Kakamega High School will renew their rugby rivalry with defending champions Koyonzo Secondary School when the 2022 Kakamega County Secondary School Games kick off today in Mumias.
Commonly referred to as the Barbarians, Kakamega High will this year hope their winning charm and dominance in the rugby 15s will help them end their nine-year title drought in the Sevens rugby category.
Kakamega, who previously won the East African rugby 15s title five times in a row from 2015 to 2019, have been dealt a blow after the Ministry of Education earlier suspended rugby 15s, saying it was a high contact sport, hence the need to suspend the sport so as to prevent spread of Covid-19 in schools.
Despite the sudden changes, Kakamega rugby head coach Amos Wamanga said they are going for victory despite coming short in Sevens rugby since 2013.
Koyonzo Secondary and Vihiga High have exchanged the Kakamega County rugby Sevens title between them for the past nine years, but Wamanga is upbeat of ending this reign.
"It is true, we will miss the 15s rugby because nobody dared beat us for the past seven years. It is within our tradition to win it and we are sad that won't happen this year," he said.
"On the bright side, we are happy to have sports back because the suspension of rugby 15s is because of the covid-19 menace."
"Nevertheless, our goal is to come from Mumias with the rugby Sevens title. It has evaded us for many years. The last time we won was in 2013. That is a very long time but everything is possible," added Wamanga.
Koyonzo and Kakamega High last clashed during the Yala Invitational School games hosted by Siaya County rugby heavyweights St Mary's Yala where Kakamega lost both the Sevens and 15s titles, but Wamanga is keen on changing all that.
"The defeat was an eye-opener because we thought we were better, but Koyonzo shocked us. It's a pity we will not meet in the 15s but we have worked on the transformation to Sevens and will be ready for them," said Wamanga.
On the other hand, Koyonzo Secondary rugby coach Oscar Okaron expressed his confidence of retaining the title.
Okaron, who led Koyonzo to double wins in 15s and Sevens in Yala Games in May, said they are much more stronger after making some adjustments in tactics and training for the past three months.
"We are Koyonzo and we always win the Sevens title. We are aware of the plan by our rivals Kakamega high to challenge us but this is our stronghold," said Okaron.
"We have speed, tricks and hunger for the Sevens glory. We want to qualify for the East African games this year."
Elsewhere, defending Kakamega County football champions Green Commandos will be the team to beat at the championships.
Commandos coach Felix Liyanda said he trusts his boys to deliver when called upon.