Rugby union in East Africa

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Rugby union in East Africa is almost entirely an amateur sport. It has been played in the three East African nations (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) for more than a century; the first recorded match taking place in 1909, though it was almost certainly being played for several years prior to this. There are many club and school teams, the oldest of which were established in Colonial times.

There are three national teams within East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) and also a multinational team (East Africa) that draws its players from these three nations. This team plays games at home against incoming touring sides and also conducts tours to other rugby playing nations (during which they play under the Tuskers moniker).

Early history[edit]

Several universities and Royal Navy ships sent teams to tour East Africa prior to the Second World War.

Birth of the clubs[edit]

Nairobi District Championship[edit]

The Contribution of the Royal Navy[edit]

The first was H.M.S. Southampton (1922), closely followed by H.M.S. Colombo (1923) and then (frequently more than once over the next decade) His Majesty's Ships Cairo, Chatham, Effingham and Enterprise.[1] This latter vessel was to provide a lasting memento of its visits by presenting the Enterprise Cup to the union in 1928; a trophy that has been the object of competition between clubs in the region ever since.

Enterprise Cup[edit]

War-time Rugby[edit]

The Contribution of the South African Universities[edit]

The Combined South African Universities toured in 1929[2] and in 1935 Danie Craven captained Stellenbosch University on a tour of the region.[3]

University of Stellenbosch 1935/36[edit]

University of Cape Town 1949/50[edit]

The Unions[edit]

The formation of the unions[edit]

The first union in British East Africa was the Rugby Football Union of Kenya (RFU-K), founded in August 1921 (although it did not become effective until 1923 with the formation of the first two Nairobi clubs - Nondescripts R.F.C. and Harlequins R.F.C.);[4] it was responsible for the administration of the game throughout Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika which it carried out through various district sub-unions throughout the region.

In 1953 the Rugby Football Union of East Africa (RFUEA) was created in order to take over the mantle as the umbrella organisation for rugby in the region.[4] The creation of the RFUEA allowed for the formation of the Tanganyika Rugby Football Union (T.R.F.U.) in 1954 and Uganda Rugby Football Union (U.R.F.U.) in 1955.[5] Each of these were essentially a sub-union of the RFUEA much as the district unions in Kenya were, so the RFU-K was dissolved in 1956 allowing the already existing district unions to deal directly with the RFUEA.[4]

RFUK 1923[edit]

RFUEA 1953[edit]

Tanganyika RFU 1954[edit]

Uganda RFU 1955[edit]

Kenya RFU 1970[edit]

Tanzania RFU ????[edit]

The major incoming club tours[edit]

Combined (Oxford and Cambridge) Universities 1951, 1957 and 1963[edit]

Combined (Cape Town and Stellenbosch) Universities 1955[edit]

Rhodes University Invitation XV 1955-56[edit]

Queens University Belfast 1968[edit]

Middlesex County 1968[edit]

The clubs and the rugby playing schools[edit]

KOBS.(founded 1963) current Chairman Mr.Adrian Bukenya. Among the notable clubs in Uganda is the Kampala Old Boys popularly known as the KOBS that plays its home matches at Kampala Rugby Union Football Club and competes in all the national tournaments from seven aside to ten aside and the common fifteen aside competition. The club is the most successful in the country collecting close to 50 trophies in its illustrious history dating back to 1963. The club is currently coached by Fred Mudoola and captained by Brian Odongo, and are the reigning 2013/2014 National League champions. The club has always associated itself with Namilyango College and other rugby playing secondary schools from where it picks talented students who are nurtured to become club and national stalwarts. The club has in the past produced greats such as Yayiro Kasasa, Allan Musoke,Timothy Mudoola, Fred Mudoola,Mike Wandera,Tony Luggya,Victor Kalimugogo, Victor Wadia, with the list not about to end. In basic terms every one who gets a jersey for each game is great.

Biggest win KOBS 152 - LIRA BULLS 00 Biggest loss KOBS 05 - HEATHENS 42

KOBS Captains Early 1980s David Nsubuga (RIP) Mid 1980s Edward Kitaka Kizito (RIP) 1990 Yayiro Kasasa 1992 Arthur Mugweri 1997 Simon Olok 1998 Martin Kasasira 1999 Michael Wandera 2000-2001 Victor Kalimugogo 2002 Michael Wandera 2003 Nathan Wasolo 2004-2005 Fred Mudoola 2006 Timothy Mudoola 2007-2008 Adrian Bukenya 2009 Timothy Mudoola 2010-Todate Brian Odong

Club Chairmen 1990's Edward Kitaka Kizito 2003 Philip Karugaba 2005 Martin Kasasira 2006-2007 Nathan Wasolo 2008-2009 Arthur Mugweri 2010-2011 Martin Kasasira 2012 Nathan Wasolo 2013-To date Adrian Bukenya

other notable clubs in Uganda are heathens the second most successful club, Makerere Impis, Black Pirates & Rhinos.

Fanning the embers of the East African fire[edit]

Bamburi Super Series[edit]

International encounters[edit]



  • Campbell, M; Cohen, E.J. (1960). Rugby Football in East Africa 1909-1959. Rugby Football Union of East Africa. 
  • Programme of Fifth Tuskers tour of Zambia. Rugby Football Union of East Africa. 1975. 
  1. ^ Campbell (1960) pp15
  2. ^ Godwin (1981) pp21
  3. ^ Godwin (1981) pp22
  4. ^ a b c Campbell (1960) pp51
  5. ^ Kenya Rugby Historical Highlights at retrieved 24 August 2009