A record 36 teams are headed for a revamped 27th edition of St Mary’s Blackrock rugby tournament slated for May 15 at the school’s grounds.
The girls’ competition, which will feature at the event for the first time, has attracted 12 teams, mainly from Nairobi. The boys’ fray will equally be competitive, with 24 teams eyeing the title.
Tournament coordinator Gregory Sang’ expects a tough draw when it is conducted on Tuesday, not just for the hosts but for all participating teams.
“Gone are the days when teams would get draws and refer to them as walkovers. We have seen that on a good day, even schools like Kangaru High can beat any team in the country,” noted Sang’.
Hosts St Mary’s, defending champions Upper Hill and Rift Valley Academy will provide two teams apiece in the boys’ competition.
Also represented at East Africa’s biggest school rugby festival include Strathmore, Nairobi School, Lenana School, Highway, Dagoretti, Mutuini, Muhuri Muchiri, Ofafa Jericho and Jamhuri.
Others are Sunshine, Hillcrest, Rosslyn Academy, Ruthimitu, MFA, Mutungoni, Uhuru, Nairobi Pentecostal Church and Juja Preparatory.
Entrance is free
Teams to face off in the girls’ contest include Maono Educational Centre, Raila Educational Centre, State House Girls, Ruthimitu, Hidden Talent Academy and Nile Road.
Others are St Martins, Precious Blood Girls, St Teresa’s Girls, Buru Buru Girls, Crescent Girls and Nembu Girls.
The St Mary’s Blackrock Rugby Festival was started in 1983 by the then headmaster, Father Cormac O’Brachlain. As always, entrance to the event is free as it is meant to grow the popularity of the sport.
Last year’s Most Valuable Player and former “Saints’” star player, David Ambunya, 19, who turns out for Kenya Harlequins RFC, is testament to just how the tournament can elevate a student athlete’s status in just one short year.
Besides Ambunya, the event has produced some of Kenya’s greatest rugby stars, the likes of Allan Hicks, Ian Simiyu and Biko Adema.
Recent title winners
2009:Upper Hill; 2008: Strathmore B; 2007: Rift Valley Academy; 2006: Rift Valley Academy; 2005: St Mary’s; 2004: St Mary’s; 2003: Nakuru; 2002: Lenana; 2001: Nakuru; 2000: Rift Valley Academy