2024 Rugby Super Series Coach Oliver Mang'eni (Right) turning up for UAP Papa
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The 2024 Rugby Super Series looks to allow both players and coaches to excel in a high-performance environment. The caliber of coaches selected is enough testament to this. With the likes of Paul Murunga, Lawrence Buyachi, Maxwell Adaka, and Oliver Mang’eni taking charge, the next generation of stars is in safe hands. 

Lineout general Oliver Mang’eni finally called time on his playing career last year. His was an illustrious career that lasted well over a decade. A career complete with almost all titles a rugby player in the country could only dream of. A career that saw him travel all over the continent conquering African teams with the Kenya Simbas. 

It is perhaps this glittering career that saw him develop a burning desire to help create the next crop of lineout generals. He then took up the role of lineout coach for his beloved KCB Rugby Club for the 2023/34 Kenya Cup season. This role saw him work with the likes of Kenya U20 star Andy Cole Omollo and former Kenya U20 star Emmanuel Silungi. 

Mang’eni takes charge of the Lions 

The 2024 Rugby Super Series sees him take up a more starring role. He will be leading a franchise that he played for during his formative rugby years, the Lions. “I played the Rugby Super Series competition twice. First time was for the Lions in the 2012 competition where we lost 19-20 to the Rhinos in the semifinals. The next year I played for UAP Papa under coach Paul Odera. We were also eliminated in the semifinals by eventual winners Ndovu,” says Mangeni. 

Working with players of the caliber of Omollo, Silungi, Chenge and Owilla has opened his coaching eyes to a world full of exciting possibilities. And as the Lions supremo, he is determined to help his players enjoy the competition. 

“I am looking to develop and expose talents. That is my main goal. We want to make memories every time we play. I also want the players to have something to be proud of at the end of it all.”

The importance of the Rugby Super Series cannot be emphasized enough. And just like his Cheetah’s counterpart and former Kenya Simbas teammate Lawrence Buyachi, Mang’eni holds the Series to a very high degree. 

“The Rugby Super Series is a platform that gives the best players in all the clubs a chance to show what they are really made of. It also gives the selectors an avenue to look at different talents and combinations that would work well for the Simbas,” says the former Kenya Simbas lock. 

After unsuccessful Rugby World Cup qualifying campaigns in the past, Mang’eni believes that exposing the current crop of young players to such high-performance environments is key for our next qualification cycle. 

“As Lions, we have already made our selection and most of our players are young and looking to play for next decade. We are headed right into the next World Cup phase. Our target as the Kenya Simbas is to qualify for the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia. Having these young talents compete at an elite level prepares them for international rugby.” concludes Mang’eni. 

Mangeni and the Lions get a chance to kick off their campaign at his beloved KCB Sports Club Ruaraka at 4 pm on Saturday 4 May 2024. They will take on Rhinos, a team coached by another former KCB player, Paul Murunga. 

 

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