Marlin Mukolwe reviews his storied career with Barbarians, Chipu and KCB as he hangs boots

Marlin Mukolwe in a past Kenya Cup match. PHOTO/KCB Rugby
Marlin Mukolwe in a past Kenya Cup match. PHOTO/KCB Rugby

2022/23 was the last Kenya Cup season for former KCB Rugby and Chipu scrum-half Marlin Mukolwe.

Mukolwe, a former Kakamega high school alumnus began his rugby journey way back in 2006 at Kakamega school. The halfback says that he first came to learn of rugby while in form 1 during an inter-class competition held in the school.

“I started playing back in high school and developed interest after inter-classes.” Said Mukolwe on his introduction to rugby.

Marlin Mukolwe background

Even though he hails from a footballing family with his father Bousted Mukolwe being a veteran football coach, it was obvious that he would also go the football way. However, this was not to happen as he found joy in playing rugby.

Marlin Mukolwe, part of Kakamega High 2010's squad. PHOTO/John Asila

Marlin Mukolwe, part of Kakamega High 2010’s squad. PHOTO/John Asila

“I’ve always had a supportive family so they too were eager to learn about the game.” added Mukolwe.

Mukolwe, known for his small stature of the body says that the team of his year drew inspiration from the past teams.

“Back then in school, we found stories of a great team before that had played in Dubai so I guess that was the inspiration for the team,” Mukolwe revealed.

The scrum-half was part of the great Kakamega School team representing the country in Dubai 7s in 2008. Besides featuring in Dubai 7s where the side finished second, Mukolwe won the National 15s and East African 15s title in 2009 and National 7s in 2010.

After completion of his high school studies, Mukolwe continue to play for now defunct Kakamega RFC, a side he started represented while still in high school. This is because their school coach Dr. Ahaya Ochieng is the current KRU Development officer was also Kakamega RFC coach.

After this, he joined KCB Rugby where he has played nearly all of his club rugby. With KCB he got to earn a call-up to the Kenya U20, Chipu and had his maiden debut against Zimbabwe in the Barthes Cup in 2013.

On representing the country he says that it was a memorable experience and working with and playing alongside and against top young talents was amazing.

“ Having a bit of exposure from high school helped with stage fright since we were treated as national representatives so the first game felt like just any other game. It was quite interesting I must say. Playing young talents from different teams and coaching backgrounds was an amazing experience and exposure,” he pointed out.


On his transition from high school and earning a spot in one of the best clubs in the country, Mukolwe says that he did not find it hard as there were many Barbarians in the team.

“My transition to club rugby was not hard since I had my former mates in the KCB team. They made my life easy in the team as I felt that I belonged there by just seeing their presence,” said Mukolwe.

Marlin Mukolwe debut

Interestingly, Mukolwe made his KCB debut against his high school club Kakamega RFC in the Eric Shirley Shield in January 2011 just after completion of his high school studies.

For Kenya Cup, he made his debut against Strathmore Leos in 2012 in a match that ended in a 16-16 draw and he is the one who scored the lone try for the bankers.

Marlin Mukolwe preparing to take a kick. PHOTO/KCB Rugby

Marlin Mukolwe preparing to take a kick. PHOTO/KCB Rugby

He went on to cement his position in the team and was part of the team that won the four-peat. He went on to play for the bankers for eleven years. On his stay with the bankers, he says that his period with them was amazing and worth it.

“ The stint with the bankers was a great one I must say. It was great while it lasted,” Mukolwe pointed out.

After a long stint with KCB, Mukolwe moved to Kenyatta University’s Blak Blad for the last season of his career. There he managed to play his last game of active rugby.

Interestingly his last game was also against Strathmore Leos, a team he played on his Kenya Cup debut. On whether his retirement came earlier than he expected, he says that it didn’t come early or late.

“Not at all the retirement wasn’t early, more than eleven years serves as quite enough time to call it a day,” Mukolwe says on his retirement.

“ My retirement was not inspired, it just got to a point where the hunger for the game faded and it felt like it was time. When I started I had projected it to be done by around the age I did retire so I read the challenges that came by as a sign.”

What next for Marlin Mukolwe?

After retirement, Mukolwe hopes to stay in the game but he has not decided how. “ I am open-minded to continue serving the game whenever a chance comes by, however, so far I have not planned what to do yet but for now being a fan is my service to the game.”

Having gone to one of the best rugby schools in the past decade in the country, it’s obvious that Mukolwe got to learn from the best and mingle with the finest talents in the country. Of his small stature, he got a spot in one of the best teams Kakamega School has ever fielded.

“My most memorable game was my first ever game back in high school since it was like a reality that at only 47 kgs, I was playing rugby. Back then Kakamega was known for players with bodies and mass. Being among them was felt special to me,” said a joyful Mukolwe.

Marlin Mukolwe in action against Homeboyz. PHOTO/KCB Rugby

Marlin Mukolwe in action against Homeboyz. PHOTO/KCB Rugby

Being in one of the best rugby clubs in the country, he says that he doesn’t take that for granted and all of the seasons he played counted for him.

“All seasons counted for me but I would give it to my last season at KCB since I learnt how to embrace losing and just to enjoy the whole process without subjecting myself into too much pressure,” Mukolwe said.

“I consider my rugby journey memorable so it’s hard to pick one specific moment. The entire journey serves both good memories and learning moments.”

Mukolwe’s challenges 

Like any sportsman, he encountered challenges along his rugby journey and life while playing.

“The biggest challenge faced while playing was the technical approach used by most tacticians, it felt like sometimes as a player I was either misunderstood or not understood at all.”

Asked if he has anything to say to young and upcoming rugby players he had this to say, “My advice would be simple, before you even start picture the end and what direction you would want the journey to take. It is an unending cycle full of lessons and challenges, limit expectations and have realistic goals which will keep you enjoying the game at all times even when challenges arise.”

Mukolwe ended by sharing a good parting shot, “My thinking is if there would be a way of giving rugby players social security after playing days because you get someone commits more than 10 years playing then at the end of the day most have nothing to show for it. Even if the teams or the union could devise a plan of securing players’ welfare after service to the game.”

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