NAIROBI, Kenya, February 4 – Rugby in Kenya primary schools received a major boost yesterday from the International Rugby Board (IRB) who donated Sh6.7 million as part of the IRB Junior Rugby World Trophy (JWRT) legacy programme.
Speaking at the JWRT official launch on Wednesday, IRB tournament director Philippe Bourdarias said that the game’s governing body opted to hand the Kenya Rugby Football Union (KRFU) extra funding due to the positive results that came out of its own development programme.
“It’s the first time that the IRB has decided to give extra funding in addition to what has been allocated for the tournament,” said Bourdarias whose organization has already committed Sh35 million to the JWRT,” said Bourdarias.
“This injection of funds will be used in a number of ways to further foster the growth of the game in Kenya and across Africa with the IRB overseeing the establishment of age grade legacy projects, infrastructure development, equipment and playing surface support over the next four years,” he added.
The scheme will involve an extensive grass roots programme that will see nearly 100,000 primary school children introduced to the oval ball by 2012.
“Scrum machines, post protectors and auxiliary kit will also be distributed as part of the tournament legacy programme, while improvements will also be made to rugby facilities including changing rooms,” stated Bourdarias.
KRFU chairman Richard Omwela expressed his delight at the prospect of primary school rugby becoming a force.
“Kenya rugby is looking forward to these initiatives with great relish. The JWRT will aid a strategic aim of ours that will turn rugby into a truly community sport,” said Omwela.
Chairman of the JWRT local organizing committee Peter Nduati reiterated that rugby as a whole stands to benefit from the programme which will run concurrently with the tournament.
“We want to make sure that when the tournament ends, it leaves rugby in the nation having moved forward,” said Nduati who is a former lock for Impala and Kenya.
“This is biggest tournament that Africa has hosted as far as rugby is concerned and it is also a developmental tournament which means that the players involved are expected to earn full caps for their countries within the next few years,” he added.
Apart from Kenya, the JWRT will feature 2008 runners up Chile, Cayman Islands, Korea, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Romania and the United States.
Nduati said that he hopes corporate sponsors will come in to help meet the Sh80 million budget required to host a successful tournament with the government playing a supporting role.
“We expect the government to help us in terms of providing logistics such as protocol and security, particularly for the United States who will have their own special security arrangements,” said Nduati.
The tournament’s official mascot ‘Chipu- The Young Lion’ was also unveiled ahead of the event to be held at the Rugby Football Union of East Africa (RFUEA) grounds and the neighbouring Impala Club from April 21 to May 3.
Kenya has been pooled in Group A together with USA, Namibia and Cayman Islands while group B has Chile, Romania and Papua New Guinea.