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New stars emerge as dormant talents shine at Rugby Super Series

 Menengai Cream-Cheetahs' Beldad Ogeta sprint with the ball towards KCB Bank-Lions' area during the Rugby Super Series final at RFUEA Grounds, May 25, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The 2024 Rugby Super Series ended on Saturday, marking a triumphant return after a 10-year hiatus with Menengai Cream Cheetahs crowned champions.

This post-season tournament has not only rejuvenated interest in the sport, but it has also been a platform for emerging talents, who were often overshadowed during the regular Kenya Cup season dominated by powerhouses Kabras Sugar and KCB.

Among these rising stars is Amos Obae, whose stellar performance earned him the title of Rugby Super Series Player of the Tournament.

Obae, a backrower for Nakuru RFC, played a pivotal role throughout the month-long tournament, which was held in Nairobi, Nakuru, and Kakamega.

Despite Nakuru RFC not even making it to the playoffs in the Kenya Cup, Obae’s prowess shone brightly in the Super Series.

His journey from a relatively unknown player to the tournament’s standout performer epitomises the essence of the series – to provide a platform for lesser-known players to display their talent.

 Menengai Cream-Cheetahs' Beldad Ogeta (left) and Levi Amunga of KCB Bank-Lions during the Rugby Super Series final at RFUEA Grounds, May 25, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

In the final weekend of the tournament, Obae was instrumental in his team’s success. He was named in the Team of the Week, having made 12 tackles, nine carries, and scoring a try.

His performance didn’t just stop there; throughout the series, he accumulated impressive stats with 35 tackles, 29 carries, three turnovers, and another try.

His consistency and leadership were further highlighted as he co-captained the Cheetahs to lift their third Super Series title, defeating their rivals 18-11 in a hard-fought final.

Obae’s performance is a testament to the potential lying dormant within the Kenyan rugby landscape. His ability to seize the opportunity provided by the Super Series underscores the importance of such tournaments in nurturing and exposing new talent.

This sentiment is shared by many in the rugby community, who have witnessed the emergence of several other players who have risen to the occasion.

Quinto Ongo, Obae’s teammate from Impala RFC, also had a memorable tournament, finishing as the top points scorer with 22 points. His accuracy and skill in converting opportunities into points were crucial for the Cheetahs’ success.

Elkeans Musonye, another backrower, was named Man of the Match in the final, highlighting his impactful play that helped secure the Cheetahs’ victory.

The competition also saw joint top try scorers Griffin Chao (Buffaloes), Victor Odhiambo (Rhinos), and Givens Oduor (Lions), each crossing the try line twice.

 Menengai Cream-Cheetahs Dennis Abukuse and KCB Bank-Lions' Charles Tendwa (left) during the Rugby Super Series final at RFUEA Grounds, May 25, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

These performances illustrate the depth of talent present across various teams, beyond the usual dominance of Kabras Sugar and KCB, who have long boasted the best players due to their financial muscle. The return of the Rugby Super Series has been a strategic move to balance the scales and provide a level playing field for all players, regardless of their club’s financial backing.

This initiative has already started to pay dividends, as evidenced by the emergence of players like Obae, Ongo, and Musonye. If structured and supported well, this tournament could continue to be a vital component in the development of rugby in Kenya, enriching the talent pool and offering more competitive and thrilling matches for fans.

As the dust settles on this year’s series, the rugby fraternity is optimistic about the future. The performance of these emerging stars provides a glimmer of hope that the sport will continue to grow and diversify.

The Super Series has shown that with the right platform, hidden talents can rise and make a significant impact.

The success of the tournament demonstrate that Kenya’s rugby has a bright future.

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