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Irish priest who revived Kenyan school rugby dies from coronavirus

Friday April 17 2020
SCH2-PIX

Maseno School rugby team captain Sylvester Ogeto (centre) leads teammates in lifting the St Mary's Black Rock Rugby Festivals title on May 2015 at St Mary's School. PHOTO | FILE |

By AYUMBA AYODI

Father Frank Caffrey, who helped strengthen school rugby tournaments notably Prescott Cup and Blackrock Festival, has passed on in Dublin, Ireland.

Caffrey, who was a bursar at St Mary’s School between 1996 to 2002, died on Wednesday from Coronavirus related complications.

The local rugby fraternity led by Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) chairman Oduor Gangla paid tribute to Caffrey for his valuable contribution to rugby growth.

“We celebrate him for the services he rendered to rugby while at St Mary’s School. We really want to join the family in celebrating this great man,” said Gangla.

Gregory Sang, a teacher at St Mary’s School, said Caffrey was humble, ever helpful and dedicated his time for the improvement of rugby not only at St Mary’s but also the country.

Sang said Caffrey was instrumental in the formation of the Kenya School Combined team that toured South Africa just after apartheid ended in 1991. He also toured as the team manager.

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Sang recalls that the team had talented players including Kenya Simbas head coach Paul Odera, Eugene Kigame, Ian Matibe and Kiran Jethwa.

“Father Caffrey was so passionate about rugby that he used to refund to them money used as transport by coaches and team managers, who came for meetings to plan for Prescott Cup and Blackrock Festival at St Mary’s School,” said Sang. “The two school championships were struggling and he is the one who revitalised them.”

Sang explained that it was during that time that St Mary’s School dominated to win back-to-back Black Rock Festival from 1994 to 1999 besides winning Prescott Cup also back-to-back from 1995 to 1999.

Sang said Caffrey visited the country last in 2017 and hinted about retiring from his pastoral duties owing to some heart ailment. “We want to sincerely convey our condolences to the family of Caffrey,” said Sang. “We really want to thank him for his services.”

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