History of Rugby at the Mombasa Sports Club
There are few records of the beginnings of rugby at the Mombasa Sports Club, however, the first mention of rugby being played at MSC is in the 1930s. It is said that a man named Wrentmore, who worked at the Vipingo Sisal Estate, and had played rugby for the South Mrican 'Springboks', coached the MSC team. He was influential in bringing over the famous Stellenbosch University team from South Mrica in 1935. In the 1950s and '60s rugby was very popular at the Sports Club and there was always a strong team willing and able to take on all comers and to enjoy the partying afterwards.
Many matches were played against teams from visiting naval and merchant ships, but the Mombasa team also traveled up country and to Tanzania, where they proved hard to beat. The first African to play for the Mombasa Sports Club team was Ted Kabetu. Ted was a school-boy international and an outstanding all round sportsman who later went on to become the first African chairman of the Club. The years after independence began to adversely affect the growth of Coastal rugby due to the mass exodus of the colonials who were the backbone of the team.
There was consequently a "dark" era in the history of the team when between the mid '7Os and mid '8Os the Mombasa rugby team was actually non-existent. This however did not mead that there was a lack of interest, in fact, the interest was so strong in a handful of people that in April 1986 a statement, signed by Ken Onyando and Patrick (Pecos) Onyango was to set the ball rolling for the revival of the game in Mombasa. The statement was basically an appeal to interested people to get together and discuss ways and means of bringing back rugby to the Mombasa Sports Club. This resulted in the reformation of the Rugby Section. But for a short time the Rugby Section of the Club had to disband and find an alternative home as there were not enough players who were Club members.
The team was able to obtain permission from the Kenya Ports Authority to use the facilities of their Mbaraki Sports Club in the same year. Notable founder members of the now Mbaraki RFC were Ben Swai, Sam Okello, Alex Leteipan, Suleiman Ramji, Clive Van Rensburg, James Otieno, Trevor Owen, Patrick Obath, Sam Oloo, Ken Kibaara, Njeri Lugero, Schola Ajode, Brown Ondego, George Kidenda and George Bagshaw. Zach who was to become coach arrived shortly afterwards.
It was through the hardships as a growing side at Mbaraki and efforts by all members and players to accomplish the task, that the team took firm root and was, after being granted affiliation to the Kenya Rugby Football Union in 1986, entered into the 1987 Eric Shirley Shield second division league. Sheer determination, hard work and some good fortune saw the team's performance begin to improve and its membership grow. Within two years of its registration as Mbaraki RFC a task force consisting of Allan Crawford, Sam Okello, Zach 0100 and Tom Muchura was appointed to find a way of taking rugby back to Mombasa Sports Club. This was prompted due to the poor ground conditions at Mbaraki. on 15thJune, 1989, a new Rugby Section was formally constituted at the Mombasa Sports Club with its first members being Tom Muchura, Zach 0100, Alan Crawford, Davis Wandera, Francis Miingi, Nipun Patel, .Mahmoud Ahmed, Satnam Singh Ranjodh and Manjit Singh Kalsi.
With the continued support of well wishers, hard work of members and dedication of players, the team continued to participate in the second division league and in 1993 there was sheer pandemonium in the Club house when a call came in from Nairobi that Mombasa had beaten the dreaded nondescripts Eleven in the finals, to become the new Eric Shirley Shield Champions.
The team's performance was well noted nationally and the next year, 1994, Mombasa was promoted to the first division Kenya Cup league, after more than thirty years. Their first season's performance was remarkable with Mombasa finishing second to non-descripts, despite sceptical feelings from various quarters that it was too early to enter the super league. Regardless of the continued problems of finances lack of equipment and membership.
Mombasa Sports Club Rugby Section is here to stay and is continuing to grow in size and experience- With the kind of support the Section continues to enjoy from its numerous well wishers, sponsors. supporters and the Club management. the future looks very bright for Mombasa RFC.