For the third year in a row, the Impala Rugby Floodlit tournament sees a clash between two arch-rivals, who are rugby powerhouses in their own right. Resolution Impala Saracens won 20-18 against Strathmore Leos to enter the final. KCB posted a 34-10 score-line at the 80th minute to book a date with the Gazelles. While Resolution Impala Saracens opted for a highly intensive 15 week pre-season preparation under coaches Frank Ndong’ & Oscar Osir & finished it off with a friendly match against the Kenya Simbas, KCB tapered theirs off with a 10 day camp in South Africa. Impala beat KCB 33-32 in the 2016 final. KCB came back in 2017 to win 18-17. Is this the year that Impala wins by another narrow margin? Is this when KCB win with another slim difference? Or will we see a wide gap in scores at full-time?
The Floodies 2018 media team in two separate interviews with members of the two opposing teams can conclude that this will be a tight affair.
KCB team manager, Philip Wamae, who played and won this tournament in his first year of club rugby (2007) had this to say:
“It is a bit too early to speak. Finals can go any side. It is always about the man who wants it more & makes very few mistakes while at it,” he confirms
Although Resolution Impala Saracens were almost dragged into extra time by Strathmore Leos last weekend and the match ended 20-18 to the Gazelles favor, Wamae believes that only the inexperienced would follow the ongoing fan wave doing rounds on social media. “We have been watching Impala play. Coming from down to beat Quins in the quarters & holding a daring Strathmore in the semis. We believe they have a lot to offer and we are planning to approach this game with the focus it deserves.”
KCB had their pre-season preparations in Newlands, CapeTown. Asked if he believes KCB are ready to lift the 37th edition of the Impala Rugby Floodlit Tournament, he responded to clarify, “At the beginning of our pre-season preps, communication was made to the players that this is a platform for self and team assessment. We are looking at finding the perfect combinations to take us through the 2018-19 Kenya Cup Season. We are still at 25%. We are yet to find proper rhythm, but at the same time, we are not at a bad place. We are always striving to reach a point where we play a structure of team work. I however expect a lot from our senior players, but also a lot more from the younger players who should be lifting their hands even higher for first team selection just before Kenya Cup begins.”
Oscar Osir, a legend whose exploits within the four corners of the rugby pitch took him pro at a time when such opportunities were rare and is currently the backs coach at Resolution Impala Saracens has narrowed his focus to one single deliverable:
“If you ask me now, we’ll take a win. 7-5, 9-10… all that is important is the win,” he asserts.
Resolution Impala Saracens lost the 36th Impala Rugby Floodlit Tournament in 2017 at a capacity Impala Club, home to the Kenyan Sarries since 1956. Resolution Impala Saracens has won the tournament a total of 7 times. KCB have won it 6 times. When reached for post match comments last year against an atmosphere of imposing and euphoric KCB rugby fans, Resolution Impala Saracens Veteran and Group CEO Resolution Insurance, Mr. Peter Nduati confirmed, “it feels bad, very bad, however I am impressed by how that team (Resolution Impala Saracens) played.” (The Gazelles went on to bow out of the Kenya Cup competition at the semi final and finished 2nd at the Enterprise Cup – a testament of efforts put into work, since the narrow Floodies loss).
Resolution Impala Saracens could have won the match, but a last minute handling error within strike zone by Captain Duncan Ekasi gifted KCB the lucky win. Although he missed out on the first two Floodies 2018 fixtures against Kenya Harlequins (20-15) and Strathmore (20-18), the former Kenya Simbas player/Impala Captain is heating up for some KCB challenge.
Osir’s scope is trained on one aspect, getting the win. “Anything that gives us the win, we’ll take it. We are working on that process. Our focus is on the facets that will earn us that win & we are working on those particular facets.”
“For the boys, this particular fixture is very important. We drew 9-9 against KCB in the 2017-18 Kenya Cup league on March 3rd 2018, but lost 0-15 to them in the Kenya Cup semis on the 17th of the same month. It is usually an interesting encounter between us & no better time to reclaim glory than now.”
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