|Union||Kenya Rugby Union|
|Head coach||Paul Odera|
|Most caps||Joel Nganga (52)|
|Top scorer||Darwin Mukidza (364)|
|Top try scorer||Darwin Mukidza (17)|
|Home stadium||RFUEA Ground|
|World Rugby ranking|
|Current||32 (as of 23 November 2020)|
|Lowest||51 (2003, 2004)|
|KenyaKenya won Tanganyika |
|Kenya 96–3 Nigeria |
(10 August 1987)
| Namibia 84–12 Kenya|
(27 May 2006)
The Kenya national rugby union team is also known as the Simbas (simba is Swahili for 'lion'). Kenya competes in the Africa Cup and is ranked thirty-second in the World Rugby Rankings as of July 2019.Kenya is yet to qualify for the Rugby World Cup.
The national team is managed by the Kenya Rugby Union. Their home ground is the RFUEA Ground which opened to an East Africa side against the British and Irish Lions in 1955.
Rugby Union was introduced to Kenya at the beginning of the 20th century by British settlers and the first recorded match was in 1909. The game was initially restricted to whites only.
In 1923, the primary club in Kenya, Nairobi District, was split into Nondescripts RFC and Kenya Harlequin F.C., due to the club's overwhelming strength. In the 1950s the first internationals began taking place.Early competitions included the Nairobi District Championships first held in 1925, a Royal Armed Forces tournament first held in 1937 and the Enterprise Cup which has been in existence since 1930.
Kenya played host to touring sides between the 1920s and the 1950s; notably including University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University and a Combined Universities (Oxford and Cambridge) team at Mitchell Park Stadium in 1951.
By 1953, the Rugby Football Union of East Africa was formed to oversee rugby in the three East African colonies of Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika. A Kenya Colony team played a Tanganyika team for the first time in 1954 and a Uganda Protectorate team in 1958 with the Kenyan representative side winning 21–11. Often, the Kenyan side was combined with other East African nations, and composed of players of European ethnicity. While the results were often lopsided, these games provided a huge amount of revenue for rugby in Kenya, and were incredibly beneficial. Kenya, as an independent side, played its first game against Tanganyika, proving to be victorious.
Post-independence, the desegregation of the Kenyan school system meant that indigenous black Africans' featured in the rugby sides of elite schools such as Duke of York and Prince of Wales. Players such as Chris Onsotti, John Gichinga, Dennis Awori, George Kariuki and Jim Owino would form the first generation of indigenous black African rugby players.
In 1972, Ted Kabetu became the first indigenous black Kenyan to play for the East Africa Tuskers in a match against Richmond RFC. That same year, the Tuskers toured Ireland, playing Irish club sides, achieving moderate success and winning 3 out of their 8 tests; Chris Onsotti became the first forward black Tusker playing at prop on the Fourth Tuskers Tour of Ireland in 1972; and Jackson "Jacko" Omaido a school boy at Lenana School (formerly Duke of York) represented the Tuskers playing at fly-half at a 1975 tour of Zambia.
An influx of players from Tanganyika due to a flight of expatriates would boost the Kenyan game. During the early 1970s, a number of English clubs began touring Kenya, playing unofficial test matches against the Tuskers. This included Harlequins RFC nearly being beaten, only for the Tuskers to lose 20–15.
After an invitation in the local dailies to black African rugby players, Miro RFC was formed as an invitational side; rather like the Barbarians or local equivalents, Scorpions RFC. Miro were an all black African side and included two white players (Doug Hamilton and Pat Orr); considered to have played an important role in bringing black Africans into rugby in Kenya. The team played Rugby Roma Olimpic in 1976, winning 20–12. However, the side was disbanded over questions of the racial selection of players.
The Tuskers, by the mid 1970s being fully integrated with both black and whites, faced Zambia, winning 4 tests out of 5. Around this time, some clubs began folding due to the flight of white expatriate players. Despite the growth, conflicts emerged between the black Kenyan players and the many clubs which were still run by expatriates; Miro RFC played again in 1979, this time recording triumph against Blackheath F.C. 32–19, providing major hope for black African rugby.
Mean Machine RFC and Mwamba RFC both founded in 1977 as indigenous African rugby sides. Mean Machine, a representative side of the University of Nairobi featuring Absalom "Bimbo" Mutere, Thomas Onyango Oketch and football international Joe "JJ" Masiga were notable for winning the Kenya Cup on their first attempt. Black Blad RFC representing Kenyatta University College would follow thereafter. Mean Machine were however disbanded as a result of the closure of Nairobi University after the failed coup of 1982.
Miro RFC continued to play, but lost to the Metropolitan Police club of London 40–9, a side that was described as "makeshift". Around this time, the Tuskers played their last tour in 1982, defeating Zimbabwe and Zambia. The 1980s also saw the introduction of the sevens game. However, the 1980s also saw a decline in the national side; for example, during a qualifier play-off against Zimbabwe, Kenya lost all three of their matches; by the end of the 1980s, Kenya lost to Zimbabwe 56–9.
Kenya had firmly established stability in its domestic scene, with the game being picked up by the natives, and a league being established. During the 2000s Kenya began to start experiencing success again at the international level, finally being able to consistently record victories against sides such as Zimbabwe and Uganda.
For the 2007 Rugby World Cup qualifiers, the team defeated both Tunisia and Namibia at home, only to lose their away legs.
The team again failed to qualify for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, losing to Tunisia. In 2011, Kenya won the Africa Cup, beating Tunisia in the final 16–7 after both Morocco and Namibia withdrew due to financial constraints; the following season saw Kenya regress and struggle against Uganda and Zimbabwe, only defeating Tunisia to avoid relegation. The 2013 season proved to be a pivotal moment in Kenyan rugby, as they beat both Uganda and Zimbabwe, winning the Africa Cup for the second time, and the first time in a full four team pool.
The Kenyan national team competed in the South African domestic Vodacom Cup competition in 2014, playing as the Simba XV. The Simba XV were based in Cape Town for the duration of the competition and won their opening match, beating the Eastern Province Kings 17–10.However, they lost their remaining six matches to finish in seventh spot in the Southern Section.
The preparation aided in the 2014 Africa Cup with Kenya earning victory over both Madagascar and Namibia. A loss to Zimbabwe on match day three resulted in a third-place finish on points difference and Kenya failing to qualify for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. In May 2015, Kenya played a European team for the first time since the East Africa sides of the 1970s and 1980s, defeating Portugal 41–15 in a test match at the RFUEA Ground.
In 2016, the Kenya Rugby Union announced a sponsorship deal with betting firm Sportpesa, to a deal worth up to 607 million KES; this is the most lucrative sponsorship deal in Kenyan rugby history, and figures not only to fund 7s and men's XVs, but the women's and youth game as well.In September of that year, the KRU formally applied to be included in the South African Currie Cup.
Men's World Rugby Rankings
|Top 30 rankings as of 12 July, 2021|
|*Change from the previous week|
Overall record of the Kenyan national team up to date as of 12 July 2021.
|United Arab Emirates||1||1||0||0||100.00||55||17||+38|
|World Cup record||World Cup Qualification record|
|1991||Did not enter||Did not enter|
|1995||Did not qualify||3||1||0||2||40||125|
|1999||Did not qualify||2||1||0||1||42||70|
|2003||Did not qualify||2||1||0||1||60||42|
|2007||Did not qualify||6||3||1||2||111||191|
|2011||Did not qualify||2||1||0||1||91||52|
|2015||Did not qualify||5||4||0||1||153||178|
|2019||Did not qualify||13||7||1||5||474||420|
Kenyan 30-man squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup Repechage:
Kenya competes annually against Uganda for the Elgon Cup, as well as competing for the Africa Cup. For the 2018 series, the Africa Cup fixture between Kenya and Uganda will double up as the second leg of the Elgon Cup.
|26 May 2018||Uganda||16 – 34||Kenya||Legends Rugby Grounds, Kampala|
|16:00 EAT (UTC+03)||Try: Mugerwa|
Con: P. Wokorach
Pen: Magomu (3/3)
|Report||Try: Ojee |
Con: Mukidza (3/5)
Pen: Mukidza (1/1)
|Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)|
|23 June 2018||Morocco||24 – 28||Kenya||Stade du C.O.C., Casablanca|
|17:00 WEST (UTC+01)||Try: Idrissi 11' m|
Boukanoucha 28' m
Arabat 48' c
Nassik 71' c
Con: Chakir (1/3) 49'
Brichet (1/1) 72'
|Report||Try: Adema 3' c|
Onyango 51' c, 65' c
Con: Darwin Mukidza (4/4) 4', 52', 58', 65
Referee: Sebastien Minery (France)
|30 June 2018||Kenya||45 – 36||Zimbabwe||RFUEA Ground, Nairobi|
|15:00 EAT (UTC+03)||Try: Chenge 4', 13', 17' c|
Onyango 20' m
Penalty Try 36'
Owilla 79' m
Chituyi 80+2' c
Con: Mukidza (4/6) 5', 14', 19', 80+3
|Report||Try: Parirenyatwa 10' m|
Mutamangira 26' c
Makanda 40+4' m
Mudariki 41' m
Penalty Try 45'
McNab 54' c
Con: Tambwera (2/5) 28', 55'
Referee: Tual Trainini (France)
|7 July 2018||Kenya||38 – 22||Uganda||RFUEA Ground, Nairobi|
|15:00 EAT (UTC+03)||Try: Ojee 6' c|
Chenge 20' c
Onsomu 28' c
Ayange 36' c
Amusala 80+1' c
Con: Mukidza (5/5) 8', 21', 29', 37', 80+2'
Pen: Mukidza (1/1) 49'
|Report||Try: Wokorach 14' m, 71' m|
Magomu 45' c
Okorach 62' m
Con: Wokorach 46'
Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
|11 August 2018||Kenya||67 – 0||Tunisia||RFUEA Ground, Nairobi|
|14:00 EAT (UTC+03)||Try: Ambaka 5' c, 79' m|
Chenge 21' c
Chogo 23' c
Ojee 27' c
Musonye 31' c
Mukidza 36' m
Owilla 41' m
Karia 55' m
Omollo 66' c
Opondo 74' m
Con: Mukidza (5/6) 6', 21', 24', 28', 32
Omollo (1/4) 67'
Referee: Julien Castaignede (France)
|18 August 2018||Namibia||53 – 28||Kenya||Hage Geingob Rugby Stadium|
|16:00 WAT (UTC+01)||Try: Botha 24' c, 71' c|
Westhuizen 27' c, 42' c
Loubser 34' m
Tjeriko 57' c
Penalty Try 62'
Con: Loubser (5/6) 25', 28', 43', 59', 72'
Pen: Loubser (2/2) 5', 52'
|Report||Try: Ambaka 13' c, 55' c|
Onsando 66' c
Omollo 74' c
Con: Mukidza (4/4) 15', 56', 67', 75'
Referee: Egon Seconds (South Africa)
|11 November 2018||Canada||65 – 19||Kenya||Pierre-Delort Stadium, Marseille|
|13:00 CET(UTC+01)||Try: van der Merwe (3) 9' c, 29' m, 76' c|
Beukeboom (2) 12' m, 61' c
Sauder (2) 39' c, 54' m
Ardron 50' c
Sheppard 69' c
Evans 70' m
Con: McRorie (5/9) 10', 40', 51', 62', 69'
Sauder (1/1) 77'
Pen: McRorie (1/1) 2'
|Report||Try: Onyango 17' m|
Owade 32' c
Nyambua 43' c
Con: Mukidza (1/2) 43'
Oliech (1/1) 32'
|Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)|
|17 November 2018||Hong Kong||42 – 17||Kenya||Pierre-Delort Stadium, Marseille|
|14:00 CET(UTC+01)||Try: Denmark 29' c|
Hewson 49' c
Fenn 54' c
Lamboley (2) 64' c, 70' c
Warner 81' c
Con: Rimene (4/4) 30', 50', 55', 65'
Rosslee (2/2) 71', 83'
|Try: Opondo (2) 16' c, 57' m|
Musonye 22' m
Con: Oliech (1/3) 17'
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
|23 November 2018||Kenya||6 – 43||Germany||Pierre-Delort Stadium, Marseille|
|18:00 CET(UTC+01)||Try: Oliech (2/3) 2', 38'||Try: Ferreira 22'c, 58'c, 70'c|
Con: Parkinson (5/7) 22', 46', 52', 71', 80+1'
|Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)|
|2017 Test Matches|
Hong Kong Cup of Nations
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