you two purchased it together it’s not worth the risk. Kindly refer to point number 1 to be 100% sure.

5. Always know the risks and benefits.

Of course a majority of the benefits are outlined very well at the package for you to see and read it’s the risk they hardly talk and outline for you.

Some supplements can be hazardous to your health since they increase the heart rate and heat stress. They consequently increase blood pressure whilst others cause damage to the kidneys. This is aside with some of them containing banned substances.

My idea on the use of the supplements is that, unless you are under a fully professional and/or semi-professional set up of high performance, where they are batch-tested and their use monitored by qualified sports nutritionist. Stick to healthy foods and healthy habits.

The scenario gets complicated when you are solo, always seek professional help and be committed to sticking to the program accorded to you by the person you consulted, if at all he has proved to be of benefit.

But all in all, the debate whether to use or not will proceed in society always, know your needs, acquit yourself with necessary info and as much as you can before you delve into a decision.


Rugby tip: 5 essentials you should pack

We are fast approaching the touring season, with many tournaments on the offing and the thrill of attending a number of them there is a necessity to have the basics with you.


Its the tour season!!

A number of times I have fallen victim to a contemptible habit of packing up inappropriate and completely useless stuff in my bag for a weekend trip to a game. And to pay for my ignorance I have always missed out, on very countable occasion ending up chocking life out of my wallet to settle few amenities.

I am certainly not the only one on the flip side of travels and backpack-ing. A number of times we check into that frigid, aloof, concrete lodging/hotel/motel room wanting to free our chocked legs off the burden of the shoe only to realize we don’t have the bata sandaks. You check your backpack or suit case- for those that travel heavy, in place of the cute flip flops you were waiting to parade with under the hot stuffy weather at Driftwood 7s, you squeezed in your cute new pair of worker boots… that’s when you realize how silly one is and useless a trendy pair of kicks can be.

To ease up the matter and save you minutes of disappointments, here is a list of some essentials you’ll need for the Rugby 7s cross-county tour;

1.Maasai Shoal/ Shuka

This blanket or Shuka, as commonly referred to, is quite an important item in your back pack. There was a time you would see that red, stripped black piece of clothing and the image of Maasai Mara or the Big five would pop up in your head.


Those days are gone, they are now varying in various colours from the much familiar red to purple and their uses spanned across the plains to be more than a traditional Maasai wear.

Aside with the colour, a Shuka is quite efficient in cold times, especially in the evening when the chilly winds decide to sweep through the events arena (Masaku is such an example), very comfy if you happen to be with your partner under its embrace.

2. A good pair of crocs, sandaks(ls) or flip-flops


Essential to the players especially, for the much needed relaxation of the phalanges down below.

After a lengthy day spent in the taut pair of studded boots it is usually a moment worth longing for to strip off the boots and stinking socks and let the feet loose in sandals or any other form of open foot wear. NEVER forget packing those.

We all know how naughty players can be, hehe, deprieving lodgings, hotels and motels their supply of flip-flops.

Depending on your level of movement and activity over the two days as a fanatic you can decide to or not to pack this commodity- Also, where you spend your night, some hotels luck provisions of flip-flops.

3. Pack your warm Hoodie

They come in varying designs and sizes, to suit your needs when need arises. Be sure a need will arise in the rugby stands.


Custom designed hoodies by Resolution Impala Saracens

The chilly weather will require an additive to the shoal you brought along. You might also want to grab something relevant with the theme of the weekend, well, there are many custom designed hoodies by various rugby clubs and brands

4. Don’t forget that small towel

You can never trust the ones found in the economy class rooms some of us book in a new town.


Towels are quite essential and personal linens that come into direct contact to the skin. Think of it as an undergarment, you don’t share those, do you? I don’t see the need to cross over a couple of kilometers to a town and share a towel only to head back home with an itchy skin or anything else nasty…

By no means am I implying that hotels have the worst of towel hygiene, you just wouldn’t want to take chances.

5. Anything that can snap and take pictures

Of course I would have insisted on a decent camera but those things are damn expensive nowadays, besides we also have phones with almost equal capabilities nowadays. Those memorable fun moments need to be put down on record so you can laugh and to tears when you are old and reminiscing your younger times.

There goes the essential five items that shouldn’t miss a slot as you pack for the rugby tour.


POLITE REMINDER: This is the final list of essentials but is subject to changes according to your preferences 🙂