The Kenya Cup rugby final between Kenya Commercial Bank and Kabras Sugar on Saturday at Kakamega Showground recorded one of the highest match attendances in the league.
Besides an estimated 8,000 fans at the packed venue, 1,000 others were turned away. This is a clear signal that rugby enjoys a huge following even outside Nairobi.
This was the first Kenya Cup final to be played outside the capital city, in the spirit of taking the sport to other parts of the country. That stands well with Kenya Rugby Union’s plan to stage the Elgon Cup match between Kenya and Uganda in Kisumu.
KCB rallied from behind to beat Kabras Sugar 23-15 and retain the title for the third consecutive time. However, the other teams in the league need significant improvement to challenge the top two for the title. KRU should do more to develop the game in other areas outside Nairobi.
KCB and Kabras Sugar have dominated the past five seasons of Kenya Cup, the bankers winning four times and Kabras one. KCB, however, failed to reach the final was in 2015/16 season, when Kabras beat Impala Saracens to win the title.
The champions, KCB, and their closest rivals, Kabras, are in a class of their own, setting high standards that the chasing pack has struggled to match. Besides having invested heavily in their playing units, the introduction of prize money in the league has motivated teams to strive to do better.
But KRU must rein in poor officiating in the league and look into the welfare of referees by promptly paying match allowances. These are what KRU officials, led by chairman Oduor Gangla, must do to take the game to greater heights.