Rugby: MMUST and Strathmore Leos light up 2019 KRU Championship

By Washington Onyango: Monday, December 30th 2019 at 17:14 GMT +3 | Rugby
MMUST RFC's Tyson Juma in action against Strathmore Leos. [Washington Onyango, Standard]

Kenya Cup has been the dominant and most popular rugby league backed by a huge following across the country but the 2019-2020 Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) Championship has provided a new wave of competition rarely witnessed for the past years.

The second-tier rugby league has provided fans with entertaining and competitive results that has seen the rise of Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST RFC) among the top teams in the western region for the past three years.

MMUST, as they are popularly known, has already put up their best performance of the two season’s they have been in the championship after collecting 30 points from their eight matches played which leaves them second in the league.

The Kakamega-based students have already bagged seven victories against Egerton Wasps, United States International University (USIU RFC), Kisii, Mean Machine, University of Eldoret, Eldoret RFC and Northern Suburbs which compounds a successful season so far as team manager Meshack Nyambane reveals

 “We have been a very consistent team since our promotion from the nationwide league in 2018 and the team has made a very huge step towards becoming a top team in the region.”

“The investment the institution has injected in the team is unmatched and the boys are giving their best.”

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MMUST RFC's John Bahati in action against Strathmore Leos. [Washington Onyango, Standard]

Furthermore, Strathmore Leos and Mean Machine presence in the league has ignited the championship more with the former Kenya Cup teams fighting for promotion alongside sides that have gained experience.

The two sides were relegated from the Kenya Cup after finishing in the bottom two of the 2018-19 top leagues’ season, swapping places with Western Bulls and Kisumu RFC.

“The season has been tough so far considering we have been playing teams which have gained more than two-year experience of playing in the championship. Despite our Kenya Cup experience, the competition has been tough,” Leos captain Gabriel Adero said.

Leos have taken the championship by a storm having won all their eight matches and sit at the helm of the standings with 38 points, eight points clear off second placed MMUST.

Mean Machine have, however, been inconsistent after losing their two opening matches but seem to have found their mojo by climbing out of the relegation zone to third in the standings.

Their victories over Kisii, University of Eldoret, Mombasa, Catholic Monks and Northern Suburbs saw them move to third with 26 points despite losing to MMUST, South Coast Pirates and leaders Leos consecutively.

Newbies Northern Suburbs are riding high after registering four wins which sees them occupy the fourth spot and are in the bracket of finishing the playoff spots.

MMUST RFC's Samuel Mbeche(left) in action against Strathmore Leos. [Washington Onyango, Standard]

Catholic Monks and USIU Martials who finished among the top four last season have found the going hard with the team currently poised at position six and seventh respectively, with both teams having won only three matches.

Former Kenya Cup side Kisii RFC are however steering relegation after being deducted four points for dishing out walkovers and are currently bottom of the table with negative one points with captain George Sagini claiming lack of funds is affecting them.

“The team is broke. We are failing to honour our away matches because we cannot afford to cater for logistics. We are appealing to well-wishers to help us before it is too late,” said Sagini.

University select teams have dominated the 2019 championship season with six teams playing and sponsored by various institutions, three of which top the league and the race for premier league promotion.

Two teams will be promoted to the Kenya Cup next season.

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