How Kabras Sugar have found sweetness to dominate rugby

Kabras Sugar fan celebrate their win against KCB RFC during Enterprise Cup finals at RFUEA. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kabras Sugar Rugby Football Club are now truly the kings of rugby in Kenya.

After many put their double victory last year to weak opponents and pure luck, Kabras confirmed to their doubters they are the new gods of rugby by not only retaining the Kenya Cup title, but also bagging the Enterprise Cup title in the season ending 2022-2023.

To put the the icing on the cake, Kabras completed their double over none other than their archrivals KCB Rugby who not until this year had been crashing them at will from 2017.

The sugar miller's journey to the top started when they whipped KCB 29-23 on February 18 to seal their top spot finish in the regular season and earn the rights to host the Kenya Cup final.

On March 12, the sugar men proceeded to break the losing curse in the finals to KCB by edging out the bankers 19-9 at the fully packed Kakamega Showgrounds.

Last Saturday, Kabras sealed their perfect season with a thrilling 30-27 comeback win over KCB in the Enterprise Cup final with a depleted squad.

On the touchline, their partisan fans that have a well-orchestrated choir moved in sync with the team. When their rugby stars were sprinting across the white line for those invaluable tries, their 12th man on the touchline was there to cheer.

They remained indefatigable throughout the season as they savoured every try made, every victory delivered. They were there, relentlessly.

Kabras Sugar Eugene Sifuna is tackled by KCB defence during Enterprise Cup finals at RFUEA. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kabras RFC fans have displayed rare energy, drive and unmatched enthusiasm since 2014 when the sugar millers were promoted to Kenya Cup, a show that is said to be propelling the Western-based side to jaw-dropping victories.

Just like the players, Kabras RFC fans are a sight to behold in Kenya Cup clashes as they unleash powerful songs effortlessly and unmoved even when their club is losing.

Speaking after their unbeaten run in the 2022-2023 season, Kabras chairman Edwin Esilaba credited their dominance to their passionate fans and the age-group development system the club started in 2019.

Esilaba, who is in his first stint as chairperson after being elected last year said they have developed a new culture of growing and nurturing their own talent fresh from high school compared to previous years where they poached big names internationally and locally.

"The age-grade development enabled us to rotate our squads for the entire season. Through rotation, our squad was able to rest building up to the playoffs. In previous season (2017-2021), our players reached the post-season worn out and depleted of energy.

"If you look closely in the previous finals we lost, we had no bench power; the players started well but would tire with no back up plan. That has since changes," Esilaba said.

"Our squad average age is 23-24 years. We have close to 19 players out on national duty (Kenya Simbas and Kenya Sevens) which is a good thing. At the same time, we still have a squad that can play like the one which won the Enterprise Cup."

Kabras Sugar's Shem Angugo celebrate with the trophy after their Enterprise Cup 2023 win against KCB at RFUEA. April 15, 2023. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Esilaba also said transitioning the club into the community has helped to build a strong fan base.

Kabras assistant coach Edwin Achayo said the club has initiated three social pillars; education, health and environment where they have been able to gain even more fans.

"We have been doing clean water projects in Kakamega and providing education support for our age-grade players both in primary, secondary and colleges," Achayo said.

"This has helped the club gain the trust of the community and people fall in love with Kabras rugby. We are building something special with them because we know without the fans, Kabras cannot move forward," said the former Kenya Simbas international.

"Our biggest achievement this year despite winning a double is the young players climbing up the ranks to deliver when the first squad was away during the Enterprise Cup final and at the beginning of the season."

Kabras Sugar

Head Coach-Carlos Katywa

Assistant coach-Edwin Achayo

Chairman-Edwin Esilaba

2022-2023 Achievements

Kenya Cup champions

Enterprise Cup champions

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