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Monks pray for miracle against Kabras in Kenya Cup opener



Kabras Sugar Rugby Club, under their new South African coach Carlos Katywa, launch their Kenya Cup defence against returnees Catholic University Monks at Kakamega showground on Saturday.

Kabras Sugar will be without their Kenya Simbas players in one of the six 2022/23 Kenya Cup matches that will be played at various grounds around the country.

Unlike Kabras Sugar, former champions KCB Rugby are leaving nothing to chance and will field their Kenya Simbas players against visiting Kenya Harlequin at KCB Sports Club, Ruaraka.

The bankers will be facing their former forward player, Paul “Pau” Murunga, who will be handling Quins this season for the first time.

Gibson Weru’s Menengai Oilers host three times Kenya Cup champions Mean Machine from University of Nairobi at Nakuru Showground.

The Oilers reached the Kenya Cup final for the first time, having stunned KCB 24-14 in the semi-finals last season.

Machine, who won the Kenya Cup in 1977, 1989 and 1990, makes a return after their last appearance in the 2018/19 season. 

It will be a battle of the varsities when Strathmore Leos host Masinde Muliro at Strathmore University ground while Mwamba have a date with Homeboyz at RFUEA ground.

Kenyatta University will be a battle ground between hosts Blak Blad and visiting Nakuru Rugby Club.

Kabras will be without their Kenya Simbas players as they start their campaign for their third title.

Kabras recaptured the title they won last in 2016 when they edged out Menengai Oilers 34-28 in the final at the Bullring, Kakamega on March 12 this year.

The Monks beat Shamas Foundation 9-5 in Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) Championship semi-finals on March 19 to return to the top flight rugby league for the first time since the 2014/15 season.

Kabras forwards, captain Dan Sikuta, George Nyambua, Teddy Akala and Eugene Sifuna, who were with Kenya Simbas at the just concluded 2023 Rugby World Cup Final qualification in France, will not feature against Monks.

Katywa acknowledged that he will be under pressure to deliver victory at “The Forest”, having succeeded Jerome Muller, who guided the team to their second Kenya Cup title last season.

Katywa was the forwards coach under Muller, who had handled the side for two seasons.

“I will be naïve to say that I won’t be under pressure. Pressure will always be there especially when handling a team of Kabras’ caliber,” said Katywa. “I have been with them for a season and I understand what needs to be done.”

Katywa said that he will focus on rebuilding the team as the new management takes charge at Kabras Sugar. “Our forwards are aging with an average age of 29. It’s a process many will object but bold steps have to be taken,” said Katywa.

Monks coach Simon Jawichre said his charges are ready for the big boys as he promised a good show in Kakamega, having always trained with Kabras Sugar during their pre-season preparations.

“As much as it will be a hard outing we thank Kabras technical team who spent time with us to assimilate and lighten our load,” said Jawichre, who has retained most of his players.

The only new players at Monks’ line up are number eight Samuel Owino and centre Patrick Ochieng, who is back after a season with Strathmore University.

Scrum-half Samuel Asati and fullback Darwin Mukidza are in KCB’s starting lineup, right from Kenya Simbas’ assignment alongside forwards Martin Owilla and Patrick Ouko, who will come off the bench.

KCB relinquished the Kenya Cup title to Kabras after winning it four times in a row.

Kenya Cup (all matches start at 4pm)

Kabras Sugar v Catholic Monks (Kakamega Showground)

Menengai Oilers v Mean Machine (Nakuru Showground)

KCB v Kenya Harlequin (KCB Sports Club)

Strathmore Leos v Masinde Muliro (Strathmore University)

Mwamba v Homeboyz (RFUEA)

Blak Blad v Nakuru (Kenyatta University)

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