Elkeans Musonye during his Rugby Super Series debut with Ndovu Franchise in 2014
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When Kifaru won the 2014 Rugby Super Series, many did not expect it. Theirs was a fairy tale run that nobody saw coming, clinching the title at the expense of some of the more fancied franchises like Ndovu who had won the 2013 title. Ndovu had to settle for bronze against Chui with an 18-11 result. 


Well, that was the last we saw of the Rugby Super Series. However, what many may not remember is that within the Ndovu setup was a young man who had just completed high school and who would go on to become a key player in the Kenya Simbas setup. 


2014 was Elkeans Musonye’s first year out of high school. The man they call Phonto had been part of the all-conquering Barbarians squad that terrorized high school teams across the country and the region. Together with the likes of Alvin Otieno, Dan Abuonji, Bush Mwale and co. Kakamega High School was unstoppable. 


After high school, the rest of his teammates chose to seek pastures anew, most of them traveling to Nairobi to join the likes of Homeboyz Rugby, KCB and even Strathmore Leos. Those whose spirit of adventure did not settle in the big city ended up in the then South Rift town of Nakuru where Nakuru RFC were the dominating side. 


Musonye found a home with the Western Bulls, a side he had played for while he was still a student at the Kakamega High school. At the Bull Ring, he formed a formidable and lethal backrow partnership with Davis Chenge. 


Rugby Super Series debut season

It was through Western Bulls that Musonye got to make his Rugby Super Series with Ndovu, a franchise that brought together players from Nakuru, Nyanza and Western regions. His hard work, positive mind and determination saw him get selected in a team that was littered with Kenya Cup and Enterprise Cup winners. 


Speaking about his experience playing in the Rugby Super Series for Ndovu, He describes it as a mind-blowing and eye-opening experience. “Playing in the 2014 Rugby Super Series was great exposure for me since I had just completed high school. It was a different ball game from the type of rugby I had been accustomed to and I believe it played a huge part in shaping my career and my path to playing for the national team.” 


Nakuru RFC headed into the Rugby Super Series, then, as Enterprise Cup Champions and even though they missed out on the Kenya Cup title, they were still reeling from the excitement of being the first club outside Nairobi to win the country’s most coveted title in 2013 and 2014. Therefore, it was not easy for Musonye to just walk into a team with such a caliber of players. 


“It was difficult (making the squad back then), but it all boiled down to self-belief and individual hunger to make the squad. I had heard stories about the Super Series while I was in school and I was determined to make the squad despite the tough competition,” says Musonye who will now turn up for the Cheetahs in the 2024 edition of the Rugby Super Series. 


It has taken a whole decade for the Rugby Super Series to make a comeback albeit in a condensed but more exciting format. Musonye will be turning out for the Cheetahs, a team that brings together players from Menengai Oilers, Nakuru RFC, Homeboyz Rugby, Impala, Kabarak University and University of Eldoret. The side will have Nakuru as its base. 


What does the return of the Rugby Super Series mean for Musonye? “The Rugby Super Series is one of those environments where players are exposed to the top tier of rugby, especially the young players. The fact that we are coming together as players from different clubs with one common goal kind of gives it a national team feel and this exposes players to a lot of positive things. I am very excited that the competition is back, and I am looking forward to playing next month.” 


The unique composition of franchises in the Rugby Super Series means that the competition provides a high-performance environment for players and technical benches.  With the Cheetahs bringing together six sides, Musonye gives us an insight into the Cheetah’s camp “The mood is alright, we started training a bit early just to get our fitness to the right level. We are simply focusing on getting the fundamentals of the game right. From there we can start getting it right in terms of how we want to play. Everyone is excited to play for the franchise.” 

Playing under former teammates 

Cheetahs Technical Bench is made up of former Nakuru RFC and Ndovu franchise players. Former Nakuru RFC and Kenya Simbas backrow Lawrence “Jogoo” Buyachi is the Head Coach. He is assisted by his former teammates Simon Wariuki (Assistant Coach), Donald Aluoch (Strength and Conditioning Coach) and Geoffrey Ominde (Team Manager). Musonye has played with all of them at different levels of the game and terms playing under them a huge honor. 


So, what is the goal for the Cheetahs in this year’s Rugby Super Series? “We want to build a foundation and get the fundamentals of the game right. We need to know the tempo required to play the Super Series. Our set up has a lot of young players, and we just want to use this as a stepping-stone then take it a notch higher as the competition grows.” 


Musonye is now an established Kenya Simbas player and plays for Kenya Cup side Menengai Oilers. He has previously played for Western Bulls, Strathmore Leos and Impala. The Cheetahs open their Rugby Super Series account against the Buffaloes at 2PM on May 4, 2024. The first leg of the series will be played at the KCB Sports Club. 

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