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The Kenya Fifteens management led by Paul Odera and Mike Aung has been working on a Kenya Rugby specific playing manual for the last five years and its discussions have begun, starting with the Kenya Cup coaches.

The idea, which is an amalgamation of the intellectual capacity of the whole management team, first came to Mike Aung and I in 2015. We saw how Namibia and Zimbabwe were operating in the final of the Barthes cup in Harare and we decided that a manual would be a good start for us to get to Namibia and Zimbabwe’s level,” said Odera.

With every sporting activity brought to a halt due to the covid19 pandemic, the Kenya XVs Technical Team has rolled out the manual with hopes that its contents will be employed by the clubs once we go back to sporting normalcy. The discussions are being conducted via zoom meetings weekly.

The manual covers Strength and Conditioning (S & C), Medical, Mental skills, Defense, Attack, Forward play, Backline play, general skills, management and will soon include a match officials section. Odera intends to use the manual for the duration of his tenure as Simbas’ head coach. “However, what is important is that we keep reviewing it constantly so that it evolves and adapts not only to our Kenyan environment but to the international environment as well,” he added.

The manual addresses our lack of a distinctive style of play as a Nation and to get to the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, we need one. “This style needs to incorporate our racial, ethnic, and social diversity. It needs to recognize the limited resources we have and maximize our physical athletic ability. Since our age-grade programs are still in the development stage, we need to start with our national teams and clubs. If we can define our style of play at schools, clubs, and national teams- then it will help the Simbas play better.”

Oscar Simiyu fends off Aaron Ofoywroth during the 2019 Elgon Cup match at the ASK Mamboleo Showgrounds on 22nd June. PHOTO/EMMANUEL AHENDA

The feedback from the involved coaches has been highly encouraging as they are very candid and extremely specific in their criticism and praise. This means that they are interested in supporting this initiative. As it stands, the Simbas Management is meeting once a week with the Kenya Cup coaches to discuss the manual which serves as the blueprint Odera and team have been using for the last year with the National 15s teams

Kenya’s road to the world cup in 2023 needs the input of the coaches in Kenya. The Kenya Cup coaches are an integral part of the plan for us to reach the world cup for the first time. The manual will be a much richer and effective document with the input of those who deal with the players on a regular basis. If my successor can also build on this document, Kenya rugby will continue on the right trajectory. Regardless of who is at the helm of the Simbas they must work with the club coaches in Kenya,” he said in closing.

I would like to congratulate the Kenya Simbas Management lead by Paul Odera for the great initiative of coming up with a 15’s manual and sharing it with coaches, it’s a step in the right direction. It has clear guidelines on how the Simbas want to play and this gives clear guidelines to us coaches on what expectations the national team management has for us in order to prepare our players for the international stage. We’ve had three informative sessions so far where the Technical bench presented the Manual and given us an opportunity to go through it and give feedback,” said Menengai Oilers Coach Gibson Weru

“The same information once shared with our players builds them and it shapes their style of play as they will be on the know about selection criteria and parameters being looked at. It’s a wonderful idea as we can reason together and settle on the best way for the development of the teams and tech bench,” added Blakblad’s coach Motto Williams

Director of Rugby Thomas Odundo commended the team on this step towards bettering the growth of our rugby. “For years a lot of conversations have been had about Kenyan Rugby, our “style” of play, and if we can get a consensus on this and implement it across the board. Whilst this is not an attempt to put all that in place, it surely is a start to more conversations with a defined and identifiable direction. That the current 15s program is documented with a process and deliverables guide those conversations and it is my sincere hope that this is what we will have.”


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