NAIROBI, Kenya, March 2 – Rugby in Western Kenya is set for a massive boost following the introduction of a new Bamburi Rugby Super Series franchise to be based in the region.
Series chairman Aggrey Chabeda told Capital Sport that the introduction of a new team called Western Buffaloes is aimed at tapping into the abundant talent the area and is geared towards creating more provincial sides throughout the country.
“We recognize that a very large pool of players come from Western Kenya especially in the belt starting from Kitale, Eldoret, Bungoma, Kakamega, Vihiga through to Kisii,” said Chabeda at the launch of the series on Tuesday.
“We decided to give them an opportunity to run a franchise and also hope that in future other parts of the country will do the same,” he added.
All three East African Rugby Unions will be involved in the seven year old tournament which is modeled on the southern hemisphere’s provincial showpiece Super 14.
Kenya will provide five teams while Tanzania and Uganda will have one and two sides respectively.
“It’s very exciting for rugby because we are expanding the game and it gives fan for variety. It also ties in with fostering unity within the East African Community and also attract corporates who operate within the region hence they will see more value,” said Chabeda.
Sports broadcaster Superport will beam to the tournament from its onset to the rest of Africa from April 24 to May 22.
“This further expands Kenyan rugby’s fan base as well as the client base for the corporates. Supersport also provides a clear quality picture,” said Chabeda.
Apart from a new franchise, the 2010 edition will also see the introduction of a First Aid workshop as well as support events like ladies rugby, an age grade tournament and a international schools under 15 finals.
Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) chairman Richard Omwela hailed the growth of the tournament.
“The super series has come of age and in order to make it truly regional and raise our standards, we hope to include sides from Zambia and Zimbabwe,” said Omwela.
Bamburi Cement who are sponsoring the tournament for the fifth year in a row have put in Sh11 million in the 2010 edition up from 9 million last year.
“The attributes of rugby such as strength, endurance and resilience are similar to those of our brands and make such sponsorships appealing to us,” said Bamburi Marketing Director Robert Nyang’aya.
Pool A: Cheetahs, Sharks, Lions, Twiga
Pool B: Rhinos, Ruwenzori, Buffaloes, Victoria