Simbas wary of Uganda ahead of Elgon Cup clash

By Clement Wekulo: Saturday, June 22nd 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Rugby
The Simbas have won the Elgon Cup four times in succession. [Jonah Onyango]

National men’s rugby 15s coach Paul Odera says it will be suicidal for the Simbas to underrate Uganda as the two sides clash in the first leg of the Elgon Cup at  Mamboleo Showground in Kisumu today.

With the two nations’ rugby rivalry dating back to 1958, Kenya boast of a superior head to head record having registered 21 wins while the Cranes have nine victories to their name. Only a single match, played in Nairobi in June 2017, has ended in a draw.

The Simbas have won the Elgon Cup four times in succession, their latest triumph being a 72-38 aggregate win last year.

Despite this impressive record, Odera has cautioned his charges against taking the Ugandans for granted in the match which kicks off at 4pm.

“Our matches with Uganda are always close and you never know how they will turn up. They have brought in a number of new faces and this further complicates matters for us since we don’t know much about those players who have been introduced,” Odera said.

Odera has defended the decision to name relatively young squad with only four players in the starting line up being above 25 years.

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“The young players who have been included are up to the task.The national team is not a place to experiment and they are all there on merit. If these boys were not good enough, they could not have made it to the team,” Odera said while referring to the six national under-20 players who are making their senior debut in today’s match.

Those elevated from the junior team are Homeboyz forward Emmanuel Silungi, Toby Francombe of Nondescripts, Kenya Harlequins’ Jeff Mutuku, Geoffrey Okwach of KCB and the Coulson brothers, Dominic and Cameron. 

KCB centre Peter Kilonzo has been handed captaincy duty with Impala Saracens lose forward Elkeans Musonye set to deputise him.

“I told the team that there is no one who is guaranteed a place in the squad and only their hard work in training will have them selected. My focus is always on a player’s individual style and their skill level,” added Odera. The Elgon Cup return leg will be played at Kyadondo Rugby Club in Kampala.

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