After three years of playing in the Championship following their relegation back in 2020, Kisumu RFC are back in Kenya’s top-flight rugby, Kenya Cup.
The lake region-based side secured their promotion to Kenya Cup after dismissing a high-flying Daystar side 19-7 in one of the Championship semi-finals that were played earlier this month.
Although they lost the finals 24-6 to Nondescripts, Kisumu RFC fans have all the reason to smile as their team will once again be flying its flag high against Kenya’s rugby top sides come next season.
The return has been orchestrated by head coach Lawi Buyachi, who took over the team at the start of the season.
While speaking to Scrummage Africa, Buyachi, a former Nakuru and Kabras man, said their main objective of the season then, was to improve on the ninth position that they had finished the previous season.
“My first season at Kisumu has been fantastic. Our main objective was to improve our chances of reaching a playoff spot. After achieving the objective, we decided to go gun blazing for the Kenya Cup slot,” he said.
His main challenge, he pose, was injecting some experience into the team, to make it a formidable Kenya Cup slot contender.
“Major challenge was to bring depth & experience to the squad. Luckily we got Charles Obako from Nakuru, Kevin Moriasi from Mwamba, and the Carlos Magara & Osiri duo from Kabarak. They gelled quickly with the rest and we kept challenging ourselves,” he said.
Apart from injecting some experience into the squad, Buyachi adds that their good pre-season preparations with the help from friends at Oilers and Kabras also played a key role in their 2023 success.
“I think the best thing that we did was to have a prolonged preseason training getting expert help from our friends from Oilers and Kabras. It came in handy. Also, the quality preseason games at Victoria Cup where we kept building our confidence & getting the winning mentality culture,” he said.
“I also believe our biggest weapon this season was squad rotation, there was no room for players’ fatigue. Our sponsors, EXCO and partners have been immense in ensuring all logistics were met and the boys super comfortable,” he added.
While he relishes the historic achievement of his team, Buyachi is aware that the uphill task is not making it to Kenya Cup but surviving relegation.
On that, Buyachi said he has put in place measures to ensure they will survive the cut come to the end of next season
“Our goal remains intact, we are headed to the big boys league with only one sole objective; to survive the cut. First, we want to have a better pre-season. We also look to improve our Human resources by attracting quality players in some departments that are key playing up there. Then, we want to build on our depth and general standard growth by building capacity from within. Of course, money will always be a hindrance and we are calling on well-wishers to come on board & help our already existing partners,” he said
Having had previous coaching roles at South Coast Pirates and Kabras Rugby, Buyachi says he is still on a learning curve, and his short stint at Kisumu has come with its won lessons.
“As a coach, I have learnt that there is more to coaching just rugby skills, you need to go miles and relate to players, management, fans and sponsors outside the rectangle. The interpersonal connection helps in building trust, cohesion, and caremederie that eventually translates to better team performance,” he said.
To the fans, Buyachi says, “To our main partner, Kisumu Specialist Hospital, other partners, donors and club supporters, words alone are not sufficient enough to express our gratitude. To our ever-hardworking Management EXCO good job. My technical team you are God sent and lastly to the players, you are the real deal. Asante Mungu for bringing us this far.”