Since first meeting in 1981, Kenya and Zimbabwe have shared some great, memorable moments on the rugby pitch. This rivalry will be reignited on Saturday when the Simbas host the Sables at Nairobi’s RFUEA Ground.
Overall, the two sides have met 19 times with Zimbabwe’s Sables dominating the head to head, posting 12 wins to the Simbas 7. The two most recent tests between the two sides have gone in favor of the Simbas, and with record scores.
Here are five memorable encounters between the two sides.
1 MAY 1985
Kenya 13 Zimbabwe 15
RFUEA Ground, Nairobi
This was the third meeting between the two sides, Zimbabwe having won 32-24 at the same venue four years earlier before posting a 15-12 win in Harare on 27 March 1982. With Kenya leading 13-12 and virtually no time left on the clock, Zimbabwe, who would two years later be Africa’s sole representatives at the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987, won and successfully drilled home a penalty to win the game.
28 SEPTEMBER 2002
Kenya 19 Zimbabwe 12
RFUEA Ground, Nairobi
The two sides were meeting for the first time since the Sables put the Simbas to the sword in a 42-7 Rugby World Cup qualifier at the same venue in 1993. The Benjamin Ayimba captained side finally succeeded where the class of 1985 had fallen agonizingly close, the 19-12 result marking a first ever test victory over the Zimbos.
17 JULY 2010
Zimbabwe 18 Kenya 23
Harare Sports Club, Harare
Trailing 8-18 at the interval, a late second half flourish saw the Simbas beat their hosts 23-18, the first ever win on Zimbabwean soil for the side coached by Michael “Tank” Otieno who played in the 1985 fixture.
6 JULY 2014
Kenya 10 Zimbabwe 27
Mahamasina Stadium, Antananaravivo, Madagascar
This was the 2015 Rugby World Cup qualification competition being played as a round robin tournament in Madagascar. The Simbas had started this competition with a 29-22 win over favorites Namibia before blanking hosts Madagascar 34-0 in their second outing. They went into the final round of matches top of the log and only 80 minutes away from a historic appearance on the global stage in a year’s time.
They needed just the solitary point from this match to reach the finals in England and Wales but their ambitions were cut short by a determined Zimbabwe side beat them 27-10, a sad ending to what had been a promising campaign. The Simbas would eventually finish third, Zimbabwe claiming second place and a chance to qualify via the repechage as Namibia’s 89-10 whitewash of Madagascar earned them an appearance at a fifth successive World Cup.
9 JULY 2016
Zimbabwe 15 Kenya 61
Police Grounds, Harare
Leading 24-15 at half time, the Simbas piled on 37 unanswered second half points to crush hosts Zimbabwe 61-15 in Rugby Africa 1A action at the Police Grounds in Harare on Saturday 9 July 2016, only their second ever win on Zimbabwean soil, a record points haul for the Jerome Paarwater coached side.