Monday, February 27, 2017

Malindi High wins 2017 district Championship

I am very happy to be coaching Malindi High again.  We had a great tournament again this year, we played a round robin and won all of our games in the tournament.  We only conceded 6 points in 5 games which by any measure is always impressive, and while the team had huge depth issues at the start of the tournament, we managed to get good game time to a good 15 players who had never contested an official match before the tournament.

I particularly like this group.  They have a drive and desire to learn which I haven’t seen from previous teams.  They are probably the fittest any Malindi team has ever been at this point.  I hope they can continue to build on that. Usually, we crash and burn in the County tournament and we use that experience as a wake up call to get the boys fit for the 7s tournaments, and sometimes they respond sometimes they don’t. 

As mentioned before, we were particularly thin in experience this year.  As you may have heard, Malindi was one of the schools that suffered from school burning incidents last year, there appeared to be some kind of a trend throughout boarding schools in Kenya.  In Malindi they burnt the library.  To my knowledge, no rugby players were involved, but as a result of the subsequent school closure, many students, especially form 3s  (who would have been form 4s this year) were sent to other schools.  The result is that we only have 4 form fours in our squad this year and many of the players that had experience were not back and are going to schools that don’t have rugby.  An additional challenge is that the indiscipline at the school has given ammunition to the “rugby haters” amongst the teachers at the school, thus restricting our ability to have the necessary amount of time with the team.  There have also been a plethora of inspirational talks, meetings etc etc that cut into time previously allotted to games.

We have taken the lemons and made lemonade. We used the discipline issue to tighten the discipline within the team.  I came down hard on senior players involved in minor incidents or who were not coming for training.  One player, a potential star was cut completely from the team for missing practice without telling anyone.  We made a point of cutting out prima donnas and we have pushed extremely hard on the physical preparation and as a result we are probably better prepared than ever before and we probably set foundations for success in years to come.  I really want the rugby players to be leaders in the school, both academically and morally.  In the past, I had teachers laud the team and say that the players stopped indiscipline, ideally I would like that to continue!

Our team is Form 2 heavy and thus quite small.  So we kept it simple.  We got fit, and ensured that we protect the ball as a priority.  Also, as is the hallmark of our teams, we tackle like beasts!  It means we are quite one dimensional, but I’ll take it, and the results were there, although the score lines aren’t as good as I’d hoped.

Malind 6 – Barani 3
Barani played well, were the only opposition with any shape at all and posed a threat but the boys played there game and pulled it off.  We missed a number of kicks though which is a problem we may have solved. Coached well by Koki, a Malindi RFC fullback who schooled at Muyeye.

Malindi 27 – Gede 3
The guys got all excited as predicted and started running sideways to score tries.  2nd half saw many under experienced players get a chance on the pitch.

Malindi 6 – Mida 0
I played essentially a second team to try people out, the team was a bit shaken, but they got it in the end.  Scoreline should have been much higher but lack of finishing, and the boys took a bruising because they took to Mida’s unpolished game and tried to challenge them at it.

Malindi 20 – Langobaya 0
Played the first team in the first half and then subbed as much as possible.  By now we had a number of key injuries to key players from all the banging against unskilled teams, so 2nd string inventions at fullback, and throughout the backs and in the back row.  Paid off in experience for young guys.  Watch out next year!

Malindi 6 – Muyeye 0
We were bracing for a bruising in this one and we got it.  Muyeye is always a tough team and they were coached by one of the Malindi RFC guys Reagan who schooled there.  I played as much of a first team as I could given injuries to Fly half Chikoto and Fullback Jimmy J.  We basically smashed the ball down their throats and then they figured out that we were taking the ball on while standing still and they started catching us behind the gain line.  Lots to work on!

I’m looking forward to these counties, not quite sure what will happen, but I think we will be better prepared than we have been.  Sadly, we only have one week before the county tournament and it is the mid-term holiday week.  If the players turn up for training, we may have a chance, if not, likely we won’t win a game in the tournament, there is still a lot to work on.  Waweru, the coach of the team is extremely committed and looks hopeful that we may go far, so I still have hope.  Chibudu has been helping out putting in systems on defence and I hope that will continue as we prepare for the next tournament.  I would like the guys to improve a bit on their rush defence and jackaling as is the fashion these days. 

Odima, the Galana Coach refereed one of our games and later told me that if we played like that, our team would be smashed by his and Garashi.  He somehow has managed to send two teams from the Magarini district tournament, normally only one team is allowed per district.

I would like for the Union to arrange for warm up tournaments before.  There is zero investment in Under 18 rugby in the coast.  There are so many schools without teams, it would be so easy just to give each high school 5 balls and have someone visit them once a week for a month or something, and do the same in primary schools. Then you would have a lot of rugby players and later on rugby fans!  My two shillings!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Big Thanks to George Barbour and the Forty Thieves Bar!

Just a quick note to give a very big thank you to George Barbour and all the people down at Forty Thieves Diani and the South Coast Pirates.  You did a marvellous job as usual hosting a great tournament, very professionally done and a credit to the Club and George (and I imagine David Nolan had a big part to play too!) for hosting such a wonderful international event to showcase on of the most beautiful spots on the Kenyan Coast as well as Kenyan Coast Rugby.

Well done lads!

The boys had a great time, I think they were knocked out at the Cup Quarters which is better than the last time we entered, and congrats to South Coast for winning the whole Cup!

Details here:

An even bigger thank you as I understand that you sponsored Malindi RFC's entry into the tournament.  This was much appreciated by all and Simba, Ukunda and the rest of the boys were gushing about what great support you provided.  I'm pretty sure everyone at the Club remembers how much you've supported us and I hope to god that one day we'll be able to return the favour to you all!

Cheers Lads!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Malindi RFC cruise to Coast Province Division Semis

Well, it's a nice tittle for a post, but the way we got there was courtesy of a second walk-over win against Pwani University.  Really? You ask, a walk over win in the playoffs? Yes. Even better, Pwani University is a 45 minute drive from Malindi's ground and one better still, the first walkover was on Pwani's own ground.  Yes, we showed up and they only mustered 5 players so we played 10 aside!

The icing on the cake? Well, Malindi enters this semi-final having only played one game in the whole tournament, and the only game we played we won!  It was against South Coast pirates our sister club, who by the way won all of their other games.  So you wonder, how many walkovers are there? Well, I haven't counted the score sheets but a lot.  And it is a real problem.  Enough to say just throw the league out the window.  Really there are only 4 teams that honour any games, South Coast, TUM, Spartans (which essentially is the only club that the union sponsors) and Malindi RFC, which to be fare didn't make it to all of their away games this year.

What's to be done?  Well, I'd propose that the union could go back to what worked.  The travel subsidies!  Why, just have some rugby played is all.  I reckon that if the union put in KES5000 per game (that's like 60 bucks) that is not involving two teams in the same town/city and said two walkovers means your out of the league for a year, they would have no walk overs.

What do you say Tank?

It would mean a lot more guys playing a lot more rugby and in a 7 team format (remove Voi and Kilifi sultans who I don't believe honoured a match) and the whole thing would cost you a whopping 95 thousand shillings.  Guys, seriously, probably equivalent to the five balls you gave all the teams and much more rugby.  What is the priority?

The other thing and I've seen it with Malindi, is after 3 walkovers/postponments in a row, it's hard to get guys to come to the next game and even harder to get them to the pitch to train.  Seriously, the way things are going now is brining everyone down.

The other thing I would do is move the games up to start in late September.  The Uni teams all have to balk on their games starting in Mid november which as it stands now is the heart of the season.  Also, if you put in the two walkovers and you're out rule, and voiced it very clearly at the beginning of the season, people would take it seriously (maybe?).

And now I'm throwing something out there... how about getting your big ticket sponsors to chip in for the small fish clubs? I keep hearing that we should get our own sponsorship, but especially now on the coast, that isn't going to happen anytime soon. Want to grow your game outside of Nairobi?  Want kids to grow up loving rugby so that they'll watch rugby games whose adverts will pay for your world cup team?  Better get cracking guys!

Just saying...

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Malindi RFC 32 - Salt City (Gongoni) 10

The Malindi RFC starting 15 (or a bit more!)
Made it back for a friendly against Gongoni last week.   Had a great week training with the boys, we worked a bit on fitness and a bit on getting the ball out wide to score in the corner. Had some issues with some of the younger guys loosing the ball in contact despite Some good forward play. They get a bit excited when they go in and often forget to protect the ball, wanting to get more yards or hit the tackler particularly hard.  Someone somewhere must have taught poor old Nyanje to make contact by hitting the tackler with the ball... which obviously results in a lot of turnover ball.  Nyanje, protect the ball buddy! :)

Anyway, it was a good result for the club who had just come off of an important league win against South Coast Pirates which I believe sees us top of the table.  Unfortunatlye once again, the nationwide league has more walkovers than games played, but hopefully with new management at the KRU, they might be able to give a good think about how to get around this.  I think removing teams that are not travelling, removing a team like Voi which is too hard to reach, and making sure more effort is put into scheduling would be good starts.  Apparently a lot of the University based teams have games scheduled during exams... this is disappointing.

A word about Salt City RFC.  Great club, formed by the commitment of Malindi High and Galana Secondary School boys living around gongoni.  Particularly Colins, a young lad who has put a lot of effort into getting young kids to play.  The club left him a ball to help with training.  Hopefully we can use them as a feeder club, but it would be good if the subsidies could come back, and we could get them into the league on their own.  We could actually have 3 or 4 clubs in the malindi area with a team in Watamu, Guede, Malindi and Gongoni...

Some pics here from the match: Malindi vs Salt City pics

Friday, April 11, 2014

Malindi High are District Champions for 7s

We'll done to all the teams in Malindi district! We had a great tournament this year with newbies Mida giving their best! Mum eye and Gede were stronger than usual, and the cross town rivalry between Barani and Malindi is alive and well!

Barani started a hard fought 5-0 win over muyeye, muyeye has made leaps and bounds of progress with Reagan and "Captain Somalia" Abdul leading the charge.

Gede started turning heads with a 7-5 win against perennial favourites Barani who are obviously well coached.

Muyeye then played a defensive masterpiece against Malindi, which malindi pulled out of the fire with a last second try almost between the posts, unfortunately missing the kicks for a 5-5 tie!

Malindi then pulled off a 10-5 win against barani, again with a last minute try to pull it off. Barani did not disapoint, scoring a try down 5-0 in the second half against a strong wind with many opportunities to score later in the half. Malindi showed committed defence and somehow managed to keep them out.

This set the stage for a massive showdown between two unbeaten teams. Gede ran the opening kickoff straight back for a try which they converted. Down 7-0 nil, malindi was shaken, but somehow managed to climb back with an unconverted try from salim eliud, and then gathered their nerves to put together some nice runs which were valiantly defended by Gede. Malindi were held up on a couple of occasions in the try zone, and were awarded a scrum on the 5 metre line just before the whistle blew. The ball somehow miraculously made it all the way down the line and malindi scored to the elation of the crowd.

Gede was bitterly disapointed, and to be honest, it looked to me like they were playing the best, most consistent rugby in the tournament. I was very pleased with malindi's victory as it showed character against strong competition. So malindi and muyeye are now through. Gede somehow mustered a 5-3 victory in the final game, and I believe it is the first time that they've advanced! Congrats to them and to everyone, I think that the bar is rising in malindi, and together with the great work being done in galana by odima, we are starting to become a serious regional hotbed for rugby.

I only wish we could attract some tours from upcountrytry teams!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Poor performance at Provincials

After all the hype, it appears that a series of mental breakdowns caused Malindi High to Choke their way out of the National Championships.  The team must have been the clear favourites to become champions after two relatively decisive victories over last year's champions and County rivals St Georges in the County Championships.

The team however performed miserably, losing all three of its round robin games against lesser competition.

5-12 Kenyata
0-7 Khamisi
0-26 Shimba

The icing on the cake was that St George's won the competition.  They were awarded a spot in the competition despite being taken out by Malindi on the basis that they were the defending champions. Good luck to them and Coach Ezra in the National tournament!  The runner's up Shimba Hills will also be attending the nationals since the Nationals this year will be held at the coast, the home region apparently receives an extra spot in the tournament.  Good luck to them as well and to coach Nils Achayo, who I understand switched from perennial favourites Shimo la Tewa to Shimba Hills because of discipline issues at the former.

Malindi High will now focus on the upcoming District 7s tournament. Surely mental preparation will be a large part of their training regimen.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Malindi are Kilifi County Champions for 15s!

Big congrats to Waweru and the whole Malindi Rugby Community.  Looks like we made it.  Last year, St Georges looked like unbeatable opposition, and the boys gathered all of their courage, focus and discipline and worked hard on upping their game all year last year.  We strolled through the Districts as expected with some stiff competition from Barani, and now, it seems like we've taken down the cyclops!  We beat St Georges twice in the tournament, once in the opening stages 10-7 and once in the final 6-0!!!

Great work boys!!!  Today, the semi-finals didn't go all Malindi RFC's way, while Malindi thrashed Lutsa'ni 31-0, St Georges did beat Galana 15-3, dashing the hopes of an all Malindi RFC final.  Malindi high stepped up, and won the final with a pair of drop kicks scored through the deft kicking of Stephen Biko.

This feels a bit like winning the Coast Championship for Malindi, as St Georges won all the games last year against Malindi in both 15s and 7s.  But Malindi High's boys must step up and stay focussed as there are sure to be strong challenges ahead in the form of Shimo la Tewa coached by Achayo as well as the perennially strong Taita teams and let's not forget Kwale and the All Blacks from Waa. The provincials will be held on the 25th at Shimo la Tewa and Shanzu.  The nationals are at the Coast this year as well...

Hopefully with our pedigree this year, we might win a couple more games at the Nationals if we make it! ;)