Enterprise Cup

Last updated
Enterprise Cup
Current season or competition:
Rugby football current event.svg 2015 Enterprise Cup
Enterprise cup 2014 logo.jpg
Sport Rugby union
Formerly known asEast Africa Inter-District Championship
Inaugural season1930
Nations Flag of Kenya (1921-1963).svg Kenya Colony (1930–1963)
Flag of Kenya.svg  Kenya (1964–present) [e]
Flag of Tanganyika (1923-1961).svg Flag of Tanganyika (1961-1964).svg  Tanganyika (1930–1963)
Flag of Tanzania.svg  Tanzania (1964–2009) [e]
Flag of the Uganda Protectorate.svg Uganda Protectorate (1930–1963)
Flag of Uganda.svg  Uganda (1964–2009) [e]
Holders Flag of Kenya.svg Kenya Commercial Bank RFC (2015)
Most titles Flag of Kenya (1921-1963).svg Flag of Kenya.svg Nondescripts RFC (Including 1 shared, 25 titles)
Related competition Mwamba Cup

The Enterprise Cup is an annual rugby union competition in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, though the competition frequently has the appearance of being an all-Kenyan affair as the majority of rugby clubs in the African Great Lakes region are based in this one country and frequently clubs in Tanzania and Uganda are unable to take part due to financial constraints. [1] The original cup was donated by sailors from HMS Enterprise, who had toured British East Africa in 1928. [2] The only years in which the competition has not been played is between 1940–1946 due to World War II and in 1987 because an international rugby competition was held on RFUEA Ground as part of the All Africa Games.



Donation of the Cup to the Rugby Football Union of Kenya (RFUK) [a]

HMS Enterprise HMS Enterprise WWII IWM FL 005389.jpg
HMS Enterprise

HMS Enterprise was launched on 23 December 1919, and commissioned on 7 April 1926. At the end of her first commission with the 4th British Cruiser Squadron on the East Indies station she was ordered home via Mauritius and the main ports of East Africa. She pulled into Kilindini Harbour ten days before the arrival of Edward, Prince of Wales and his younger brother the Duke of Gloucester on SS Malda who had arrived in British East Africa to undertake a semi-official visit to Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika, to participate in some big-game hunting and to enjoy the infamous delights of the Happy Valley set. [b] A launch from Enterprise ferried the royal party ashore and over the next 36 hours the senior officers were invited to participate in various functions before the departure of the two princes for Nairobi the next evening on the overnight train.

The rugby team from HMS Enterprise, composed of 30 officers and men, then departed for a two-week tour of Kenya and Uganda playing Nakuru RFC, Kitale RFC, Kampala RFC, a combined Kericho/Londiani XV, a combined Thika/Ruiru XV, and the Mombasa Sports Club. In addition, several members of this body of men participated in a boxing tournament (Royal Navy versus Kenya) in Nairobi towards the end of the tour. Harold E. Stevens, Chaplain of HMS Enterprise and tour manager, offered to the RFUK, on behalf of the ships company, a silver trophy to be awarded annually to the winners of an Inter-district Championship. Rugby Union at this time was a fiercely amateur affair and rugby in Kenya was particularly so. Consequently, the offer was firmly but politely refused. HMS Enterprise left Mombasa and sailed to Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam and Tanga, playing a total of four more matches in these three ports, thus completing the first rugby tour of all three African Great Lakes nations by a Royal Naval vessel. She turned north and steamed for home via Aden (where her rugby team beat the local RAF XV but were defeated by the South Wales Borderers) and Port Suez.

Two hours out of Aden, however, she received orders to return to pick up the Prince of Wales from Dar es Salaam and carry him to Brindisi with all possible speed. His father, the then King George V, was seriously ill; astonishingly, this is not the only time that the heir to the British throne would receive news concerning the health of the monarch whilst they were visiting Kenya, Princess Elizabeth learned that she had become queen whilst staying at Treetops on 6 February 1952. The prince had been informed of the condition of his father while in northern Tanganyika as the guest of Baron and Baroness Blixen, Denys Finch Hatton and Alan Lascelles and had travelled to the coast on a hastily arranged express train. He boarded Enterprise on 2 December and she made a record passage of the 4,087 miles to Brindisi in eight days. The prince travelled onward to Bolougne by another special train, provided this time by the Italian government, and arrived at Buckingham Palace only nine days after leaving Dar es Salaam.

In East Africa we made rugger history by our up-country tour, being the first Naval team to venture so far into the heart of Darkest Africa. The rugger at times suffered from the effects of travelling and hospitality, but if our visit is not memorable for the number of our wins, we hope it will be remembered when the various districts come to play for the cup which we presented.

Harold E. Stevens, Chaplain of HMS Enterprise and tour manager

As this epic voyage was taking place, a parcel arrived at the headquarters of the Rugby Football Union of Kenya, [a] containing a silver goblet. The officers and men of the Enterprise had made the most of the opportunity provided by their return to the African continent and had bought, inscribed and dispatched this trophy to Nairobi. The corinthian RFUK were thrown into turmoil, they wrote to thank the crew of Enterprise, yet still felt honour-bound to seek approval, in December 1928, from the Rugby Football Union in London and the South African Rugby Board of their plans to retain the trophy and to award it annually to the winners of an Inter-District championship. This cup has become central to rugby competition in the African Great Lakes and has been played for every year since with the exception of the war years (1940–1946) and 1987 when an international rugby competition was held on the RFUEA Ground as part of the All Africa Games.

The Annual Gymkhana

In 1929 the RFUK created a sub-committee to determine how best to go about initiating an Inter-district Championship, the problems of the distance between clubs and the poor transport links were, and still are, a major feature of rugby in the African Great Lakes region. They decided to make the most of a pre-existing Rugby Gymkhana (or Rugby Weekend), where once a year the clubs of Kenya came together to play some matches and to enjoy peripheral social and other activities. This weekend usually took place at Parklands Sports Club (the then home of Nondescripts RFC) in Nairobi which was both central and could guarantee more paying spectators than the smaller towns in the other districts. The proposed competition for 1929 failed to materialise, so the next year the RFUK agreed to subsidise the teams travel costs. As a result, the Enterprise Cup was first awarded to Nairobi district in 1930, coincidentally the year that HMS Enterprise made her second and final visit to Kenya.

The gymkhana had always been the highlight of the rugby calendar in the African Great Lakes, and the new Inter-District Championship further elevated its popularity. Two semi-finals were played on the Saturday and the final on Sunday with entertainment and dancing in the evenings. For this reason the halves were limited to 30 minutes (rather than the usual 40) in the semi-finals and 35 minutes in the final, with extra time in the event of a tie limited to 5 minutes each way. The trophy was presented to the winning captain immediately after the match.

Early competitions

The countries from which the clubs that participate in the Enterprise Cup come Enterprise Cup Countries.png
The countries from which the clubs that participate in the Enterprise Cup come

As had been requested by the crew of the ship that had presented the trophy, the competition was an inter-territorial one between four teams, Nairobi District (comprising the Nairobi clubs, Thika and Ruiru), Coast District (Mombasa Sports Club), Plateau District (Kitale and Eldoret) and Rift Valley District (Nakuru, Kericho and Londiani).

Nairobi had by far the greatest population and it seems that they were able to produce much the strongest team so it seems that the Nairobi district was divided the next year as the winners were "Nairobi North" in 1931. [3] In 1932 Nairobi was sub-divided into three zones (Muthaiga/Kabete, Parklands and Town/Hill) and players were selected based upon where they lived. The other districts in that competition were Eldoret, Kitale, Mombasa, Ruiru and Nakuru; a total of eight. A preliminary game was played against the nearest neighbouring district and the four semi-finalists assembled in Nairobi at the annual gymkhana. 20% of the RFUK's budget (including all gate receipts from the gymkhana) were used to subsidise the travel costs that year. Additionally, the unwieldy Inter-District Championship name had become The Enterprise Cup.

Some players in Nairobi had found difficulty in putting aside their club loyalties so in 1933 the suggestion was made that the teams from Nairobi district should, as essentially was the case in every other district, be "clubs representing districts". A good suggestion that bore the test of time, though Nairobi was remarkably unsuccessful that year, the semi-finals on August 4 were Ruiru versus Mombasa and Eldoret versus Naivasha. The status quo was maintained with this same structure surviving until 1952, though discussion and debate continued.

The competition was stimulating rugby in British East Africa such that by 1937 there were 16 competing teams (Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Eldoret, Kakamega, Kitale, Muthaiga Country Club, Mombasa Sports Club, Naivasha, Nanyuki, Nakuru RFC, Nondescripts RFC, Nyeri, Old Cambrians, Ruiru, Tanga and Thika) and several hundred people watched the semi-finals (Eldoret v Nakuru and Nondescripts v Arusha) and the final, where Nondescripts defeated Eldoret. In 1938, the same four teams reached the semi-finals with the same results, though Eldoret prevailed over Nondescripts in the final. Nondescripts had beaten Muthaiga RFC during the Nairobi knockout stages, the latter club folded the next year.

In 1939, the Uganda Kobs RFC took part in the competition for the first time and were unlucky not to make the semi-finals, being beaten by the eventual winners, Eldoret, 8 points to 6. The competition was suspended for the ensuing seven years due to the war, resuming in 1947. In 1951 13 teams entered the competition; in Central Zone there was Nondescripts RFC, the Railway Club, Army, Old Cambrians and Ruiru/Thika combined, Eastern Zone consisted of Mackinnon Road, Mombasa and Northern Tanganyika (Arusha) and the Western Zone included Kitale, Eldoret, Nakuru RFC, Kericho and Uganda Kobs RFC.

In 1952 and 1953, the original district format was resurrected for two years and during this time the Enterprise Cup left the Highlands for the first time being won by Coast Province.

Coming of age

Despite this apparent leveling of the field, the competition returned to the clubs representing districts in 1954. The only difference being that West Kenya and Uganda produce a finalist between them while East Kenya, Coast and Northern Tanganyika produce the other. This system proved successful lasting eight years until it was adjusted in 1960 such that there were four geographic zones (Uganda, West Kenya, Central Province and Coast/Tanganyika) that were each responsible for producing a semi-finalist. A Western Zone finalist was produced by a semi-final between Uganda and West Kenya, while the Eastern Zone finalist was the winner of a match between Central Province and Coast/Tanganyika.

2015-16 Teams [4]

For the 2016 tournament, twelve teams have been drawn in a knock out competition. The semi-finalists from the 2015 competition have been given byes to the quarter final stage.

Pre-Quarter Finals

Blak Blad RFC v Mean Machine RFC

Nondescripts v Top Fry Nakuru

Kabras Sugar v Kenya Harlequin

Mwamba v Western Bulls

Winners of the Enterprise Cup [c]

1930Inter-DistrictNairobi District
1931Inter-District (Nairobi divided)Nairobi North [3] [5] [d]
1932Inter-District (Nairobi divided)West Kenya (Eldoret RFC)
1933Clubs representing Districts Eldoret RFC
Ruiru RFC
1934Clubs representing Districts Eldoret RFC
6-3 –
Kisumu RFC
1935Clubs representing Districts Eldoret RFC
9-0 –
Arusha RFC
1936Clubs representing Districts Eldoret RFC
14-5 –
1937Clubs representing Districts Nondescripts RFC
Eldoret RFC
1938Clubs representing Districts Nondescripts RFC
Eldoret RFC
1939Clubs representing Districts Eldoret RFC
Nondescripts RFC
Competition suspended due to World War II
1947Clubs representing Districts Eldoret RFC
Nondescripts RFC
1948Clubs representing Districts Nakuru RFC
1949Clubs representing Districts Nondescripts RFC
Eldoret RFC
1950Clubs representing Districts Nondescripts RFC
1951Clubs representing Districts Nondescripts RFC
1952Inter-DistrictCoast Province
1953Inter-DistrictWest Kenya
1954Clubs representing Districts with Zone semi-finals Nondescripts RFC
Eldoret RFC
1955Clubs representing Districts with Zone semi-finals Kenya Harlequin F.C.
Nondescripts RFC
1956Clubs representing Districts with Zone semi-finals Kampala RFC
Kenya Harlequin F.C.
1957Clubs representing Districts with Zone semi-finals Kenya Harlequin F.C.
Kitale RFC [5]
1958Clubs representing Districts with Zone semi-finals Nakuru RFC
Kenya Police RFC
1959Clubs representing Districts with Zone semi-finals Kenya Police RFC
1960Clubs representing Districts with Zone quarter-finals Nakuru RFC
1961Clubs representing Districts with Zone quarter-finals Impala RFC
Nakuru RFC [6]
1962Clubs representing Districts with Zone quarter-finals Nakuru RFC
Nondescripts RFC [7]
1963Clubs representing Districts with Zone quarter-finals Nakuru RFC
Impala RFC [8]
1964Clubs representing Districts with Zone quarter-finals Kenya Harlequin F.C.
1965Clubs representing Districts with Zone quarter-finals Impala RFC
Kampala RFC
1966Clubs representing Districts with Zone quarter-finals Nondescripts RFC
1967Clubs representing Districts with Zone quarter-finals Kitale RFC
1968Clubs representing Districts with Zone quarter-finals Kampala RFC
1969Clubs representing Districts with Zone quarter-finals Kampala RFC
Kenya Harlequin F.C.
1970Clubs representing Districts with Zone quarter-finals Kampala RFC
1971Clubs representing Districts with Zone quarter-finals Impala RFC
Nondescripts RFC
1972Clubs representing Districts with Zone quarter-finals Impala RFC
1973Inter-club knockout Impala RFC
Nondescripts RFC
1974Inter-club knockout Impala RFC
Kenya Harlequin F.C.
1975Inter-club knockout Nondescripts RFC
Impala RFC
1976Inter-club knockout Nondescripts RFC
1977Inter-club knockout Nondescripts RFC
1978Inter-club knockout Nondescripts RFC
1979Inter-club knockout Nondescripts RFC
1980Inter-club knockout Nondescripts RFC
Mwamba RFC
1981Inter-club knockout Nondescripts RFC
Mwamba RFC
1982Inter-club knockout Nondescripts RFC
1983Inter-club knockout Nondescripts RFC
1984Inter-club knockout Nondescripts RFC
1985Inter-club knockout Mwamba RFC
Barclays RFC
1986Inter-club knockout Mwamba RFC
No competition due to 1987 All Africa Games
1988Inter-club knockout Kenya Harlequin F.C.
Mwamba RFC [9]
1989Inter-club knockout Nondescripts RFC
1990Inter-club knockout Nondescripts RFC
Barclays Bank RFC
1991Inter-club knockout Nondescripts RFC
Mwamba RFC
1992Inter-club knockout Nondescripts RFC
Mean Machine RFC [10]
1993Inter-club knockout Nondescripts RFC
1994Inter-club knockout Nondescripts RFC
1995Inter-club knockout Kenya Harlequin F.C.
1996Inter-club knockout
shared between
Kenya Harlequin F.C. and
Nondescripts RFC
12–12 [11]
1997Inter-club knockout Mombasa Sports Club
Nondescripts RFC [11]
1998Inter-club knockout Nondescripts RFC
1999Inter-club knockout Kenya Harlequin F.C.
Mean Machine RFC (University of Nairobi) [11]
2000Inter-club knockout Impala RFC
Nondescripts RFC [12]
2001Inter-club knockout Impala RFC
2002Inter-club knockout Impala RFC
2003Inter-club knockout
shared between
Kenya Harlequin F.C. and
Impala RFC [13]
2004Inter-club knockout Kenya Commercial Bank RFC
Impala RFC [14]
2005Inter-club knockout Impala RFC
Mwamba RFC
2006Inter-club knockout Mwamba RFC
Kenya Harlequin F.C.
2007Inter-club knockout Kenya Commercial Bank RFC
Mean Machine RFC [15]
2008Inter-club knockout Nakuru RFC
Mwamba RFC [16]
2009Inter-club knockout Kenya Harlequin F.C.
Impala RFC [17] [18]
No competition due to restructuring of the Kenya rugby calendar
2011Inter-club knockout Kenya Harlequin F.C.
Impala RFC [19]
2012Inter-club knockout Kenya Commercial Bank RFC
2013 Inter-club knockout Mwamba RFC
Nakuru RFC [20]
2014 Inter-club knockout Nakuru RFC
Kenya Commercial Bank RFC [21]
2015 Inter-club knockout Kenya Commercial Bank RFC
Homeboyz RFC [22]
2016 Inter-club knockout


a. ^ The RFU-K was dissolved in 1953 with the formation of the Rugby Football Union of East Africa (RFUEA); the current Kenya Rugby Football Union (KRFU) was not formed until 1970.

b. ^ Among rich English settlers in Kenya's Happy Valley between the wars, cocaine, according to Sir Derek Erskine, was taken like snuff. While attending a dinner party with the Prince of Wales in 1928, Erskine saw another guest being physically removed from the room. When Erskine asked what had happened, he was told, "Well, there is a limit, even in Kenya, and when someone offers cocaine to the Heir to the Throne, something has to be done about it, particularly when it is between courses at the dinner table." White Mischief , book (and later film) written by James Fox.

c. ^ Winners for all matches 1930–2005 have been collected from The Enterprise Cup 1930–2005 (seventy five years of sporting achievement) pp. 50–51, taking into account the included errata that correct mistakes in the first publication. Runners up and scores for these years have been elucidated from text in this book and in Rugby Football in East Africa 1909–1959. Other finalists and scores have individual citations.

d. ^ There appears to be an error in The Enterprise Cup 1930–2005 (seventy five years of sporting achievement) pp. 50–51. Rugby Football in East Africa 1909–1959 and Programme of Fifth Tuskers tour of Zambia 1975 list the 1931 winners as "Nairobi North", not "Nairobi".

e. ^ In 2009 no teams from Tanzania or Uganda have entered the competition, not because they have been excluded but due to funding problems. [23]

f. ^ Awarded by default when Harlequins, Impala and Nondescripts refused to play the semi-finals without their international players.

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  3. 1 2 Programme of Fifth Tuskers tour of Zambia. Rugby Football Union of East Africa. 1975.
  4. "Enterprise Cup Draw Released - Kenya Rugby Union KRU". www.kru.co.ke. Archived from the original on 2016-05-02. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
  5. 1 2 Campbell, M; Cohen, E.J. (1960). Rugby Football in East Africa 1909–1959. Rugby Football Union of East Africa. p. 99.
  6. RFUEA Executive Committee Report For The Year 1961
  7. RFUEA Executive Committee Report For The Year 1962
  8. RFUEA Executive Committee Report For The Year 1963
  9. Herbert Mwachiro (August 15, 2006). "Kenya Harlequins Update 15/08" . Retrieved 13 June 2010.
  10. Tito Okuku and AJ Adholla Onyango (2009). "Mean Machine The M-Net Era 1992–1996". Archived from the original on 6 September 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
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  12. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-11-19. Retrieved 2010-07-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. Oscar Pilipili (5 October 2003). "Impala, Quins Draw to Share Enterprise Cup". The East African Standard (Nairobi). Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  14. The Lions Den (20 August 2008). "KCB vs Impala factfile" . Retrieved 11 June 2010.
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  16. The Punter (28 September 2008). "Years of toil paying for Nakuru". Daily Nation. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
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  19. Daily Nation, March 25, 2011: Youngsters fire Quins to imperious double
  20. Kenya Rugby Football Union April 6, 2013: Mwamba reclaim Enterprise Cup after Seven Years
  21. Kenya Rugby Football Union April 5, 2014: Nakuru claim sixth Enterprise Cup title
  22. Kenya Rugby Football Union April 19, 2015: KCB Complete League and Cup Double
  23. Daily Nation September 17, 2009: Enterprise Cup gets all Kenyan as sponsor pulls out

Further reading

White Mischief: The Murder of Lord Erroll, James Fox, Vintage Books, 1998, ISBN   0-394-75687-8