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Octoberfest Rugby Tournamen...

Octoberfest Rugby Tournament Highlighted Women’s Rugby in Kenya

Apart from senior women’s rugby, the tournament also featured age grade competition in the boys’ and girls’ categories

NAIROBI, Kenya, October 8, 2021– The weekend of 2nd and 3rd October saw Nanyuki Sports Club play host to the Octoberfest rugby tournament. First played in 2017, this year’s tournament had a particular focus on senior women’s rugby.

Tournament Co-ordinator Dennis Gem explained the rationale behind this, saying, “This was done with the intention of providing more play time for the girls. I am looking forward to liaising with the Kenya Rugby Union to have it slotted in as one of the legs of the women’s national sevens circuit.”

He also gave a brief history of the tournament, saying, “This tournament traces its roots to 2014 when we used to host a mixed tag rugby tournament in March. We then moved it to October, initially calling it the Moi Day All Girls & Boys 7s. We initially fielded teams of both boys and girls. With rising numbers of girls playing in the tournament, we opted to enter girls’ teams and have them play in their own category.”

Gem also paid tribute to the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK) for their logistical and moral support as well as members of the press for their role in covering the event.

Apart from senior women’s rugby, the tournament also featured age grade competition in the boys’ and girls’ categories.

The senior women’s competition saw Topfry Nakuru, Kenyatta University’s Blad Babes, Ruck IT/Hidden Talent, Nanyuki and Rugby Gem take part while Gilgil, Nakuru, Burguret and as well as four teams sponsored by Lewa Conservancy take part in the U14 boys and girls categories.

This event was also attended by Kenya Rugby Union Director Peris Mukoko whose observations on the event appear below.

This past weekend I attended the Octoberfest Rugby festival held for the very first time in this part of the country (Laikipia County – Central Region) at the Nanyuki Sports club. The two-day event saw well over 200 girls, ladies and boys with ages ranging from 8 years to 20 years take part.

The first day saw a mix of girls and boys take to the field in some exciting games of tag rugby in the u-14 category and 7’s rugby for the ladies.  Enjoyment, fair play and continuity was clearly on display in all matches as the teams tried to outdo each other. It was quite exciting to watch so many young girls and ladies display remarkable skills on the pitch. Two young girls aged 8 & 9, who were holding their own in the girls’ U-14 category, particularly impressed me.  Their confidence with ball in hand and their ability to communicate effectively with girls almost twice their age truly shows that rugby is indeed a sport for all. Even a sudden downpour in the afternoon did not dampen their spirits. They patiently waited and, as soon as it had passed, resumed with the same enthusiasm and energy to cap off a good first day.

Day two was all about7s rugby in the U-20 ladies’ category. There was lots of smooth running, sublime passing and hard tackling. Each team left it all on the pitch as they were all gunning for top spot in the round-robin tournament that had kicked off the previous day. I clearly saw 10-12 young ladies who could potentially play for the national team in 1-2 years’ time.

I must commend Dennis Gem, a passionate advocate for development at the grassroots level, for putting this together. The support the tournament received from BATUK was timely as the tournament was well organized and ran smoothly. They facilitated transport, meals, and accommodation for teams & officials from Kisii, Mombasa, Nakuru and Nairobi. Furthermore, they provided medical services and equipment for the two-day tournament.

I was very happy to see so much rugby over the weekend. I am filled with hope and I am looking forward to seeing these young girls’ rugby journey over the next 10 years when these girls will dawn the national colours as those who came before them have done since Kenya Lionesses first took to the pitch back in 2005.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Kenya Rugby Union (KRU).