KENYA CUP FINALS REVIEW - FRED OLLOWS

KENYA CUP FINALS REVIEW - FRED OLLOWS


#KenyaCup 2019 has been memorable! KCB won, inspite of the imperious form that Kabras showed throughout. We will pause for a moment beyond the fact that Kabras has been unable to beat KCB in 11 attempts. One common denominator for the two clubs is how much they are investing in the sport. I loved the corporate banter between the two, in the run-up to the final. The Kabras fan presence in the regular season match, at Impala Club, had been way stronger. For the final, KCB let it be known that they are the senior corporate in the relationship. That they'd answer the round one backhand compliment 🀣 So, the immediate pitch perimeter was as green as anything. This was partly because the Nairobians having travelled, were early to the grounds. They found a good distraction in the curtain raising Championship League final between Kisumu and Western Bulls RFCs. Incidentally, some Bulls people don't see eye to eye with Kabras. In any case their chairman Bigi Siganga runs the KCB Kakamega branch 😎 Anyhow, the two clubs invested quite a bit in their pre-seasons. Former Kabras assistant coach, Anthony Ogot made a notable point in the course of fan banter during the season: "15s hushindwa off season" (XVs Rugby is won off-season). Well, as a KCB old boy and multiple Kenya Cup champion, he should know.. It's the approach of the two clubs that was different. KCB decided to take their team on a tour to Cape Town, South Africa. It was a big contingent that included bank staff. The team morale was highly boosted. On a technical front, their defence became much better structured. They then used the Impala Floodlit tournament to test out things. They always put up a strong showing in that pre-season tournament. Sitting right next to the club chairman Xavier Makuba, two finals in a row now, one can see what it means to them. Three good pre-season fixtures. They begun the league season with something in the bag. True, they slipped up vs Nondescripts RUFC. It kept them honest and in chase mode all regular season. Kabras, on the other hand, did targeted recruitment in the off-season. In came Henley du Plessis, as coach, at the expense of Charles Cardovillis, to head a completely different management team save for SnC coach Richard Ochieng. Ochieng was asked to relinquish his Kenya Simbas position to concentrate on a heavy Kabras pre-season shift! The sugarmen also recruited a fly half Logan Basson, centre Mario Wilson and no. 8 Claude Johannes from South Africa. This was a departure from their Fijian influence. Only the 10/15 talisman Jone Kubu remained. They still didn't have a scrum half to suit their thinking. They settled for a change in position for previous winger Brian Tanga, to good effect. When the game historians come by, there will be a place for the change in the season halfback pairing of Tanga and Basson, in the final loss. I rate Philip Wokorach, probably the season MVP, and young Barry Robinson. They just hadn't had enough matches together by the final. They couldn't be influential enough when KCB cranked it up, in the final quarter, even with a 15-7 lead. So, the radically different approaches gave real bite to, now, the #1 rivalry in #KenyaRugby. I mean, the fan banter begun minutes after the semi final, to the consternation of Larry Asego πŸ˜…. This is an aspect I truly loved this season. The fans went at each other hammer and tongs for much longer than the matches lasted. It was a true exhibition of passion - a tenet of the game, incidentally, and a game asset. Long may it continue. Certainly, the Kabras fans turning it into a Nairobi vs Upcountry match brought oomph. So did the "club" vs "team" observation of former Kenya Sevens coach Benjamin Ayimba πŸ’₯. The KCB Twitter team themselves escalated the banter by concluding: "It's not the team with the best players that wins. It's the players with the best TEAM that does" Hehe! Ok... The stage is set for the next off- and pre-season activities. Let's just finish with Resolution Impala Saracens vs the same RFC Kabras, at RFUEA Grounds, this Saturday from 4.00pm (if the KRU don't bring it forward slightly to take care of logistics).... It is, however, CLEAR, that if clubs don't invest in very organized pre- and in-season planning, they will be watching the final again, next season 😊