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.