Wednesday, December 11, 2013

South Coast Pirates Game and Walkovers

Rubber Match with South Coast Pirates
Malindi RFC is now preparing for our great friends, and I dare say sister-team on the Coast, South Coast Pirates (SCP).  We will be playing them on Saturday at 4 pm.  I’ve been arranging for accommodation for the team as they will stay the night, quite a nice proposition as it means we can finally have a post game event after the match! 

As those fans who have been following know, we’ve played South Coast twice this year in Nationwide League build up friendlies.  The first Match South Coast won in Ukunda 30 – 19.  I believe that was the first match either team had, and South Coast had some players from Spartans which really gave them some experience.  Our boys were much younger and smaller and probably tired from the trip down, but we loved it!  The second match was much better for us and we won with a 22-13 scoreline.  South Coast was significantly stronger, although they did have at least one Spartan’s player on their team (maybe more I don’t know).  I’ve written about  Kadenge, he’s one of the best players in the league I’ve seen so far, and I have a lot of respect for him, I can’t begrudge his participation, but hopefully he won’t be there this week!

So Saturday is the Rubber match, and this time it is for League points, not just bragging rights, although there will be bragging rights in abundance!  From what I’ve seen, there are four solid teams in this year’s league.  We have played two of them, Spartans and last year’s champs TUM.  Add to that Masaku and Athi River (who in my mind should be playing in the Central Region) and you have the top four teams.  Voi is also strong but has not been honouring their games (we allowed them to try and reschedule but I fear even this will be a walkover!) and this means that we are playing for at least the fifth spot in the league despite being first year teams. Currently SCP is in fourth and we are in Sixth, but if we are awarded the two walkovers deserved for the two games we have not played yet, we would be in third… so it could be said that this game is for third place in the league!
This is the part of the blog where I put my head down and drive into the big guys!

Too Many Walkovers
This brings me to another point, this league has now had a number of walkovers.  Part of the problem is that some of the teams are not organized, many teams it seems have formed just to benefit from the KRU’s travel subsidy for the Nationwide league.  Other teams are school teams and were not available to play for the last two-three weeks (see our missed games with Voi and Pwani) and probably knew that before the season started. Malindi RFC for one, has not played a match in the last four game days, two home and two away.  This has really lowered the morale of the squad, it is pretty self-evident that players are less likely to train if they know that they won't be playing.

Changes in Scheduling process
I think that most of these no-games could have been avoided if First off, the KRU had engaged in a more participatory approach to scheduling.  I would have proposed for instance that the league start earlier which would bring many benefits. 
  1. The weather is better for playing rugby.  The later in the year you get (and into the new year) the more likely you are to encounter hot dry conditions and cement hard pitches and therefore increased likelihood of injuries. In September/October, the pitches are soft and wet and benefit from the short rains and the residual of the long rains in much of the country.  I’ve also lobbied to have the school rugby season pushed back to May-June-July for this very reason.
  2. December/January is traditionally a holiday month with lots of movement, people travel to their home places and are more likely to get seasonal jobs elsewhere.  Also, as mentioned earlier, November/December are exam periods for most of the students (school students leave on holiday end November/December) and it is no secret that many of the teams in the Nationwide league depend in large-part on Student players.  This is positive as it means that we will have players in the future, if we manage to get them to play regularly.

I think for those two main reasons, the league would do well to move next year’s nation wide league up a bit.  I understand that this conflicts with the Sevens season, but perhaps that could benefit from being pushed up into July (also wet and cool) and at any rate, most Nationwide league players do not participate in the Seven’s Circuit which mostly includes Kenya Cup teams. At any rate, participatory planning could have avoided many of these issues as many teams were scheduled games in periods when they already knew when the season started that they would not be able to honour them.  We rescheduled our second and third games, our third and fourth I would have liked to reschedule but how can I reschedule one month’s-worth of matches?   NB. The rescheduled matches have yet to be actually rescheduled to any given date!!!!

Travel Subsidy
The travel subsidy is a contentious issue.  Two of our games were cancelled by the other team's coach because they "didn't receive the subsidy". In some way it seems like it is the elephant in the room that nobody would like to talk about.  Up to this point (and believe me I’ve done my best to find out) I have yet to understand how much is meant to be allocated to any given team, what the allocation is for exactly, how the amounts are calculated and where the money comes from.  I presume it comes from the Union’s general budget fed financially through some sort of sponsorship deals.

Subsidy a Great Investment
Now don’t get me wrong, I think that the Subsidy is essential.  Unfortunately, especially here on the coast, the rugby constituency is far from vibrant.  It is made up of a relatively few, committed players mostly lead by ex-players from up country.  If teams are to get any kind of competition, they need to travel, and traveling costs money, although if planned properly it doesn’t need to be that much. The subsidy is thus very important in growing the game here on the coast as it will allow for players to be exposed to more game time. Also, as with any sport, travel is a great incentive to young players to improve… it's almost like a special bonus for gifted players. Unfortunately, the way the schools system works, the average player plays probably 4 days of rugby a year.  One of the reasons why Malindi High dominates the Coast Region is because their success in tournaments exposes them to 16 days of rugby a year (not including training of course). So the Subsidy should ensure that many more players play more quality rugby with quality refereeing and will exponentially increase incentives for players to invest in their own development.

The problem in my view is transparency.  I can only hope that the KRU has solid plans and budgets for this money.  I respect the officials that I deal with, but I can only ask myself questions about the integrity of these plans/budgets because despite many queries, I have never received an answer to the questions I posed above (are they secret?).  Further, I received a text from the KRU last week (to my delight) that they were sending us some money.  Again, I asked how they arrived at the sum, only so that I may plan my budgets better for the future, and I still have not received an official response.  Now, let me make it clear, I don’t want to criticize and point fingers and my aims are in no way political.  I think that readers of this Blog understand to what level I am committed to growing rugby selflessly on the coast.  But I must say that this lack of transparency is killing Coast rugby.  My queries are almost always met with “it is only a subsidy and not meant to be the whole funding of the team”.  Fine, I get it, but what is the plan? At the beginning of the season, team managers I called often said that they would not be able to play because the Union had not sent the subsidy…. 

I think that if these two issues were addressed openly, the Nationwide league would be much more successful in having more rugby played on the coast.  To be honest, the number of Walkovers and lack of games has certainly diminished the enthusiasm of our team here, and certainly made it difficult to raise support from potential donors.  It also makes it difficult to get fans to the pitch when you cannot promote a game and be sure the other team will arrive.  On most occasions, it was not confirmed that the game was cancelled until the day before.

I sincerely hope that the Kenya Rugby Union will address these issues and I pledge my full support in everyway to better the way Rugby is administered on the coast.  Cheers!

Ps:  I hope David Nolan doesn't wimp out and actually plays against us this time around!!!  (even if he is just an outside centre!) :) Karibuni!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Great Day! Under 19 National Selection Camp Participation - Thanks to Driftwood Beach Club!

Today was probably the best day yet for Malindi Rugby.  I know I’ve been saying this quite a bit lately, but I suppose this is a sign that things have been progressing at light speed for us over the last year!

Today, five of our home grown players, Athman Abud, Tyson Kiema, Taura Emanuel, Kelvin Kithi, and Ian Nyanje were in Nairobi competing with the best Under 19 age group players in the country for spots on Kenya’s National team.  Many thanks to Roger Sylvester and the Driftwood Club in Malindi who backed the boys financially and made the trip possible.  The Driftwood is one of the most beautiful spots on Malindi’s Silversands beach and incidentally, the best and only place you can watch rugby on a big screen with Malindi’s rugger crowd.

The boys apparently did well, although they said that (as expected) the Kakamega guys were physically superior, but they felt like they kept up.  They also said that the Kakamega guys knew all the coaches, and that’s precisely why I was happy they went, our Malindi guys need to be part of the system/community and need to start networking and knowing the right people.  I think knowing people and knowing what to expect can boost performance at that type of a selection camp. 

At any rate, the thing apparently was a bit of a mess at the beginning, lots of guys didn’t have original birth certificates but photocopies (as is the custom here).  I simply told the guys to ensure they had their birth certificates (I didn’t apparently use the word ‘original’ which is key here) and so they brought photocopies.  At first they were turned away but luckily common sense prevailed and they were allowed to have a run around with the rest.  Thanks for your understanding KRU!

I’m told it was mostly fitness testing with a bit of position specific testing, but no contact or scrimmaging/gameplay simulation apart from scrumaging for forwards.  I already wrote to my contacts at the Union to ask them to give us a bit more advanced notice next time.  I could have prepared our guys quite well, to be honest, the guys that went weren’t that fit, but luckily they were playing on and off with the Club against big guys, so they weren’t completely out of it.  But had I known, I would have had them training hard! 

I hope that some of them get called back, realistically, I think it’s unlikely that one of them makes the team.  But as I said earlier, just their presence is a learning experience and three of them will have a chance to go back again better prepared next year, and hopefully they will tell their teammates about it and that will motivate them to be better players. On the other hand, I think there could be a chance that a)The selectors might want to diversify the national team away from just Luyas and Nairobi players.  I saw a tweet saying that they look forward to the day when an Abdi gets on the Kenya team… I replied that there was a guy called Athman Abud trying out for the Under 19 team and he is 210 kilos and can run enough to play 7s in the nation; and b) that they might look at some of our younger guys in view of grooming them for next year, perhaps with some of point ‘a’ in mind; And c) that the sheer size of a couple of the players (Athman ‘Biggie’ Abud and Ian Nyanje are freakishly wide!)  might make them attractive!

Well, anyway, as mentioned at the start, I’m EXTREMELY PLEASED!!!  Also, can’t wait for the next twist in the road/development for Malindi Rugby.  If we can start having an impact on Kenyan Rugby, I’ll be pleased.  I think all of us need to push in the same direction to make sure Kenya Rugby grows in a “resilient” and “sustainable” way.  In a way, Kenya Rugby could be looked at as a litmus test for what the country is going through… Corruption? Destructive Politics? Cronyism? Mismanagement… I think both Kenya and the KRU can rise above all of that stuff genuinely if every one of us believes that it is possible and we all roll up our sleeves and work.  Karibuni to the winning team boys and girls! :) (Ps: sorry for being so cheesy, my mum and dad showed up for a visit today and we’re all feeling good after a great day!)

PPS: The following are bios of Malindi Players I sent to the KRU, in actuall fact, Alphan, Alex and Duncan were too old to attend the camp: 

Tyson Kiema:  Played in two 7s KSSSA National championships, Has been training/playing with Malindi High for 4 years now, generally played on the wing when he was young but graduated as the first choice fly half this year until I found how well duncan kicks.  Kiema is by far my first choice Scrum Half at the club level and has been performing marvellously.  He is extremely fit and fast, his major strength is his passing accuracy and his understanding of the game, what to do at the breakdown and basic strategy.  He's also a clever bugger, one of the top students at Malindi High which is a provincial school.

Kelvin Kithi: Also played in two 7s KSSSA National championships. Has been training/playing with Malindi high for 3 years (he is a form 3).  His two older brothers also played at Malindi High on Provincial Champion 15s and 7s teams and both play for Malindi RFC at present.  He's lanky and fast, has been playing in the second row because of his size and toughness (I don't have many big guys here!), but aspires to play back row and might this year although would be an extremely good back at any position (especially outside centre I reckon). Decent rugby knowledge, and willing to listen and learn.

Athman Abud: Played in three KSSSA NAtional Championships (two 7s and one 15s).  Has played for three years at Malindi High always on the first team by nature of his size, at 110 kilos probably the biggest coastarian in school rugby.  He plays both prop positions well, but can move enough to play on my sevens team.  Strong tackler and decent ball carrier and passer (although I'd like him to pass less!).  Built to last.

Taura Emanuel:  I think only played this year, is a form three, but made it on the first team as a flanker this year and will probably be captain next year.  Bright, sharp, hard, strong, fast, loyal, excellent tackler, perhaps my favourite player at the moment.  Played back row at school but I have tried him at scrum half for Malindi RFC when Kiema wasn't available and he did extremely well.  He could probably play anywhere on the pitch, he's hard an you'll love his tackling and bravery.  The kind of player that can carry a team on his shoulders.

Alphan Mwinyikombo: Big fellow and team leader.  Extremely fit, good tackler and quite big.  Took over some games.  Perhaps not the sharpest tool in my tool box but he makes up for it in pure effort and strength and is always on any team of mine if he is fit which is almost always.  Also a good guy for rallying the troops, often speaks up for the team.  He also could do well in the backs and has an unbelievable distance on his kicks, great drop kick as well as place kick for goal!

Alex Karissa (Gaza):  Another team leader, transferred to the school this year after learning the game in fertile rugby breeding ground of Taita. Put him at flanker as he has the highest fitness levels but prefers to play in the backs.  Quite lanky, very fast and quick, magnificent 7s player but not as disciplined as I'd like in 15s as he makes up his own script often as he goes along, often with great results (Quade Cooper style).  Also a team leader, very Charismatic, I think his mum is on the county government… A big reason for our success this year.

Ian Nyanje:  Another fellow who has a great frame for rugby.  His fitness is not what I'd like it to be but he makes up for it with his size and body awareness.  He is an excellent ball carrier and adds a great deal of mass to the pack.  He's a form two, so lots of room to grow, still lots of maturing to do.  He was the other first choice prop on the 15s team but did not make the team consistently playing sevens because of speed/fitness issues.

Duncan Maghanga: Was a winger at the start of the season and then when I realized how well he kicked, moved him to fly half. His kicks for touch were pure magic, and he is accurate when going for goal from distance.  He is also pretty good at organizing the backs although his game knowledge is not magnificent as he only joined us I think consistently at the beginning of this year.  He was a leader of the 7s team that went to nationals this year, but hasn't been training with the team recently.  Also one of the lead academic performers at the school (which is why I don't fault him for missing training), which is his reason for not participating in Malindi RFC matches this year.

Please contact me if you'd like any further info.  I think we're sorted, but would love it if the boys could be billeted with nairobi based players… Otherwise do you have any suggestions for cheap (circa 500 ksh) accommodation near the pitch? As suggested I gave them Wasike's number, but I do have an assistant coach up there collecting them from the bus and bringing them to the accommodation. In the future, it would be great to know about this type of selection camp ahead of time, I would have pushed the players more physically and picked on them to perform at a higher level.  I sort of took the foot off the accelerator recently in view of having them concentrate more on their exams, I would say that most of them are at about 70% of their normal fitness levels, although that's already pretty good.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

TUM 15 - Malindi 7

Another great day for Malindi Rugby last Saturday, not so great for the Canadian National team!  We had another successful trip down to mombasa, this time to the beautiful TUM campus in Tudor.  A couple of the guys at TUM are ex-malindi guys, including the Captain (Enock, we call him Bogogno), so we felt very at home.  The pitch was less than desirable, with trees overhanging which would block many of the kicks and many stones on the ground.  We spent 30 mins pre game removing stones.

The game started with them kicking the ball to us, winning the ball by holding up our ball for a scrum, and then them proceeding to pound the ball in.  I was worried, but luckily we finished the half at 10-0.  Most of the first half they basically held our mall up and killed the ball, thus winning the scrum put in.  Was frustrating that our players didn't adapt to that right away, but lessons have been learnt in training this week.  Many of the senior players who didn't play at Malindi High had been trained to go into contact by hitting the defender with the ball so that they would bounce off!  Imagine, giving the ball straight to the defender!

At any rate, we played much better in the second half.  I missed a kick which was knocked on, there was a penalty on the ensuing scrum and Simba ran it in for a try.  He again was the MVP from our side, he had a couple of marvellous runs where he took on their whole team… his finishing was also better but he still needs to work on his kicking for goal and touch, although he gets a ridiculous amount of distance on his kicks!!  They scored another scrappy try, even though we were knocking on their door the whole second half, and the game ended 15-7.

I was extremely pleased, I believe TUM won the Coast Division of the same league last year, so was expecting to be destroyed.  And I do believe that the trip takes something out of us.  It's not exactly a comfy bus.  Perhaps we'll have to leave earlier in the future so the boys can rest.  Problem is, we haven't been receiving the travel subsidy (let alone I don't even know how much it will be) so can't afford to pay for lunch for the boys and the transport bill already is not that easy to make!  Hope the Union will come through, I know they are having a hard time, but most teams are not honouring their away games it seems…  A shame we haven't had a home game yet.

Karibuni Malindi High this week for Coast Raiders on Saturday at 3 pm!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Video: Simba makes a good break!

Here's the link!

Malindi RFC Youtube site link to Simba runs

This one is of Simba making a good break, but unfortunately loosing the ball after a lot of hard work… we're constantly working on this!

Spartans 25 - Malindi RFC 6

I feel like we’ve passed possibly the most important threshold! It’s been a great week for Malindi Rugby.  As most of you already know, we had our first ever Nationwide league match against Spartans in Mombasa, many long stories that I’ll tell later.  The important bit is that we managed to have our first league match! I feel like now, the rest is gravy, as being in the league gives Malindi Rugby most of what it needs to grow.  A game every week against decent competition will do wonders for rugby and create the incentive needed for the young guys to keep pushing and improving.

Starting fifteen at Spartans: Top: Biggie, Ibrahim, Kubamba, Teddy, Jemusi, Simba, Taura, Gaza, Salim Eliud, Nicolas. Bottom: Kiema, Kelvin Kithi, Nyanje, Mwinyi and Mlewa
The Game itself was fantastic!  We lost 25-6 (Simba signed a gamesheet that put it at 27-6 but I never saw a kick converted from their side and the KRU website put it at 35-6) but the score line didn’t reflect the way the game went.  Yes, they were MUCH better than us, the first truly organized team we’ve played against with very deliberate ball movement, solid forwards, a good set of backs that could not only run, but tackle, kick and sort of counter attack. 

We had a very bad run over 4-5 minutes which pretty much decided the game about mid-way through the first half. Spartans scored a well earned try from consistent forward moves pounding our guys further and further back and eventually scoring through persistence and ball possession, and shortly after regained possession in our half about midway between our twenty two and the half line.  It looked like they would kick for the corner, but they tapped and gave it to the forwards after a bit of a wait, and our boys did not react.  It was a clear run straight into goal for an extremely demoralizing try after a lot of hard work to keep them out!  Our boys were frazzled and their team went for a drink and simba though well to surprise them with a swift kickoff into an empty backfield but in the rush, a couple of our players were over anxious and offside on the kickoff (borderline!).  The ref awarded a penalty which Spartans ran again through our team for a very easy try!  15 points in a very short time. 

To be honest, they certainly deserved the win, they defended well and were much stronger than us in the pack.  In fact, they had a couple of players which gave us trouble in our exibition games against south coast.  One in particular, I think might be the best forward I’ve seen on the coast called Kadenge.  Cheers Kadenge!  Was extremely impressed with your strength, commitment and consistency.  He carried both South Coast and Spartans on his shoulders garnering the majority of the ball in all three games and teaching our young pack a lesson on each occasion.  But it wasn’t all them, I would say most of the game was played around their 22, and we probably had the lion’s share of possession.  We had a pretty decent kicking game going, although it didn’t translate into enough points for us. One of the technical mistakes I made coaching was for political reasons I put two players from Galana on the wings just to give them “morali” and they had never trained with us and basically didn’t really know where to position themselves and one of them couldn’t tackle!  I think I’ll probably not do that anymore but there is something to balancing selection and ensuring that everyone has a chance to play!  I hope they appreciated it! I was however proud of the way we played and if we keep it up, we will probably finish with a handful of wins this season and I would hope contest for the top three spots.

Next week is TUM, last year’s champs, and we should have seen them play last week as they were scheduled to play Masaku, but unfortunately that game was cancelled, seemingly because of the politics that risks to kill the game in Kenya. The problem was not that Masaku was a no show, but in fact, two teams arrived to the pitch claiming to represent Masaku.  Both teams seemed extremely organized and to be honest, I was supprised to find two teams that made the long trip from machakos and didn’t even get the chance to play!  Apparently there was some dispute between the players and the coach, the players were demanding to be paid more (or something of the like, I plead ignorance) and apparently the coach “fired the whole team” (his words!) and made a completely new one.  So the two teams were his old one and his new one.  They couldn’t come to an agreement and so it seems like TUM was awarded a walk over.  A bit unfair I think as they made the effort to show up!

That brings up my last point.  Organising anything down here on the coast is quite difficult especially when it involves moblising large numbers of people.  It’s not like back home for me, where everyone can manage some way or another to pay their own way, buys their own kit, pay for transport, food… simple very basic stuff!  And the KRU guys are definitely trying, but I do get the impression that they are a bit overwhelmed.  I am faced with organizing 60 guys, but they are faced with organizing 77 teams!  I sort of thought that we would be the least organized since we were new, but now I realized that there aren’t that many structures in place in the other clubs and for even the most established, it is not necessarily that easy to find a pitch to train and play on every week. 

So hats off to everyone that is trying hard to make rugby work in Kenya and especially the coast.  I’m doing my best here to stay positive and to find solutions (not create more problems).  I hope that like me, everyone’s goal is to ensure that more rugby is played.  The money might come boys, but only once we show that we are organized, trustworthy and solid… all this yapping back and forth doesn’t help anyone, and we need to stick together and try to get as many young people playing as possible.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Malindi RFC 8 - Pwani University 5

Things are coming along quite well at the club, we had our 3rd friendly in a month which is great and second victory on home ground.  The most encouraging part is we are starting to get some fans come out to the game, it's quite a nice place to spend a saturday afternoon as the Malindi High ground is surrounded by trees and there is quite a nice breeze!

Thanks especially to Stefano for coming out and taking pictures of the match, now that I've started playing the full 80 minutes I'm not able to take pics!  We really appreciate it!

The game itself was ok.  I actually thought we should have dominated the scoreboard.  As I wanted to play and there were no other refs someone from their side reffed and it was pretty clear that a) he had never reffed before and b) he was doing his best to give his boys the advantage.  Fairplay, I just told the boys to keep their mouths shut and play harder, it was a good experience for them.

Our pack did well as usual but didn't dominate like against South Coast.  We were missing some key players.  Simba only made it for part of the second half as he had to work and Dzenya played fly half which he is not very well suited for since he likes to bang away with the ball in hand.  We also had Teddy at Scrum Half in the first half (he's a natural hooker) and that sort of killed the flow of the ball at the start of the game.  But things improved a bit when Tyson Kiema came in at 9.  He's a great player who is really coming into his own but still has some issues that I can't figure out, he only showed up at half time despite being at the school.  He's a great player when he puts his mind to it and even a good leader.  I wish I could figure out how to motivate him properly!

At any rate, we mostly were on our back foot in the second half, the game was scrappy.  I really thought we should have crushed these guys but the pack play broke down again in the second half and with lots of injuries and substitutions we never really had a good flow going.  Waweru took over the reffing in the second half and did extremely well, he really has grown as a ref, and I suppose I appreciate him more after seeing some of the other horror shows on the coast!

At any rate, seems things keep looking up.  Carefully selecting a sponsor as I want a good match for the boys so that we can move upward and onward.
Very high attacking scrum, need to work on this!

Nice run to the outside, looks like they are all running sideways though!

Some fans, nice day for rugby eh boys?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Try after a couple of good runs against South Coast

Another Big Game Against Pwani University Sunday at 3 pm - Malindi RFC Ground - Malindi High!

Looks like the ball is rolling!  Another big match on Sunday against Pwani University.  This should be our toughest competition as a club yet.  I think we're ready for it, we've had the boys play against some big lads now and they've shown their true colours with grit and discipline shining through.  Can't wait to see what happens against Pwani, it should give us a good indication of how we might do in the league!

See you all there I hope!  I think we might have some journalists and photographers there!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Malindi RFC 22 - South Coast Pirates 13

Traditional post-match photo, thanks for coming South Coast, the coastal rugby brotherhood is getting stronger!
Malindi RFC took part in another excellent friendly match with South Coast Pirates whom this time made the return trip up to come and visit us.  I can't say enough about the character of these boys, I always enjoy playing against them and it's great to be able to count on a team to show up when we organise a friendly and now they are 2 for 2!  Great show!  They were accompanied by their County Sports Representative, a fellow called William who is quite a nice bloke and seems to be pretty committed to the team.  Unfortunately David Nolan was away on holiday, would have liked to have him up so that I could return the hospitality provided to me on the first leg!

It was quite a different match this time around, South Coast was not quite as big as they were on their home ground and we added a bit of size.  They were still on average heavier than us, but I suppose also the trip takes something out of you and we had a flying start and got to 22-0 quite early on. This was done mostly through some wonderful bruising forward play, mostly pick and go but also some off the scrumhalf's hip passes with big bad forwards coming from a bit deeper.  There was also a classic Zeinia run for a try at some point and Harold Simba, this time at a more natural out half position rather than scrum half where he played last teime, kicked like a champion.  His kicking worked very well and I hope that we keep him in that part of the field orchestrating play. I switched from openside flanker to inside centre just to fill in a gap (As we had lots of back row players already) and loved it!  Had an awesome first half and a poor second half, but might get lazy and stay in that spot, was a great spot to coach from!

We finished the half at 22-3 and South Coast seemed to regroup in the second half, taking the game to us more strongly.  We resisted for quite a while with the Pirates knocking on the door for most of the first part of the half and asking questions of our tackling which I'm proud to say held out for quite a while despite great pressure.  This eventually gave in.  I took a yellow card for taking the rules into my own hands. Their number eight was constantly offside in the ruck and playing the ball with his hands while lying down after the tackle, and the first couple of times I had words with him, the next I allowed him to feel my frustration.  Luckily the ref only gave me a yellow, but I learnt my lesson and felt sheepish as I trotted to the sin bin, my first ever sin bin but not first yellow.  Just goes to show how long it's been since I played semi serious rugby!

South Coast went on to Score a couple of unconverted tries, and while they had the momentum the whole second half, it wasn't enough.  We substituted on a bunch of younger guys to give them a game for showing up, and in the end everyone was pretty pleased with the effort!

Can't thank enough the South Coast guys for coming up, good on you!  And thanks also to Waweru and Odima for all the hard work done on pre-match preparation, getting the posts up and the field mark.  We even had quite a few fans this time around!  Karibuni next weekend for our match against Pwani University!!!

Malindi RFC pre-match photo

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Link for player registration

All Malindi players, please register on this site and click Malindi RFC as your club:

As discussed, this is the rugby ready site for coach/ref certification:


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Some videos from the Malindi RFC vs South Coast Pirates game at Ukunda Showground!

Here's the link, will upload more pole pole!!! Would love to read your comments!

Monday, October 7, 2013

This is worth a good laugh!

Thanks Sydney for sharing this...

"why rugby has backs: explained"

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friendly Match at South Coast Pirates

We had a great friendly match igniting what might prove to be quite a rivalry between to great rugby coastal communities last Sunday. Malindi RFC played the South Coast Pirates at Ukunda Show grounds for the first time.  The rivalry reflects a strong school rivalry as Waa and Kwale were previously perennial favourites in the school game.

The game was great, Malindi RFC would like to thank Colin Forbes and Paul Thompson from Base Titanium who helped out greatly with the expenses and even hosted us with pre and post match meals! Extra special thanks to David Nolan who seems to be the organising force behind the SC Pirates and was the one that invited us down and made sure everything went seamlessly!  Good on you David (even though you chickened out and didn't play!)!

In the end, the pirates were on average a lot older and a lot bigger than us, we came out of it on a respectable  30-19 scoreline which I was quite happy with.  Their pack probably had 150 kilos on ours and we were all Giriyamas except for me and they had a number of great players with Kenya Cup experience from Western province.  Learning experience and our first  away match.  Good preparation for the National League maybe!

Also many thanks to George Barbour and all the boys and girls down at forty thieves who were there supporting the match, taking pictures and providing little old me with some well earned post match beers!  Good on you!  Pictures are here PLEASE CLICK ON THIS LINK

Also thanks to Lindsay and Kennaway fam from Kenyaways kite village for hosting me post match, we had quite a nice visit!  Karibuni nyote Malindi!!!

Oh, and one last note, in the pics below, Malindi RFC is in Maroon and Yellow and Diani in Black and Red!

Running around the corner, we're still not great at running straight!
Here I am about to smash it in to the forwards!
Biggie (our biggest guy on the day), taking some punishment, he didn't wear boots, was playing prop and the field was covered in thorns!!!!

Here I am taking it in again off the ruck, I was probably the oldest guy by ten years on the pitch!

Up and coming Taura picking and going from the ruck, watch this young stud!

Our gallant hosts.  Thanks for the game boys!  Karibuni Malindi!

When they're bigger than you, you tend to run sideways!  Run straight guys!! :)

Looks like a broken tackle here, can't really tell who this is, maybe Kelvin Kithi?

Pretty high scrum, most guys didn't have boots!

Anthony Kithi (Zenia to MRFC guys) made some great runs on the outside

Zenia forcing the pass

Zenia with the straight-arm!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Malindi RFC Background

Malindi RFC Starting 15 at Friendly Match Ukunda Show Grounds Vs South Coast Pirates
Malindi RFC was put together in early 2013 in order to give school players who have graduated a chance to compete at the next level and to give the up and coming younger school players a chance to see more advanced rugby and provide them with older role models in an attempt to solidify the growth of a rugby culture in Malindi. It is coached by James Terjanian and Nicolas Waweru, with some assistance from Odima and support from Twaha and is lead by Captain Harold Simba and Anthony Kithi. 

The team consists of players mainly from Malindi High, Barani and Galana Secondary school with some participation from Muyeye.  Malindi High has represented the coast in the National KSSSA championships on 4 occasions in the last 5 years and is now gearing up to improve its record in those championships.

The team trains and plays at Malindi High School in Ngala estate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 4:30 PM and welcomes any Rugby player residing in Malindi or Magarini Districts.  We think that there might be rugby players form upcountry that would be interested in playing but might not know about us, so any publicity to that effect would be great.  

Malindi RFC does not have solid financial backing yet, but has received some financial support to attend the Diani Beach Rugby tournament in July from Amani Riviera, a group hoping to promote tourism on the Coast to non Italians the remaining funding comes from local rugby enthusiast James Terjanian and in kind contributions from Malindi High. Malindi RFC has a development plan it is seeking sponsors for which includes introducing touch rugby to primary schools, Improving secondary school participation in Rugby, the development of a Rugby Academy in Malindi and the participation of Malindi RFC in high level National Competitions. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sad days for kenya + possible match in South Coast

I'd like to start off just by saying how sad everyone is feeling right now.  At training on Saturday, everyone was in a low mood and we discussed with horror and shock what appeared to be happening in Nairobi, although at that point we had no idea of the gravity of what had/was to unfold.  Feels like everything will change forever!

I hope, as always that we can by staying positive and preaching focus, commitment and discipline that we can make some sort of an impact on this place.  Kenyans are by nature so open and positive, but I feel like slowly but surely this can only be eroded by events such as what happened this weekend at Westgate in Nairobi.  Let's hope for the best.  At time of writing this, the siege is underway, and we still don't have much info about what is going on except that there are many gunshots and explosions and there is smoke billowing out of the roof.  Our prayers are with al those involved and I hope that this thing ends very soon with as little damage as possible (more than the horrifying losses that have already occurred).

I wanted to just update the blog to say that we were invited last week by David Nolan, a fellow that I met down in Diani at the beach tournament and then up here at Che Shale.  Really looking forward to a game this week, need to see if we manage with the resources we have to make it down there... but I think we will.  Might have to see if any of those Amani Riviera guys are still interested!

Friday, August 30, 2013

New Video for Malindi High Rugby vs Muyeye

Malindi vs Muyeye

Was just playing around with some old game film I had, this was their first game this year... kind of hilarious to watch... you can see how low quality the rugby is!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Look out Driftwood! Here we come!!!!!

Very excited this week as we finish preparation for the Driftwood sevens tournament.  This will be Malindi RFC's first KRU sanctioned event (I learnt last week at the Kabeberi sevens that it is no longer the KRFU!).  Proof: :)

So we are training, and the boys are excited.  I mentioned that I made it to Nairobi for the Kabeberi tournament at Mwamba's Railway club.  Well set up, excellent calibre rugby.  I was very happy to finally meet rugby personalities and movers and shakers such as Tank Otieno, Felix Ochieng, Mitch Ochola, Chiro Nyinge, Adelade Nasambu, Thomas Opiyo and countless others.  Unfortunately my phone was stolen right after I met them all so I lost all the pictures and contacts, but hopefully can recoup them next weekend! Thanks all of you for taking the time to chat and share a beer!

I mention this because many of these will be at Driftwood and so am looking forward to showing them what Malindi Rugby is about.  I am a bit worried, we are quite young and obviously will have no players with any experience of competition at this level.  We are playing in the B division and having watched the A division at Kabeberi, I think we might be able to compete.  Don't get me wrong, the top teams (Mwamba, Strathmore, Quins, etc) performed at an extremely high level, perhaps for sevens rugby the top elite level.  But there were some teams that didn't quite have it together.  I do have a couple of players that I'm hoping to showcase, kina Harold Simba and Anthony Kithi (we call him Zeinia) are two players that are relatively well known on the coast.  They have been on coast select teams which travelled to the Safari sevens tournament and I think between the two of them they played in 4 or five KSSSA nationals for fifteens and sevens, so for the coast they are established.  I'm hoping that Mitch and Co will have a good look at them and possibly that the Union might think about helping us invest in developing players here on the north coast.

Looking forward to seeing you all in Mombasa!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Malindi Rugby Development Plan

I have spoken earlier about the Malindi Rugby Development plan.  I have garnered interest from a couple of sponsors in Malindi, but the aim is to start small and get going.  Mine and Waweru’s goal (we welcome anyone who wants to help out!) is to have a team from Malindi win the nationals in the next ten years, and to have 3 players on the national 15s team in the next ten years!  The plan itself has been developed in much more detail with activities and budgets lined out. Happy to hear your comments!

The plan has four prongs which are the following:

Introduce touch rugby to the primary schools, sending ex high school players (club players) to primary schools and giving each school one ball, the player would lead them in "touch" training games to ensure exposure at an early age and ensure that we don't always have to start from scratch when they get to high school.

Increase the number of secondary schools playing rugby in Magarini and Malindi districts, currently there are 7 (two of the ones in Magarini are quite shaky), this would involve some basic training of coaches, a bit of supervision and provision of some equipment.

Development of a “Rugby Accademy” which is essentially a select side taken from the high schools playing rugby.  Any rugby player put forward by his (and yes eventually her) coach who has at least a B would qualify.  We would aim for 30 under 20 players and 30 under 17 players, put them up for a residential 3 week camp, bring in a forwards and a backs coach from up country and give them a 5k scholarship for that term.  The Accademy would take place in three separate sessions during the school holiday period (April, August and December. The two teams would then take part in at least one tour of a rugby playing area at the end of the academy period.

Development of a Rugby club with Senior and Junior Sides. As I mentioned, we have been working hard on this lately but the one stumbling block is the entry into high profile competitions and transport resources.  This year we are aiming to enter (if the KRU allows) the next Chairman's cup (Ezra from St Georges credits this and the transport facilitation for his success this year and urged us to look into it) and the Driftwood 7s and Prinsloo tournaments in the national 7s circuit which is very soon.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Things going up and up, club getting sponsorship maybe, diani beach tourney etc...

Again another late post!  One of these days I’ll actually write about things when they happen.  But to be honest it is quite nice to document everything so that people I’m dealing with can get the picture and so that I remember how everything went! So, I met some Italian investors who appear to want to promote Malindi to non Italians and they reckon that Rugby is a good vehicle for that.  There was some discussion of a Rugby Academy to teach street kids how to play rugby… the only thing is there aren’t really street kids in Malindi! :) These guys made quite a splash at the beginning.  Without checking whether or not there was any rugby happening in Malindi they invited the Nondies’ sevens team to Rome to play against Frascati (a minor Italian team based in Rome) who proceeded to thrash them.  They paid the nondies way there, put them up in hotels and paid all their expenses etc etc… it’s interesting to hear the players’ account of it all!  A bit frustrating for me because they probably could have done a month long tour with the same amount of money and probably that amount of money could have moved mountains for Rugby here!  Anyway, I met up with these guys and they are interested in what we are doing which is great!  I’ve sent them the documents I’ve been preparing for the development of rugby in Malindi including introducing some touch rugby in primary schools, increasing secondary school participation, setting up a select team/elite junior academy, finance some tours for junior teams and yes, set up a senior club which regular participation in the 7s and 15s tournaments.  They seem to be on board, they also have plans to work on a stadium etc, but I’m trying to get them to build slowly and surely and make more efficient and effective investments without throwing their money all over the place.  Well, have discussed this with the boys, and they’re all pretty excited about it.  The level of training has significantly increased!  They paid initially for us to go to the Diani Beach tournament at Forty Thieves which was a lot of fun mostly and excellent networking opportunity!  Special thanks to George Barbour for hosting us and making us feel part of the south coast rugby community and extra special thanks to Helen Antoni who introduced us to the idea of going down and greatly facilitated our participation! We did actually surprisingly well at the tournament considering we didn’t know a lot of the funny rules! It was also kind of interesting to see the reaction of the guys watching the older guy plays and to see two mzungu populated teams in the final… one was called Karen Crusaders which is kind of funny!  So lots of things going on!  More very soon I hope! Karibuni mazowezi any time at Malindi high at 4:30 if you are going to be in malindi!!!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Malindi High at the National Championships in Nakuru

Well, it's the same old story!  As good as it is for us to have the national exposure, we were crushed at the Nationals.  The first game against (granted Perennial National Favourites) Kakamega resulted in an almost incredible 60 - 0 score line, that's almost a try a minute pace...

The boys had been buoyed by their two wins last year against Alliance and Shimo la Tewa (I think in the shield) and had aimed to have at least two wins in the group to try to advance to the quarters. but this was not to be this year. That game took all of the steam out of the boys and the rest of the tournament proved tough to motivate them.  There has been a lot of talk about Kakamega fielding older players than regulations, I don't know if that is the case, but I hope someone looks into it.  In the mean time, it's just fuel for us to work harder! This again is the main thing we need to work on with them from now on, mental toughness. Other scores were a close 15-10 loss to Moi, 29-0 loss to Alliance and then a 7 - 0 loss to Kibiricho in the bowl.  St Georges beat St Mary's Yala and made it to the Quarters.  Good on them!  I suppose our goal next year has to be to beat Georges!!!

Regional (Provincial) Success for Malindi H again...

I Haven't updated this post in a while poleni!  So just wanted to document the continued success of the Malindi High team!  Congratulations to the Boys once again, they were not (regional) provincial champions but lost in the final (to guess who? St Georges) which gave them the right to represent the coast in the National Championships in Nakuru.  Perhaps I had been to hard on the boys.  It turned out that St Georges was in deed the best team on the Coast, and although I don't like that we were second best, I do feel that Georges was over aged and that they had an unfair advantage.  They have a club team at their disposal (Shephards) which allows their boys to travel and have access to higher level competition.  We're working on getting that for our boys here.  We're lucky only that we were not on their side of the table!

At any rate, as promised, after the counties, I switched my focus to the younger boys, only acting as a distant advisor to Waweru prior to the Regionals. I have also had long discussions with Waweru about discipline and the need to make sure we focus on having our players develop strong character and moral values rather than sacrifice to win, and I am now satisfied that he is on board with that.  I think by withdrawing myself, I sent a clear message to the boys which they understood.

I'm sure it will happen again, if I've learnt one thing with this project is that you have to be patient, deliberate, loyal and just be determined and eventually success comes. Actually we've had a lot.  Our long term goal is to WIN THE NATIONALS in ten years and to have three players representing Kenya within that timeframe.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Success and disappointment... out with the old and in with the new!

The Malindi High 7s team after the District tournament, just couldn't get them disciplined or committed  this year!

We found success and disappointment at the same time at the Kilifi county tournament at St Georges.  I arrived to find that we had been drawn the most difficult pool.  We were in a pool with Galana (aforementioned feared team) and Mariakani, meaning our pool of three probably had three of the top four teams in the tournament. There were two other pools with four teams each, and I was a bit disappointed as I’m always looking for more experience for our players, in the end, if they made it to the finals they would only play 70 minutes of rugby! At any rate, I spent time discussing with Waweru, Chibudu and the Captain (Salim) the different options for lineups and personel changes and we agreed that we would like to try to get as many changes in as possible as there was a long road ahead before the Nationals and there was a large possibility for injury.

The first game was a surprise 10-0 victory for Mariakani over Galana which only served to intensify my fear that we may not make it to the next round.  The format of the tournament had the first two teams going through as well as two of the best third place teams, but it was virtually impossible for the third place team from our group to make it simply on the basis of not playing as many games. Mariakani was strong against us as expected, apparently they had a couple of players that play at Mombasa sports club and it showed.  They were well organized and almost always managed to move the ball all the way across the field with ease.  We beat them though with our sheer fitness advantage and the final score was 12-0.

Galana was thus playing like a desperate team against us, a loss to us would mean and end to their tournament.  They played well as expected against us, and unfortunately, as usual, when Malindi High is under pressure, they forget all of the training, tactics and strategy we’ve discussed over the last three months (for some of them three years!) and start playing this street brawling coast rugby with millions of knock-ons! I decided to make some changes at half time to put on two of our fastest players on the wings and players that had bought more into our system.  Both are better at kicking and this would have been the perfect antidote to the heavy pressure Galana was putting on our line, but the substituted players and Zeinia (an ex-player and last year’s captain that had accompanied us) heavily protested and in the end no changes were made.  In the end Waweru decided not to make the changes even though we had agreed to them before hand.

I was incensed.  In the end, nothing changed in the game, the boys continued to play low quality rugby and the match finished a 0-0 draw.  The result was good in that we finished first in our pool and eliminated Galana, but for me it was a disaster as 1) I had been undermined in my decision making 2) we basically played only 7 players in the first round of the tournament and I was hoping to play everyone in the first round and 3) and possibly most importantly, we were winning but not playing even decent rugby.  If we wanted to represent the coast at the nationals, we had to play solid tactical rugby.  

The team immediately broke down after the game and all the players started yelling at each other, blaming each other for the poor result.  I came to them, calmed them down and told them that we needed to be positive, that the result was good in the end, but that we needed to analyse what was wrong and fix it.  I also told them that I would not accept dissention, especially during the match, and if they didn’t like the decisions I was making, I would quite happily relinquish decision making responsibilities to someone else.  I said the same thing to Waweru privately, I was quite disappointed as I really felt that we had the potential to achieve quite a lot as a group, but as usual, panic turned to disorganization and if we continued on this familiar path, we would not get anywhere, especially against extremely well trained, orgainised, focused, committed and disciplined teams like St Georges who had been destroying the teams in their group by at least 30 points without conceding any tries. The organisation, focus, commitment and discipline was exactly what we lacked.

I stayed the night in Mombasa, and came back in time for our first game which was against the second place team in the other group.  I discussed lineup options with Waweru.  I wasn’t in agreement with what he had decided which was to generally stay with the first team the whole way through.  He was quite nervous about making it through, but my approach was more to trust the players. In my view they were each one as good as the other, to be honest, the skill level was low across the board but everyone’s fitness was pretty good.  The one factor that differentiated them was their speed and he actually was not playing the fastest team. 

We just needed to check on a couple of injuries, and when we brought one player over he announced to us that it had already been decided that he wouldn’t play and he told us about a couple of other changes the players had decided on… I was pretty upset especially because we had been spending so much time discussing these issues, and apparently they had already been decided.  I sort of felt like my input wasn’t necessary or appreciated since nobody took the time to tell this to us, and it was announced to us as the players were about to take the field!  At that point I simply withdrew and allowed them to do what they wanted.  The results were predictable.  They barely beat a pretty shabby team again playing their street fighting rugby and then barely got by Mariakani again I think something like 5-0. 

I left at that point as I was still pretty upset and didn’t feel like contributing to a team that didn’t appreciate my contribution, also, their advancement was secured to the provincial (regional) tournament as both finalist go through.  They were crushed in the final 34-0.  This was the disappointing part for me… the goal all along was to be the best team in the province, and we can’t even pretend to be close when we don’t win all of our games in the counties and get completely crushed like a bush league team would in the final!  Waweru said the boys basically had it in their minds that they couldn’t beat St Georges and it showed.  I’m sure they could if they played the type of rugby we’ve been training.

This whole situation has led me to some soul searching.  I think this whole year I’ve been writing about the fact that I have been disappointed in this particular team in terms of especially discipline, focus and commitment.  We did ask them what their goal was and it was to win two games at nationals, so I took them at their word and tried to push them to a level where they could achieve that. Unfortunately the team was not ready to train at that level, and I’m trying not to be upset with them, because my commitment was sound.  I invested quite a lot into having them be successful only to be lied to, and disappointed throughout the process.  

I really feel like finding another team to coach… but I suppose this is just a dud year and I should find a way to lower my expectations.  I guess I got excited by the continued success and upward trajectory we’d seen in the last three consecutive years.  Perhaps the formula of having kids train earlier in mass (form 1s and 2s) and routing out the bad habits from the beginning will help.  I promise never to put up with any player who thinks he’s better than the rest and doesn’t come to training or feigns injury.  It’s time to mold these guys into real rugby players and to stop looking at them like students from the coast that need to be babied!  Hopefully the newly established club will help with that!